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‘Masters of the Air’ deemed gripping, authentic by audiences everywhere

After watching the first episode of Apple's new, original series, "Masters of the Air," audiences everywhere agree: It's incredible.
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"Masters of the Air" Apple TV+

After watching the first episode of the new Apple original series, Masters of the Air, audiences everywhere agree: It’s incredible. Last week, service members, veterans and their families had a once-in-a-lifetime experience for an advance screening of the series, in, of all cities, Dayton, Ohio, courtesy of USAA. With a population of only about 137,000 people, one wouldn’t expect too much out of Dayton, but USAA certainly knew what they were doing. Not only is Dayton home to many airmen stationed at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, it’s also the location of the impressive National Museum of the United States Air Force. 

Viewers from the Masters of the Air exclusive screening take in one of the displays at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Photo: Matthew VanEck for We Are The Mighty.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the largest and oldest military aviation museum in the world. The museum boasts more than 360 aircraft and aerospace vehicles on display, many of which are one-of-a-kind. There are thousands of historical aviation artifacts to peruse and I’m pretty confident you could spend an entire day there and be left wanting more. The museum also features a six-story 3D digital Air Force Museum Theatre, which is where Masters of the Air came to life for our viewers.

After watching the screening, I caught up with some of the audience members to get their reactions. They were unanimously impressed.

USAA’s Exclusive Screening Event of Masters of the Air in Dayton, Ohio. Photo: Matthew VanEck for We Are The Mighty.

Jeff Kelley, who currently works as the Aviation Lab Manager for Southern Utah University, served 21 years and seven months in the USAF as an F-16 avionics mechanic. If this is someone you can impress with an Air Force show, we should all be impressed. Kelley shared, “It was definitely gripping, and not forced. That’s the key. It’s not that you’re trying to force someone to feel or believe some way. It’s raw emotion that you develop on your own. It’s excellent writing. Without a doubt, I’ll watch the rest of the series. From the onslaught, it feels like it will rival Band of Brothers. It’s a reflection on society that allows us to go back to what is needed of young men and women, and what may be needed of our future generations. We need to know what we have fought for and why.” Kelley was fascinated by the nuance. “Even how they palmed the throttle and moved it; it was spot on. They didn’t overlook the little details. That means something.”

Michael Shutlock, serving on active duty in the USAF and currently stationed at Wright-Patterson, agreed. “It was outstanding. Masters of the Air was a masterpiece. It was captivating.” Shutlock, along with over 300 other viewers was thrilled to get an exclusive look at the show. But for USAA, activations like these are just part of their ethos. Mike Warner, Chief Master Sergeant USAF (Ret.) explained. “I’m just so proud of USAA for doing this, which is what we do all the time. We support the military, we appreciate what they do, and they’re our membership. Transition to the show – wow, authenticity it was spot on.”

Masters of the Air follows the true story of an American bomber squadron in World War II that brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep. Described as a follow-up to Band of Brothers and The Pacific, their story will portray “individual excellence, but more importantly, the willingness to look out for their fellow service members,” a message at the heart of USAA’s mission and purpose. Masters of the Air’s official synopsis is, “Based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, and scripted by John Orloff (Band of Brothers), Masters of the Air follows the men of the 100th Bomb Group as they conduct perilous bombing raids over Nazi Germany and grapple with the frigid conditions, lack of oxygen, and sheer terror of combat conducted at 25,000 feet in the air. The psychological and emotional price paid by these young men as they helped destroy the horror of Hitler’s Third Reich is at the heart of Masters of the Air. Some were shot down and captured; some were wounded or killed. And some were lucky enough to make it home. Regardless of individual fate, a toll was exacted on them all.” Check out the behind-the-scenes footage here:

The first two episodes of Masters of the Air are now streaming on Apple TV+.  The mini-series produced by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will span nine, one-hour, gripping episodes total, released every Friday between January 26 and March 15.