Over 100 years have elapsed since brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright competed the first manned, controlled, powered flight on December 17, 1903. Since then, flying machines have progressed rapidly and triumphantly from short hops to just a few seconds' duration to supersonic speeds maintained over vast distances. From the very outset, aircraft served more than merely the peaceful purposes envisaged by the early pioneers: they were doomed to become weapons of unimaginable destructive power. Whether we like it or not, the ancient Greek adage "war is the mother of all things" was to prove no less true with relation to the history of aviation. The highly informative and beautifully illustrated volume presents the reader not only with an overview of a century of powered flight and the key technical developments but also with an explanation of fundamental aerodynamic principles. Setting events in their proper historical context, it examines each of the most important figures in turn and tells of the individuals whose ingenuity and courage gave military aviation its extraordinary momentum. This book is dedicated to all these aviation pioneers - pilots and designers alike.