Last Full Measure: P-51 Mustang

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose devotion gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the run-up to the Normandy invasion, the Allies faced a daunting problem. They had to secure air superiority in order to insure the invasion’s success. This meant that they had to destroy the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. As long as Germany could continue to produce ample quantities of high quality fighter aircraft such as the Messerschmitt 109 and continue to train and bring experienced pilots on line, then the goal of removing German air power would go begging.

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Amelia Earhart II

Lead: Her name was famous around the world and not just for her epic flying accomplishments. She was a consummate believer that women had an equal place with men, and then over the Pacific in 1937 Amelia Earhart was lost.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Though she grew up in a more conventional Victorian era, Earhart was in spirit a child of the twentieth century. A strong promoter of women’s rights, from childhood she had participated in those arenas usually reserved for boys and then men. She believed that notions of retiring femininity were outdated and everything she did paved the way for women to follow: athletically, professionally, and personally. Her position on the faculty of Purdue University, advising on aeronautics and women’s career opportunities, allowed her to influence a new generation of women leaders.

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Amelia Earhart I

Lead: Among pioneer aviators, only Charles Lindbergh exceeded the fame and accomplishments of Amelia Earhart. She was a model and inspiration for millions, including millions of women.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in Victorian-era Kansas in 1897 of a prosperous family, Earhart early on demonstrated an independent spirit, an inclination toward adventure, and robust imagination. She refused to be trapped in the usual roles reserved for girls and then later women, playing a variety of sports and showing a remarkable curiosity about all things mechanical. Yet, Earhart read voraciously and had little difficulty succeeding in the affairs of the mind.

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Elisha Graves Otis’s Elevator (Invention)

Lead: An experimental safety device developed by Elisha Graves Otis, a Yonkers, New York machinist, gradually transformed the urban landscape. His creativity added a new dimension to city living. Things could now go up.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: From almost the dawn of civilization, human society came to value communal living. Families would draw together for protection and commerce, their clan gatherings became villages which became towns, which in turn became cities. Increasingly complex urban living came to symbolize the power and wealth of a people. In Babylon, Carthage, Rome, and other capitols, wealth and monuments to imperial greatness were designed to intimidate and seduce enemies and friends alike. These cities attracted large populations, but most lived in poverty and squalor - too many people, too little space. The obvious solution was to build vertically, but until the modern era, buildings were limited in height. Buildings constructed of wood and mortar could be only be pushed so high because of structural weakness. In addition, excessively tall buildings were impractical since people and goods could not efficiently be moved between floors. High-grade steel and reinforced concrete solved the structural problem, Elisha Graves Otis solved the other.

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Cyrus McCormick: Inventor and Salesman

Lead: Denied a renewal on his patent for a mechanical reaper in 1848, Cyrus McCormick transformed himself into a marketing genius and blew the competition away.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the early 1800s the harvesting of grain had not caught up with other agricultural improvements. You could grow grain in great abundance, particularly in the rich soils of the newly settled mid-west, but getting it out of the ground was a problem. Harvesting wheat was labor intensive. If you could find workers, slave or free, they were very expensive in proportion to the revenue generated by the crop. The first commercially practical reaper for the harvesting of wheat was invented in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1831 by Cyrus Hall McCormick, the studious and clever son of a blacksmith. It consisted of a vibrating cutting blade, a reel to bring the stalks within reach and a platform to receive the falling grain. This basic design has changed but little in the years since. McCormick took out a patent in 1834 but lost interest until hard times forced him in the late 1830s to consider exploiting his invention. He sold several but discovered that during his absence others had entered the market most especially Obed Hussey whose design was different and whose reaper was popular in Pennsylvania and New York.

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George Westinghouse II

Lead: Aware of repeated and often deadly railroad accidents, George Westinghouse developed the air brake.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: At first Westinghouse tried to harness the steam generated by the locomotive, but found that by the time steam reached the rear of the train it had begun to condensing thus losing its power to force the brakes. His solution came while reading a magazine article describing the construction of the huge railroad tunnel through Mont Cenis in the Italian Alps. Instead of generating steam deep in the mountain for drilling which would eat up precious oxygen, engineers compressed air on the outside and pumped it to the tunnel face. Westinghouse applied the same principle to stopping trains, some of which were dozens of cars in length.

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George Westinghouse I

Lead: On a dark February night in 1871, the chief engineer of the New York Central's crack Pacific Express, Doc Simmons, peered beyond a rounded bend south of Poughkeepsie, New York and saw disaster coming and could do absolutely nothing about it.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Everything was executed precisely. Simmons blew the emergency whistle. Trainmen between each of the passenger cars went to their stations. The icy handles began to turn. The brakes began to bite. Too little. Too late. A wrecked freight train lay tumbled across the small drawbridge just ahead. The Pacific Express, its useless brakes complaining loudly, drove through the oil-filled tank cars and pitched into Wappinger Creek. The tanks ignited. Thirty people died including Doc Simmons. Pity. Had the New York Central not been so cheap, Simmons would surely have been able to save lives that night. Already available was a device so effective that it was to revolutionize the railroad industry. In the public outcry following the Wappinger Creek disaster, New York Central and most other major lines began to equip their passenger stock with an invention by a little-known engineer. It was the air brake. His name was George Westinghouse.

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History’s Turning Points: Japan Discovers the Gun II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: Japan rediscovers the gun.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In 1543, visiting Portuguese explorers jumped from the deck of a Chinese commercial ship into Japanese shallow waters and with their muskets shot a duck. The unfavorable results on the duck were duly noted by Lord Tokitaka, who purchased from the Portuguese two guns and commissioned his swordsmiths to copy these new weapons. Within a century firearms were playing a widespread, destructive role in the dynastic and feudal warfare consuming the Japanese upper class. These weapons were very good, indeed the Japanese significantly improved on comparable European designs. One such innovation was waterproof rain protection for the ignition platform, but soon the Japanese abandoned firearms and mostly returned to hand-held weapons such as the sword and the bow and arrow.

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