This magazine was born 50 years ago this month amid tumultuous and momentous events. Europe’s Common Market — set up in 1957 by France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg — was proving its economic strength. Its progress would become the foundation for the European Community (and later the European Union) that would unite many European nations in economic and trade pursuits.
African nations were struggling to define their futures as European colonial powers loosened or lost their grip on the continent. Throughout Latin America, dictators and socialists were locked in persistent battles that stifled the continent’s growth. In the Middle East, countries became pawns in the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, as those superpowers took advantage of tribal factions vying to forge and control their own nations.
India was struggling to harness its economic strengths and stave off war with Pakistan and with China, which itself strove to corral its massive geography and population and set its economic course of the future. The Koreans stood toe to toe, and the U.S. worked to maintain peace there and in other regions of the world as it fought Communist insurgents in Vietnam.
In the U.S., Americans were working their way constantly toward the Moon, enjoying a rather robust economy and struggling to make sense of the turmoil of the civil rights movement and protests against the war in Vietnam. Anxious to find reason in what seemed social and political chaos, many Americans gave audience to new and unconventional national figures. Meanwhile, across the Pacific, the war in Vietnam was building on France’s 1950s combat in Algeria to cement the role of the helicopter in military operations.
Fifty years on, our world seems bent on relearning history’s lessons and, in some cases, intent on reversing them.
Led by unhappy Britons, factions within the European Union are questioning the reason for that economic bloc’s existence. They and like-minded leaders in the U.S. challenge principles of free trade that have served as the engine of global economic growth, particularly in aerospace.
Much of the Middle East is aflame again. African nations are united with Europeans in efforts to battle terrorism throughout that continent. Latin America is roiled by corruption. North Korea’s dictator is edging the Peninsula toward war. Russia seeks to reestablish its superpower standing. China appears committed to dominating the western Pacific at the U.S.’ expense.
In the comparably small sphere of vertical flight, we are confronted with unusually rapid change. Unmanned aircraft, particularly small ones, look to transform our business and operations. This is why we see 2017 as the Year of the Drone.
In highly uncertain times, it is clearly certain that we will have much to report throughout our Golden Anniversary years and the years ahead. R&WI