They look benign.

And nowadays they are - replicas of some of the first planes ever flown. They are beautiful machines: wings of canvas, and mahogany propellers.

But the originals – the aeroplanes they are replicas of – were deadly.


The air show provided a glimpse into military history [Al Jazeera]

A century ago, during World War I, most pilots who flew in them died. Many were brought down by other planes' machine guns, mounted behind their beautiful propellers.

At the Avalon Air Show, near Melbourne, what was more frightening still was what the first fighter planes have become - what 100 years of military aviation has brought.

The Air Show is the window dressing.

It is spectacular window dressing – incredibly loud and fast planes doing manoeuvres that don't seem quite real.

At its heart, Avalon is a defence (or, rather, military) trade show: the 'Australia International Aerospace and Defence Exposition'. The latest weaponry is being shown off, and is for sale.

One of the historic planes with its mahogany propeller

An unmanned stealth helicopter is on display in one area, torpedoes are being touted in another; in one of the main exhibition halls, you're encouraged to visit the stand of a company selling bomb-delivering drones ... with free chocolates and toffees available on the counter.

All this began with the beautiful planes of World War I. The ones with the mahogany propellers.

They were beautiful, but deadly.

Their legacy has been largely the latter.

An old fighter jet takes off at the Avalon air show [Al Jazeera]

Source: Al Jazeera