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Technology Day to feature flyovers by World War II airplanes

Six World War II military planes are scheduled to fly past the MIT campus over the Charles River at noon on Friday, June 16, as part of Technology Day 1995.

An estimated 3,000 alumni and guests are expected to be on campus for a program that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. The theme of the Tech Day program will be "War, Technology, Peace, Change." Speakers will discuss how the war changed MIT and relate the Institute's contributions to the successful conclusion of the conflict.

The day's activities include a dedication to alumni who lost their lives in the defense of the country in all wars. Their names are inscribed on the walls of Lobby 10.

The planes scheduled to make the noon fly-over include a B-25 twin-engine bomber and a P-51 fighter, which became the outstanding high-altitude escort fighter of the war.

It was from the controls of a B-25 that James H. Doolittle, an MIT alumnus, led the April 18, 1942, bombing raid against Japan, the first US strike of the war against the homeland of the enemy. General Doolittle died in 1993. In all, 16 B-25s took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet, a daring feat because the planes were not designed to be flown from carriers. The daylight raid caused negligible damage, but it bolstered US morale, coming only four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

MIT's major response to the war effort was the creation of the Radiation Laboratory-the Rad Lab-which developed microwave radar. The lab became the largest of its kind in the world. The radar units it developed played leading roles in achieving victory in land, sea and air operations, yet its legacy was wider and deeper than that.

The Tech Day program will begin at 9am when Paul E. Gray, chairman of the MIT Corporation, welcomes the alumni and their guests to Kresge Auditorium and introduces the keynote speaker, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her subject is "The World War II Imperative for Democracy."

Professor Robert C. Seamans Jr. of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Class of 1942, former Secretary of the Air Force and former president of the National Academy of Engineering, will recall the days of war. His talk is titled, "World War II Comes to MIT."

Dr. Gray will then outline "MIT's Responses To the World War II Experience." Professor Lester C. Thurow will follow with a talk on "The Economic Impact on Society" of the global conflict. President Charles M. Vest will address "MIT and the Future."

A lunch will follow in the Johnson Athletics Center, where William J. Hecht, executive vice president of the MIT Association of Alumni and Alumnae, will offer words of welcome.

The afternoon panels will focus on: Economics of War and Peace, Professor Harvey Sapolsky, director, Defense and Arms Control Studies Program; War and Accelerated Social Change, Professor Daniel Kryder, Department of Political Science, and Ethics, Technology and Conflict, Professor Merritt Roe Smith, director of the Program in Science, Technology and Society.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 7, 1995.

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