"THE BEGINNING"

BY MIKE MACHAT

Autographed by Lt. Gen. Laurence "Bill" Craigie, America's first military jet pilot.

L/E of 850. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Size: 28 1/2" x 24 3/4"

Price: $125


Although not as sleek as the planes that would soon follow, the Bell XP-59 entered the history books as America's first jet aircraft. Although outclassed in performance by the top propeller driven fighters of the day, the XP-59A was an invaluable tool for the USAAF transition to jet power.

On October 2nd, 1942, a new era began as Col. Laurence C. "Bill" Craigie brought America's first jet fighter in for a landing at Rogers Dry Lake, Muroc, California. The first American military pilot to be given the privilege of flying such a machine, Craigie ushered in the beginning of America's jet age, the beginning of the Flight Test Center at Muroc, later Edwards AFB, the beginning of the X-series of purebred test aircraft, and the beginning of US Army Air Forces/USAF jet aircraft programs.

As Craigie recalled, of that first flight, "I didn't get very high or go very fast. My most vivid impression, after an extremely takeoff run, occurred the instant the aircraft left the ground - it was so quiet!"

Craigie was among the last of a breed, having graduated in the same Army Air Corps cadet class with Charles A. Lindbergh. He had trained in Jennies and his career took him to the upper echelons of the Air Force where he commanded NATO's Allied Air Forces, Southern Europe prior to retiring in 1955. The Beginning is the only limited edition print ever signed by Gen. Craigie and the only one depicting America's first military jet flight.