The U.S. Air Force: The Nation's Youngest Service Has Entered the Supersonic age

TO the U.S. public, which pays for it, the $16 billion-a-year U.S. Air Force is almost a phantom military organization. The planes fly at altitudes where they are not visible, and they fly singly or in small groups rather than in the thundering formations of World War II. Most big Air Force bases are located in desert wastelands or on backwoods plains, where remoteness helps soundproof their shrieking engines from the civilian ear. Seldom do airmen wear their uniforms in bars or rub shoulders (and tempers) with civilians in off-duty hours. Today's airman...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!