DVD REVIEW:  Smithsonian Channel: Air & Space Collection 
RELEASE DATE: May 15, 2012 
DISC INFORMATION: 2 disc, color, Widescreen, 4 episodes 
RUNNING TIME:  258 minutes 
GENRE:  Documentary/ Space, History & Science
STARRING:  NASA personnel, British Airways personnel, and French Airways personnel

This 2 disc, 4 episode set covers the flight history of man across the globe and into space.  The archive footage of news reels, NASA reels, photographs, radio/TV coverage, and conceptual drawings are put together to reveal man’s quest for flight both successful and failed.  It also has interviews with various engineers, program directors, and personnel to give a more insightful look at the decisions and path that was taken to get a man on the moon and into an International Space Station.

Episode 1:  America’s Hangers
The history of man’s longing to fly among the clouds covers the attempts before the Wright Brothers, the Wright Brothers’ flight, and their subsequent planes used in the war.  It delves into the development of planes to carry passengers and cargo greater distances and their use in the wars.

Episode 2:  Concorde: Flying Super Sonic
The history of the first super sonic passenger plane from a collaboration between the British and French airlines.  This episode looks at the concepts that led to the plane’s design, the success and the failures that followed.  In very emotional interviews, the viewer is told of what happened on July 25, 2000 that lead to the bankruptcy and eventual grounding of this magnificent bird. 

Episode 3:  History in HD: America in Space
The rush to put an American into space before the Russians is the subject of this episode.  This section covers the first 10 years of space exploration made by the Americans.  Original stock film has been recovered with it’s crackling sound and evident film scratches with new footage.  This gives a very detailed look at where American society was back then and what they have done since then to remain a factor in Space travel.

Episode 4:  Space Shuttle:  Final Countdown
The retiring of the Space Shuttle program is the focus of this episode.  From the first design meetings and discussions to develop a Space Vehicle for multiple re-launching to the decisions that lead to the retiring of the shuttles.  This episode touches on the several deadly crashes and the near-misses that occurred.  It shows the take off and landing of the 135th mission of the Space Shuttle which was the end of the shuttle’s travel through the great unknown.  The section ends with the transportation of the Shuttles to their final resting destinations all across the Nation for their place in history.  

This is a very interesting and informative collection of documentaries.  The subject matter is exciting and the narration is given to keep one interested and not bogged down with trivial matters.  It gives an unbiased look at the travel of man through air and space.  Some of the footage will move the viewer to tears, while other footage will bring laughter and pride.
I really enjoyed this collection of episodes.  It is a great addition to any space explorer’s collection of entertainment.  Even though the Space Shuttles have all retired, the torch has been handed off to a new generation that continues to work with the International Space Station and knows no boundaries on the Globe to reach the very vastness of Space.  Wonderfully done set of films.

That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!

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