NOVA

First Air War

Passport Season 41 Episode 18 | 52m 22s

When World War I began in 1914, the air forces of the opposing nations consisted of handfuls of rickety biplanes from which pilots occasionally took pot shots at one another with rifles. By the war’s end, the essential blueprint of the modern fighter had emerged: it was now an efficient killing machine that limited the average life expectancy of a front line pilot to just a few weeks.

Aired: 10/29/14

Expires: 12/30/19

Rating: TV-PG

Video has closed captioning.