Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Discover all the ways you can make a difference.
Support Icon
The Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams are here to help.
Wings
Access to this video is a benefit to members with PBS Passport.
Blue Sky Metropolis

Wings

Season 1 Episode 1

In this episode, the documentary establishes Southern California as the undisputed aviation capital of the world and introduce the industry founders — Jack Northrop, Glenn Martin and Donald Douglas.  Nice weather attracted them but so did a climate friendly to dreamers, risk takers and entrepreneurs.  Amelia Earhart learned to fly here, becoming only the 16th woman in the world to earn a pilot’s license, succeeding in an industry dominated by men. African-American William Powell defied racial stereotypes, becoming an aviation hero despite a federally-funded study that deemed African-Americans unfit to fly.  He starts an all-Negro flight school in Los Angeles and many of his students became pilots of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.  This first installment of "Blue Sky Metropolis" traces the evolution of civilian and military aviation and examine the extraordinary mobilization during World War II, considered the greatest industrial achievement in history.  Two million workers built 300,000 aircraft — one plane rolled off the assembly line every twelve minutes 24/7 for the duration of the war.  In the episode, we see the Hollywood movie industry and aviation grow up together. "Wings" won the first Best Picture Academy Award in 1929.  Many stars, directors and producers owned their own airplanes and landing fields.  During the war years, movies that featured fighter pilots and romance never crashed at the box office.  

Read more
Support Provided By
Full Episodes
Back to the Future
Watch with PBS Passport
Episode
56:12
Blue Sky Metropolis

Back to the Future

Tech billionaires choose Southern California to launch their own space companies.
Season 1 Episode 4
A Space Odyssey
Watch with PBS Passport
Episode
56:12
Blue Sky Metropolis

A Space Odyssey

The race to the moon is matched in dollars by a secret military program to dominate space.
Season 1 Episode 3
The Big Chill
Watch with PBS Passport
Episode
56:41
Blue Sky Metropolis

The Big Chill

The Cold War funds the growth of L.A. while instilling fear of nuclear annihilation.
Season 1 Episode 2
Active loading indicator