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“Flying with Lindbergh” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by David on July 20, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

IN MAY 1927, ninety years ago, a little known U.S. Air Mail pilot became the first person to fly non-stop across the atlantic from Long Island, New York to Paris, France. Two months later, that aviator, Charles Lindbergh, embarked on a three month Good Will Tour of America that would see Lindbergh visit 82 cities in all 48 states and deliver 147 speeches and ride in countless parades. It’s estimated he was seen by more than 30 million American—one quarter of the nation’s population at the time.

The Tour’s purpose was the promotion of Aeronautics and to raise interest in commercial aviation. Lindbergh flew in the famed Spirit of St. Louis and was accompanied by a crew of three that flew along separately arriving a half an hour ahead of Colonel Lindbergh at all stops. Heading up the crew was Capt. Donald E. Keyhoe of the aeronautics branch, US Department of Commerce who is acting as Colonel Lindbergh’s aide and business manager of the tour; piloting Capt. Keyhoe’s plane was Philip R. Love, inspector, aeronautics branch, US Depatment of Commerce; the third member of the crew—arguably the most important—is Theordore Sorensen, expert mechanic of the Wright Aeronautical Corporation, Paterson, NJ, who’s job it is to keep the Wright Whirlwind, nine-cylinder motor of The Spirit of St Louis in shape for the 13,000 mile grind.


The tour’s participants (left to right): Donald E. Keyhoe, Philip Love, Charles Lindbergh,
with C. C. Maidment, and Milburn Kusterer.

Heralded everywhere they went, the Tour was a great success. Lindbergh followed it up with a Good Will Tour of sixteen Latin America countries between December 1927 and February 1928.

Captain Donald E. Keyhoe wrote a book about his experiences flying with Lindbergh on the Good Will Tour. It was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1928. As promotion for the book—simply titled “Flying with Lindbergh”—Keyhoe himself went on a bit of a promotional tour speaking at various schools across the country.

Below is a recounting of Captain Keyhoe’s talk to the packed crowd at the high school in Belvidere, Illinois.

 

PAL OF LINDY TALKS TO BIG SCHOOL CROWD

Belvidere Daily Republican, Belvidere, IL • Tuesday, November 27, 1928

LIEUTENANT DONALD KEYHOE TELLS OF ODD SENCE OF HUMOR OF THE “FLYING COLONEL” AND RELATES SWIFT PROGRESS OF AVIATION IN THIS COUNTRY—ADDRESS MUCH ENJOYED

By far the most enjoyable and instructive of the attractions yet offered during the progress of the high school lyceum program was the appearance and address given Monday afternoon by Lieut. Donald Keyhoe, who accompanied Col. Charles Lindbergh on his goodwill trip over the United States following his epochal solo flight to France.

Lieut. Keyhoe, who has been publicity director of the U.S. bureau of aviation of the department of commerce, appeared before the crowd that entirely filled the high school auditorium attired in a marine uniform.

He punctuated his highly informative and interesting talk with interesting experiences he has had in the flying game and while all were much enjoyed especially so were those with Col. Lindbergh. “Lindy” he described as a man without a nerve in his body and utterly without fear. He said he detests hero worship and will frequently quit hotels by riding down on a freight elevator at the rear rather than encounter crowds waiting for him in front.

The colonel, he said, has an odd sense of humor and told of how he and another flyer had shaved off one half of the speaker’s mustache, forcing him to remove the other half. Keyhoe also recounted an incident wherein Lindbergh had sewed up his clothing while he slept and also stitched tightly in his pocket his billfold. Lindbergh remarked to the hotel clerk while Keyhoe was endeavoring to get it out that it merely showed his Scotch training and that he sewed it in his pocket that way every night.

The desire to fly, Keyhoe said, started back in the stone age but the first real attempt was not made until 1783 when the first smoke balloon made a successful flight with animal passengers in the basket. “There are no dull moments in the flying of balloons,” he said pointing out that they are left to the whims of the elements.

There has been some criticism of the U.S. government, he said. over the building of dirigibles but pointed out that the two now being constructed for the navy overcome all objections.

The greatest advance in flying has been in airships. He traced the steady progress of aviation since the first Wright plane had been sent aloft and said it received its biggest boost during the late war. Rapid strides have been made since the coming of peace until today there are airplanes from coast to coast with airports and beacon lights to assist flyers.

“Your training days will be the happiest of your education,” he told the big crowd of students.

Commercial aviation got its big boost from Col. Lindbergh’s goodwill flight and since that time there has been a steady and rapid increase in air mall, air mindedness, etc.

The speaker said that flying is becoming more and more safe and that much unfavorable newspaper publicity concerning accidents has been a retarding factor. Government regulations, he pointed out. tend to discourage stunt flying.

He painted a picture of the future of aviation and said that it will be but a short time until practically everybody “will be tacking to the air.” Although
there are still some doubters concerning aviation he prescribed as a cure a ride with a trusty pilot.

Plenty of thrills may be had 
from flying he said without resorting to ddoing “stunts” in the air.

Lieut. Keyhoe was introduced by Supt. R.E. Garrett and given a rousing welcome by the students.


The aviation committee of the Chamber of Commerce was present and held a short conference with him following his address.

If you’d like to read of Keyhoe’s experiences flying with Lindbergh, here’s a copy of Keyhoe’s book sourced a few years ago from archive.org:

Ralph Oppenheim and The House of Genius

Link - Posted by David on March 30, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

House of Genius

Continuing today with another chapter from Garrett’s book, The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest.

The strain Garrett’s condition had put on their marriage and the increasing demands upon his time due to his writing led James to move out of their West 138th Street apartment in January of 1914 and into digs at 61 Washington Square South. In April 1914 he would publish Idle Wives—a novel about well to do women who have nothing to do and ignore their children while they themselves are ignored by their husbands. Lucy saw herself as one of these neglected women and filed for divorce which was granted in July of that year.

Lucy remarried the following year to a Dr. Meyer M. Stark who had been treating Garrett for some time while James eventually remarried one Gertrude (Smith) Drick—he called her The Golden Bird, she called herself “Woe”. When asked why she would reply, ” ‘Cause Woe is me.” She is only remembered now for the time she tried to declare Washington Square it’s own republic (Garrett mentions this in the chapter).

In 1921 James Oppenhiem moved to Glendale, California with Woe and Ralph. They were there for about two years returning in 1923 and resuming residence at 61 Washington Square South, a rooming house known as The House of Genius! The block had been dubbed genius row due to the creative geniuses that had lived there at one time or another, but number 61 was the house of genius.


The Row of Genius on Washington Square South. Number 61, The House of Genius, where Ralph lived and wrote his early pulp tales is the center house.

The house had been leased by a swiss woman named Madame Blanchard in 1886 and she in turn converted the single family dwelling into a rooming house and would only rent rooms to bohemian writers, musicians and artists. It is said that notable residents of the building included Willa Cather, John Dos Passos, Alan Seeger, Stephen Crane—and to this list Ralph Oppenheim!

According to Garrett, James and Gertrude had a room on the third floor which overlooked the park—from the window, you could see over the famous Washington Arch straight up Fifth Avenue. The walls of the third and forth floors of the building were said to be emblazoned with artistic murals and poetry etched by the former guests. Ralph occupied a smaller room where he wrote his blood and thunder stories!

The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest
A Polio Victim Asks, “Why?” and Turns His Life Around


THE PICTURE OF WOE by John French Sloan, 1918. Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches

This time Garrett writes about visiting and then moving in with his father, step-mother and Ralph down in the village in a house commonly referred to as the house of genius, of the wonderful visitors—artists, novelists, poets, composers, even a well-known cartoonist—that would come; and of his step-mother who was more of a wonderful companion than a parent. In short: The Magical World of Daddy O!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in reading Garrett’s whole book it can be found on used book sites and for as low as 90¢ used from other sellers on Amazon!

The Brothers Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 29, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY marks the one hundred and tenth birthday of Three Mosquitoes scribe Ralph Oppenheim!

Ralph was born on March 29th, 1907 to James and Lucy (Seckel) Oppenheim. At the time of Ralph’s birth, James was a budding poet who would go on to become an author, poet, screenwriter, director and Jungian lay-analyst. Best remembered today as the founder and editor of the short-lived The Seven Arts Journal—”It’s not a magazine for artists, but an expression of artists for the community.”

In 1911, James and Lucy had another son and named him James. When James was born he was a golden boy—good-natured, healthy and beautiful; full of laughter and fat chuckles. He was the picture of health, but as he began to walk he was funny on his feet . . . until one day his legs didn’t seem to want to work. The doctor was called in. It was infantile paralysis—Polio.

Although this pronouncement may have been a burden to his parents, James Jr. tried not to let it get in the way. Ralph’s brother also tried his hand at writing, but was never the success in the pulps his big brother was. There are some verses and such in some of the Love pulps, but no blood and thunder stuff. When he started submitting poetry and verse to publications he decided it was best if he change his name so editors wouldn’t think his father had diminished in capacity—and so changed his name to Garrett.

Garrett found work as a journalist for the New York Herald-Tribune where he became acquainted with Dr. Leo Wollman, head of the New York Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnotism. Upon the Herald-Tribune folding, Garrett became a hypnotist and counselor.

The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest
A Polio Victim Asks, “Why?” and Turns His Life Around

In 1993 he wrote a book using his own life as case studies to help counsel the reader. In each chapter he would tell about a part of his life and then provide an analysis to counsel people in a similar situation. Garrett mentions Ralph throughout the early portion of the book as they’re growing up. Here we have chapter 9 from his book—sans analysis—My Big Brother and Me!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in reading Garrett’s whole book it can be found on used book sites and for as low as 90¢ used from other sellers on Amazon!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Charles J. Biddle

Link - Posted by David on February 22, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have Major Charles J. Biddle’s most thrilling sky fight!

Major Biddle was one of that small number of American aviators who had actually had front line battle experience when his own country entered the war. Even before there were any indication* of his own country taking part, he sailed for France and enlisted in the French Army, where he was eventually transferred for aviation tralning. When the La Fayette Escadrille was formed, he wan invited to become a member. In that organization he won his commission as a Lieutenant in recognition of his ability and courage.

When General Pershing formed the American Air Service and put Colonel William Mitchell in command of the air squadrons on the front, the able Colonel promoted Biddle to major and save him command of the 13th Pursuit Squadron, which he formed, organized and took to the front to make a distinguished record.

Though not supposed to lead his men in battle, he always did so. Just before the armistice, he left the 13th Squadron to become commander of the 4th Pursuit Group. The account below is taken from one of his letters when he was in command of the 13th Squadron at Toul.

 

MY FOURTH VICTORY

by Major Charles J. Biddle • Sky Fighters, May 1934

A GERMAN plane had been coming over our airdrome every morning just about daybreak. I decided to set a trap for him one night.

I took off at 3:30 A.M. I had cruised around idly for almost an hour and a half before I saw my friend, Mr. Boche.

I circled around behind him. He was flying at about 4,500 meters and I had plenty of ceiling on him.

I let him go until he got almost over Toul. Then with the sun at my back, my plane intervening between his and the sun, I went at him in a long power dive. Getting closer I saw it was a two-place Rumpler, so I dived under his tail and came up beneath, letting go with a burst, then pulling off to one side to see what happened. The observer swung his guns around, aimed them at me. I dived again, got my guns on him from beneath, withheld my fire until I was at a 10 yard range and let go. My tracer tore through the bottom of the pit.

The pilot dived for some seconds, went down to 2,000 meters, then straightened out, headed for home. I headed him off, trying to get in a burst from in front, but the Boche fooled me, giving me a burst, then banking out of my range, and diving again. I renversed and got behind him, my guns leveled on his back. I sent in a burst that splintered through his upper wing. He ducked. We were down to a thousand meters now. He tried once more to shake me off, but didn’t succeed. I sent out another burst, purposely high. I didn’t want to kill him, now, I wanted to force him down, and capture his plane. Finally a green field alongside a river showed beneath and he dipped down.

I kept close on his tail, fearing a trick. But he drifted down nicely, landing light as a feather alongside the river. I circled around him and fired my guns some more to attract attention in a near-by village. French poilus came running out and surrounded the plane. I set down then in a field next to him, hit the only rough place in it, and nosed over in a crash. I ran over, however, and captured my prisoner. He seemed glad it was all over, smiling when I shook his hand. Blood soaked one of his sleeves. One of my bullets had nicked him in the shoulder. The observer was Fatally wounded by bullets through his chest. He died as we were laying him out on the ground. I tell you at such moments, when you see your opponent die before your eyes, war becomes far from a glorious thing. It is different in the air.

It was my fourth victory. We got much information from both plane and pilot.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major J.T. McCudden, R.F.C.

Link - Posted by David on February 8, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have Major J.T. McCudden’s most thrilling sky fight!

MAJOR James T. McCudden was one of the most modest and unassuming of the great flying aces. When the war began he was an engine mechanic with the then recently formed Royal Flying Corps. After flying training he became a Sergeant pilot, and began, piling up the string of victories which eventually placed him at the top of all the British aces. He was progressively promoted to Lieutenant, Captain and Major, and won every medal possible, including the Victoria Cross.

In the air he was absolutely fearless and could handle a plane as well as the best of his fellows. But his ability in using the machine-gun made him superior to all others. He was a crack gunner. He was killed in an accident when taking off to fly back to the front after one of his infrequent leaves. The account below is taken from his book, “Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps.”

 

ONE AGAINST FIVE

by Major J. T. McCudden, R.F.C. • Sky Fighters, January 1934

I WAS out stalking alone at a 19,000 foot level over Cambrai when I caught sight of five Hun scouts over Bourlon Wood. They were cruising several thousand feet below me. I sized up the situation for a moment, then went down swiftly in a screeching dive, aiming right through the middle of the formation.

After driving through the formation, I pulled up abruptly directly behind and beneath the leader, in his blind spot. I withheld my fire as long as possible, then let go with a short burst at very close range. His ship, an Albatross, went streaking down with plywood strips shredding and crackling from the fuselage. My tracers had almost ripped his fuselage in two. I didn’t have time to watch him crash for the four other scouts jumped me from behind.

I maneuvered quickly, however, and managed to get behind one of them, a Pfalz. One short burst took care of him. He went down in a spiral dive. The other three now began to show signs of alarm. They spread in all directions. I got my guns on an Albatross, pumped a long burst at him, but he spun and got away. I had been so intent firing at him, I didn’t notice the Albatross that slid in behind me pumping lead, until I heard the bullets crackling through the fuselage at my back.

I reversed more quickly than I ever had. Got my sights in line again, and was feeding him a lovely burst from Vickers and Lewis when both my guns stopped. On looking, I saw that the Lewis drum on the top gun was empty, the Vickers belt below was broken.

So there I was with no guns. But my two quick victories had given me confidence. I felt awfully brave, so went chasing after them with no guns. The two Albatross pilots weren’t very lively on either the stick or trigger, and I almost ran into the tail of the remaining Pfalz. I got so close that I could have popped the pilot in the eye with a rotten egg—if I had had any.

I chased those two fellows as far in as Cambrai, then growing cautious because of my failing petrol supply, I turned back and left them. I had got two of the formation and chased the other three away without any bullets. Of course, if the Huns had known that, it wouldn’t have been so easy, the three of them might have ganged on me.

When I got home and made my report my flying mates kidded me about not having a ready supply of rotten eggs handy in the pit.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Max Immelmann

Link - Posted by David on January 25, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have Lieutenant Max Immelmann’s most thrilling sky fight!

LIEUTENANT Max Franz Immelmann was the first of the great German Aces. Immelmann scored victory after victory over the Allied flyers until his total score mounted higher than that of any of the Allied Aces.

He was an excellent gunner and as a flyer had no peer during his time. He was the first to use the quick Climbing reverse turn, which was the fastest method of changing direction while in full flight. The maneuver first demonstrated by Immelmann in his sky battles over the Western front has since been named after him, the Immelmann turn. It was a very effective maneuver and enabled him to gain many victories. He and Oswald Boelke served in the same Squadron. When he was killed Boelke went on to surpass his records, only to be surpassed himself after he was killed, by Baron von Richthofen.

None of the American flyers, except those flying with the French, ever encountered Immelmann in the air. He was killed in 1918 before America entered the war. The account below was told to a newspaper correspondent.

 

TWO OUT OF THREE

by Lieutenant Max Immelmann • Sky Fighters, January 1934

AIR fighting is like any other kind of fighting. Victory goes usually to the strongest and best prepared. The French have tried to make it more romantic, like the fighting of the knights of old, man to man in bold, open fighting on mounted chargers. That is spectacular and picturesque. I do not believe it the best method. The object in war is to down as many of the enemy planes as is possible without losing any of your own. Thus you may obtain the mastery of the air, which is necessary in this modern war, if the ground troops are going to win success.

For that reason I have adopted tactics which seem on the surface prudent. I aim to destroy the enemy without letting them destroy me. My methods are best explained by giving an example. Three days ago, I was out cruising the lines with my patrol. We were in layer formation. One was far below, leading. Two others were further back of him and higher up, one on either side. I brought up the rear, directly behind the leader, and higher up than any of them.

While flying in that formation, the leader encountered a patrol of three Frenchmen. His instructions were to fly on until attacked, which he did. My patrol never even let on that they saw the approaching formation. They flew along parallel with the lines in steady flight without changing elevation. I throttled down my machine and dropped back, until the rest of my patrol was just mere specks. Then I shoved on full throttle and climbed for the sun.

The Frenchmen drove in for the attack on the three German planes below. My men kept their formation until the bullets began to get too close, then they returned the fire and adopted defensive tactics. At the same time, they retreated back over our lines, to draw the enemy over our territory. They were making a running fight of it, according to instructions, diverting the attackers’ intentions all to themselves; but knowing all the time that I would be diving down unawares from the disc of the sun behind to pounce upon the enemy in surprise.

And I did. I dived straight down from the well of the sun, my fingers poised over the gun trips. At one hundred yards I opened up on the first Frenchman. My tracers bored through his cockpit and he went spinning down. But not before I had dived underneath him to zoom up again with my guns pointed at his nearest comrade.

I opened up on him, saw my tracers eating into his belly. One plane was down now. I had the position on the second, and the first shots in. My comrades then, all banked and raced in for attack on the third Frenchman. He fought them bravely, I must admit, returning burst for burst. But he was doomed from the first with three against one.

My opponent slipped from my tracer stream, and nosed down towards his own lines. I zoomed up, half-rolled (Immelmanned—Ed.), changed direction and went streaking after him, still pouring tracer. Glancing back over my shoulder I saw the second enemy break apart beneath the guns of my mates. His plane fell to pieces and went fluttering down.

When I looked forward again, my opponent had dived and won away from me. I nosed down and went after him, but he went even faster for a forced landing just on the other side of his own lines where his ship upended in a shell crater and smashed one wing.

That was the end of the fight. Two French ships had been destroyed in our own territory. The other had been forced down to a crash landing just out of our reach. That was poor strategy on my part. I should have headed him off, making him land on our side. However, my patrol was still intact. Next time, I vowed I would not make such a slip. With perfect strategy and tactics properly executed, we would have accounted for all three enemy ships over our own territory.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Frank Baylies

Link - Posted by David on January 11, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have Lieutenant Frank Baylies’ most thrilling sky fight!

FRANK BAYLIES volunteered in the American Ambulance section, serving in that unit attached to the French armies from February 26th, 1916, to May 11th, 1918. In the early spring of ‘18 he transferred to the aviation. He became a member of the famous Stork squadron of the French Flying Corps.

He made an exceptional record there which he carried on to the Lafayettes.

After a short blasting meteoric career he disappeared in action on June 17th, 1918. He and Edwin C. Parsons, his American flying mate in the Storks, went out on a late afternoon patrol that day.

Soon after they took off at 5 p.m. Parsons lost sight of Baylies who was flying a much swifter machine. But he caught up with him later when it was almost dark. Baylies was far back in Germany in a dog fight with four Huns. Parsons saw his plane go down with smoke issuing from it.

Baylies never returned. Afterwards a German plane flew low over the French lines and dropped a weighted Streamer, carrying a simple message from the Germans: “Pilot Baylies killed in action. Burled with military honors.” Thus he died after marking up a record of over 20 Victories, 13 of which were officially observed. The account below is taken from one of his letters home.

 

STOPPING A PHOTO MISSION

by Lieutenant Frank Baylies • Sky Fighters, January 1934

I WAS out on solo patrol looking for Hun scouts who were supposed to clear the skies for a following photo mission. I had been zigzagging across the lines for some time when I got a glimpse of my prey, spewing down from a cloud formation.

I turned and started climbing. Number One passed me overhead. Number Two was vertical, standing on a wing-tip and heading me off. I pulled back on my stick, stood my Spad on its tail, and pressed my trigger trips, letting Number One Hun have it from both guns. He didn’t have much to say in reply—his ship went spinning down without a moment’s hesitation. His plane hit the ground with a terrific smash, flattened out there a crumpled mass of debris.

“Poor devil,” I thought. “That’s his last ride!” Still I had the consolation of knowing that he’d have got ten men if he could. I wheeled around to attack the second, but both my guns jammed on the first burst.

I went home to clear them, then I tried out again. I was nearly five miles in when I spied the four Hun two-seaters out after photos, flying very low in perfect formation, with rear guns elevated for perfect cross fire. I dove at the last ship, shooting as I passed, but my burst missed.

The gunners in the rear seats swung their guns down, opened up full blast. But I pulled up through the fire, swiftly, hung right under the Hun’s belly and let him have it. Tac-tac-tac! My tracer streams scorched through the pilot’s seat. He crumpled. I pulled back further on the stick, still firing. The slugs stitched up the fuselage to the gunner’s pit. Then the two-seater slid off on a wing, went sliding down. That Hun would fight no more!

By that time the others figured they had enough, I guess. I chased them clear back to their field, dodging archies all the way. Then calling it a day, I wheeled about and went racing for home, landing just in time to douse my face and hands with water, change my shirt and dash into the mess. Happy as hell, but famished with hunger. You know I have an appetite like a bear, I eat more, and more often, than any of the other boys in the squadron.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant David Putnam

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have Lieutenant David Putnam’s most thrilling sky fight when he scored five victories in one flight!

Lieutenant Putnam was one of the American flying aces who saw service under two flags. He began his career with the French before America entered the war. At first he served with the Ambulance Corps, but was later transferred to aviation, where he established a reputation as one of the most daring flyers on the front.

As late as July, 19I8, he was still flying with the French, but transferred to the American Forces in August. He was officially credited with 10 victories, but his actual record was over twice that number. Confirmations for his victories were hard to get, for he always flew alone and operated far within the German lines. But flyers who flow in the same squadron with him acknowledged his ability and superiority. The account, given below was secured from him when he was still a Sergeant with the French Flying Corps.

 

FIVE VICTORIES IN ONE FIGHT

by Lieutenant David Putnam • Sky Fighters, November 1933

My most thrilling air fight is hard to pick. All of them are thrilling in one way or another. Some maybe more than others. I hesitate to choose the most thrilling, so I shall give an account of my most successful flight.

That is the time I knocked down five Boches in a single fight. It was during the big push of the Germans on the Marne on June 5th, 1918. I was still flying with the French, and was cruising alone far behind the enemy lines in the region of Fere-en-Tardenois, when I glimpsed five, six, seven—yes, ten black specks slightly above the horizon line four or five kilometers farther in.

I circled slowly and watched the specks while they grew and took shape. As they approached closer to me I saw that they were German Albatrosses flying in layer formation. For an instant I debated with myself whether to run for home or stay and attack. The odds of ten to one were against me. I came to a snap decision, poured on all throttle, and raced right for their midst.

I figured that my sheer audacity would momentarily disrupt them. In that moment I might have a chance to get in some telling blows.

I kited right for the middle of the formation, aiming to get my plane between the ten enemy ships in such a position that they couldn’t shoot at me without danger of shooting down their own comrades.

My tactics were successful.

The Albatrosses spread and let me in their net; then they all turned as one and came in at me with guns blazing. It was what I wanted. I banked tightly, letting the bullets spray around me until the Albatrosses came in very close. The German guns suddenly stilled, however, when they saw their tracers streaming perilously close to their own comrades’ planes.

That was the moment I was awaiting. I opened up with both guns. One Albatross fell immediately. It was my seventh victory. I banked quickly and lined on another. It burst into flames.

The Germans began to scatter now, darting every way, up and down and to both sides, to get out of their own lines of fire. I followed two who wheeled away from me, got my sights on one, pressed the Bowdains. It fell off quickly. I lined the other instantaneously, still holding my triggers down. The plane burst into flames. Both went down together.

My slugs couldn’t seem to miss. I was just lucky, I guess. I felt a crackle behind my back. I turned my head quickly, saw a Boche hanging on my tail and peppering me with lead. His tracer was close, too close!

I dived, then reversed.

Again I was lucky. I came out right under his belly and gave him both guns. He fell off in a slow spin. It was my fifth victory in that single dog-fight. The Germans must have had enough. The five Albatrosses turned and ran away.

I let them go, certain that I couldn’t rely on sheer luck any longer; for sheer luck it most surely was. I looked at the clock on my dash as I kited for home. The whole flight had lasted only about eighteen or twenty minutes!

But when I got back, I found that only one of my victories had been observed. It was the only one I got credit for—officially. Yet, what did it matter? Actual results are what count. Whether it is a matter of record or not is unimportant.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Capitaine Georges Madon

Link - Posted by David on November 16, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This week we have Capitaine Georges Madon, another great French Ace, telling of his most thrilling sky fight!

Capitaine Georges Madon was one of the most famous of the French flying aces. Along with Guynemer, Navarro and Nungesser, he furnished the spectacular flying news that filled the newspapers in the early days of the World War. He was credited with over forty victories and only the great Guynemer topped him in the list of French aces during his time on the battle front.

Cool, courageous and audacious, he kited the battle skies, making short shrift of all the enemy flyers who were unfortunate enough to encounter his specially gunned Nieuport fighter. Yet, when asked to describe his most thrilling air battle, he hesitated some moments before giving an account of the air collision described below. Such a collision three miles above the earth was something that was feared by every front line pilot.

 

AN EIGHTEEN THOUSAND FOOT FALL

by Capitaine Georges Madon • Sky Fighters, November 1933

I was flying high over the front lines. The altimeter showed 6,000 meters to be exact. I looked down over one side of my lower left wing and saw a Boche. I dived down to attack him immediately. He didn’t see me until my tracer began to crackle through his fuselage. Then he maneuvered quickly to avoid my charge. But he must have been a new pilot for he did the wrong thing. He zoomed right up into the path of my Nieuport.

There was a thunderous crash, then all went still as death. My right lower wing was torn off. The enemy plane was completely pulverized. In some manner we fell apart as we started to drop. The minutes that followed gave me some thrills, I tell you. I looked at my sick plane. The propeller was broken. Struts were torn out. Guy wires fluttered back in the growing air stream. The wing that had torn off fluttered down beside me. All was in ruins, I saw that.

But it was the atrocious, horrid thought of the fall, which was bound to end soon with a smash on the ground, that set my nerves tingling and put my mind to work.

The wreck of my plane dropped nose down for several hundred meters. Then it went into a slow spin that lasted for about 4,000 meters.

I moved my control stick, convulsively, frantically, but uselessly. The control wires had sheared away. A sickening sensation gripped me. My mind went aflame with multiple thoughts. In turn, I seemed to review in my memory, scenes of my family, of my duty in the chasse squadrons, of my captivity in Germany, of my escape, and a thousand other things. One’s memory works fast at such moments. But what was co-existent with these scenes and towered above all else was my fear of falling among the Boches.

Suddenly, by some miracle of fate, the spinning ceased. I had done nothing with my controls. Nevertheless, my sick plane slowly but surely righted itself. And miracle of miracles! It headed right toward our own lines.

I ponder with my heart still in my chest. Perhaps I shall escape death? I’ll fracture my legs! I’ll break my back! I shall surely become an invalid—but I shall live!

I shall live! Words of hope, divine words that often were, alas, the last ones faintly uttered by so many of my comrades. A shadow crosses my vision. I look, barely see some poplar trees. I try to steer through them, hit them in order to break the impact of my fall. But the stick dangles loosely in my grip. The rudder bar is pressureless beneath my feet.
I shoot beyond the poplar trees. A darker shadow looms. It is the ground!

There is a terrific crackling. A sinister thud. Flying debris. A rude jolt and jar. It is the end!

But no! From the tangled heap I succeed in extricating myself. And I had only broken my finger!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Gabrielle d’Annunzio

Link - Posted by David on November 2, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it the Italian Ace, Captain Gabrielle d’Annunzio.

Captain Gabrielle d’Annunzio, famous Italian poet and dramatist and enthusiastic patriot, was one of the most colorful and forceful of Italian flyers in the early days of the World War. He enlisted early in the most spectacular branch of the army, the Italian Air Corps. Soon after completing his training he was assigned to a bombardment squadron which was charged with harassing the then fast-advancing Austro-German armies, which threatened to overwhelm the brave Italian defenders and take the capitol at Home. By exerting superhuman efforts the Italians prevented that.

The following is taken from reports of newspaper correspondents at the scene of battle.

 

MY FIRST NIGHT FLIGHT

by Captain Gabrielle d’Annunzio • Sky Fighters, October 1933

I was nervous on that night. It was to be my first night bombardment flight. I was detailed to blow up an ammunition dump. It was necessary that this dump be destroyed to halt the advance of the victorious Austro-German armies. I was not sure of myself, but my heart bled for my country. I must succeed, I vowed. It was not fear of death that made me nervous, but fear of not being able to accomplish my mission.

We took off shortly after midnight. The moon was shining brilliantly on the beautiful Italian hill country over which we were flying. Soon we were across the lines, and the Austrian anti-aircraft batteries opened up. I thought I was high enough to be out of range, but a dazzling red mushroom flare that burst above me made me realize I was mistaken.

I tried to climb, then, and nosed up. But my bomber was too heavily loaded and the controls wouldn’t answer. For an instant I was panicky, I swung right and left when the shell began to burst nearer and nearer to me.

After a few minutes of that, I saw that I could dodge the shrapnel. The feeling of panic left me. I grew confident and headed directly for my target, which was easily recognized in the shower of moonlight. I sent the bomber down low, through a hail of shrapnel and machine-gun bullets. But I didn’t worry about them. I was over the dump and knew I could destroy it the moment I dropped my bombs.

I went down lower and lower to make sure I wouldn’t miss. Finally I let go and zoomed up. There was a brilliant flare that filled the whole sky. Then a terrific concussion that shook my bomber like it was fragile cardboard. But I didn’t care. I was happy. I had accomplished my mission. Whether I returned or not was inconsequential.

But I did get back, and safely. I knew then that I could handle a night bomber. I was never nervous about night bombardment any more and I hadn’t failed my country.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Frank Luke

Link - Posted by David on October 19, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! The man considered America’s second greatest Ace, Frank Luke tells us about his most thrilling sky fight.

Frank Luke! How much the name means to those few who knew how he fought and died. His front line career was short, hectic and dynamic. He blazed across the war-torn skies of France like a flaming meteor. Very few people ever heard of Luke during his short but Sensational career on the Western Front. His fame and name came after he died. He is recognized now as the most courageous, the most audacious war bird that ever handled a control stick and pressed the Bowden triggers mounted on it. Only Eddie Rickenbacker topped him in the final list of American Aces after the War was ended. Rickenbacker was officially credited with 26 victories. Frank Luke had 21. But the comparison is hardly fair to Luke, for Rickenbacker was on the front for almost six months, while Luke’s front line career lasted only a little over two weeks. Even in that short space of time he had worked up to the top and was the American Ace of Aces when he died. There is no telling what, score he would have run up, if fortune had been more in his favor. The story below he told to Sergeant John Monroe, who was a favorite of his.

 

VENGEANCE FLIGHT

by Lieutenant Frank Luke • Sky Fighters, October 1933

Which was my most satisfactory fight? Well, all of them that ended with the other fellow going down to his death were pretty satisfactory. But there is one that stands out above all my victories so far.

That’s the fight in which I got the Hun who knocked down the Englishmen in the crippled De Haviland. I didn’t like the way that Hun waited for the Limey’s motor to go bad before pouncing on them. They didn’t have a chance. One burst was all the Hun needed. Being on the ground myself at the time, I didn’t think I had time to get in my ship and get up there in time to get in on the fight.

But when I saw the D.H.’s wing fall off and the ship go down in a spin, I felt a peculiar feeling inside me. My Spad was ready on the line. I hopped into it and took off. By the time I had gained altitude the Hun was streaking for home. But I was determined to get him. It was a long rear-end chase and getting dark fast.

No matter, I caught the bird about five kilometers inside his own lines and piqued down on his tail with blood in my eye. I held my fire until I was about a hundred meters behind his streaking Fokker, then I let go with both guns.

But the Hun had been watching me, I guess. He jerked up in a screaming zoom and my shots went low. I got mad, threw my Spad into an abrupt chandelle right on his tail. He Immelmanned away. I followed. We went round and round.

He didn’t shoot at me, but was damn successful in keeping away from my bursts. I was getting madder and madder every second, and threw a lot of slugs, uselessly. After a few moments of that going round and round, I got wise to myself. The Hun was making a monkey of me, just playing me out.

Understand, I was plenty far back in the enemy lines and it was getting dark fast. He knew he would get me if he just strung out the fight a little. Within a few more minutes there was bound to be a whole sky full of his mates come to his assistance. He knew that and was just marking time. I sensed that after a while.

It made me mad again, to think I had been such a fool. But I didn’t go off my nut. I kept my head, and circled round and round with him some more, watching from the corner of my eye for other Huns, and keeping my thumbs off the Bowden trips. I didn’t intend wasting any more slugs until I had a sure shot.

That chance came before I expected it. He showed his tail surfaces just momentarily. I pressed the trips. The tracer bored through the fuselage behind his back. That was all there was to it. The Fokker plunged over in an abrupt dive and went roaring into the earth with the motor full on.

I beat it for our advance landing field then with my motor wide open. And good thing they had thrown some gasoline in the sand barrels and lighted it. With the light from those flares I was able to sit down without cracking up.

I won’t get any credit for that victory, though. There weren’t any observers. But what the h—! I got him after he got the crippled Englishmen. That’s reward enough!

It was my most satisfactory fight.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Georges Guynemer

Link - Posted by David on October 5, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s Georges Guynemer, France’s national treasure!

Captain Guynemer, French flier, was the moat spectacular and colorful of all the flying Aces. Young, tall, slender, but in very poor physical health, he was a veritable demon in the air, He had absolutely no regard for his own personal safety. Time after time be attacked single-handed whole squadrons of enemy planes. On the ground he was shy, reserved, and spoke very few words to anyone. Whenever he came to Paris on his very infrequent leaves from the front to secure medical aid, the whole city was decorated in festive attire in his honor. He was the toast of the boulevards, the darling of the French populace. And the whole world mourned his passing when he died, shot down by a comparatively obscure German pilot, who got in a chance shot from exceedingly long range. The German pilot, Wisseman, never knew until afterward that it was the great Guynemer that he had shot down. When Guynemer passed mysteriously into the blue, he was officially credited with 57 enemy aircraft and universally recognized as the Ace of Aces of all the armies.

When asked by a newspaper correspondent to tell of his most thrilling air battle, he brought out a little black notebook from his tunic pocket and translated from it very matter-of-factly the account that follows below.

 

FOUR VICTORIES IN A SINGLE DAY

by Captain Georges Guynemer • Sky Fighters, October 1933

My most thrilling air battle! Let me think. Ah, I have it! It was the day I won four victories, a spring day in May, 1917. Two days before my closest rival, Lieutenant Nungesser, had downed three Boches. I was determined to beat his record.

I went out alone on solo patrol early in the morning. While cruising high behind the Boche lines, I see a lone enemy plane and make for it. A good start, I say to myself, I must not fail. I throw my Spad down in a power dive and approach very close. The enemy pilot does not see me. I press my gun trips and get in a burst. It is a good one. A wing shears from the other plane and it crashes in the woods near Corbeny. That was at 8:30 in the morning. I am elated. It was so easy. But I was foolish. I forgot to watch out of the corner of my eye.

A moment later I bank around lazily and run smack into the tracer of another Boche who has piqued down from the clouds to avenge the death of his comrade. The bullets crackle through my wings. I maneuver swiftly and escape the pilot’s hail of fire. But then the gunner in the rear seat has his guns on me. I remain calm, though, I slip off on one wing, go into a dive, then zoom up beneath. On my back I see that I have the other plane lined. I press the trips for a quick burst. It is enough. The two-seater goes down in flames toward Jusancourt.

Captain Auger comes along then, and we fly together towards another two-seater about a kilometer off, behind the enemy trenches. The enemy sees us and flees for home. I speed up and catch him, press my trips again. But sad thing! Nothing happens. My cartridge bandolier is empty. Then I realize my first flight must not have been so easy. I expended more cartridges than I thought. I turn and fly back to my own airdrome.

At 2 o’clock in the afternoon I go out again, hunting around by myself, I encounter soon a D.F.W. Ah, another chance, I say. I leap in with pulses throbbing, The other pilot shoots first, at long range. I dodge his bullets and press in closer. At close range I open up with both guns at a vital spot. I am rewarded for my patience. The D.F.W. bursts into flames. I watch it until it crashes, then go cruising around again.

I meet up with another two-seater between Guignicourt and Condesur-Snippes. If I make a record, I must get him, I think. So I am wary. I do not attack immediately. I pretend I do not see him and circle back behind the enemy lines, getting his machine between me and my own lines. Then I race back to attack from the rear. He wiggles out of my burst, and shoots back at me. We exchange bursts tit for tat. I vow I will press in with guns flaming until he falls. I do not fear he will get me first. I have confidence. My next bursts are effective. The pilot wilts in his seat. His plane goes spinning down.

Voila! I am happy.

It was my best day, four victories.

At 3:40, when my gas is low, I turn about and fly home.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Oswald Boelke

Link - Posted by David on September 21, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s one of Germany’s greatest air fighters—Captain Oswald Boelke!

All the heroes of the flying forces were not on the Allied side. The enemy also had its heroic figures.

Captain Boelke was among the greatest of the enemy air fighters. He reigned supreme until his death; then Baron von Richtofen came along to carry on where Boelke left off.

The German air fighting tactics varied somewhat from those of the Allies, tending more towards mass attack, emulating in that respect the German system of arms to attack in force with superior number, For that reason accounts of German air fights are not usually as spectacular or glamorous as accounts of Allied fights. Boelke’s account of his fight with a dead pilot, however, borders on the realms of fiction, and could hardly he believed if it did not come from such a practical-minded, stolid figure as was the German flying Captain.

 

THE PHANTOM PILOT

by Captain Oswald Boelke • Sky Fighters, November 1933

ON THE 27th of September (1916) I attacked with my patrol a flight of six English single-seaters. I knocked down one of them, and immediately picked on another. But as I whirled into the second attack, the first machine, whose pilot I thought I had killed, having seen my tracer stream right into his face, made for me. I tried to escape the charge, but nothing I did seemed to avail. The enemy plane glued right on my tail. I was very much surprised at his tenacity.

After all, I was certain that I had killed the English pilot minutes before, yet here he was, still flying around in a circle stubbornly. The fact was mysterious indeed. I flew over very close to the enemy machine to investigate, and saw that the pilot was prostrate over the gunwales of his cockpit. He certainly seemed dead.

Sure, then, that the plane could do me no harm, I left it and banked off, to tackle another Englishman whom my comrades had rounded up for me. I got him without difficulty, sending him down in a slow spin.

Then the mysterious plane with the dead pilot at the controls veered around and headed toward me.

And what a strange thing! It crept up to within fifty meters of my plane. Next thing I knew, a stream of tracer spewed from its nose. The bullets rattled through my fuselage. I nosed down to escape the slugs. The plane shot overhead, so I banked around and slid down after the spinning Englishman. When the Englishman crashed in a shell crater, the other plane seemed suddenly to straighten out and scoot for its own lines.

I followed and watched, saw it land easily in an open space behind its own lines. When it stopped rolling, soldiers from the trenches came out and pulled the pilot from the pit. They laid him out on the ground and covered him with a blanket, face and all. One of the soldiers crossed himself. I knew then my own conclusions were confirmed. The pilot was really dead. But the way that plane maneuvered with a dead hand on the control stick was positively uncanny.

It had me in a cold sweat. I finally figured out that the plane was rigged so perfectly that it really flew itself.

That it seemed to tail me was pure coincidence. As for the slugs that poured from its nose, they were merely the result of a last convulsive muscular movement of the dying pilot. But I tell you, one experience like that is enough! I would rather fight ten daring, darting Englishmen all at once, than do solitary battle with a ghost plane with dead hands at the controls.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Albert Ball

Link - Posted by David on May 18, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s British Captain Albert Ball’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

Captain Albert Ball was the first of the Royal Flying Corps pilots to make a distinguished record. Unlike the French, the British made no mention of their air pilot’s victories. One day Ball wrote home that he had just counted his 22nd victory. His mother proudly showed this letter to her friends. Ball was disbelieved.

It was beyond belief at that time that any single pilot could have shot down so many enemy planes. Ball was finally vindicated. From that time on the British publicized the exploits of flying aces. Ball shot down 43 enemy planes and one balloon, being at the time of his death the Ace of Aces of all the armies.

He received every decoration the British Army could give him, including the Victoria Cross. He was killed in a new British triplane by the younger von Richthofen the day after America entered the War.

The account below is taken from a letter to his family in Nottingham.

 

AN ENGLISH ACE’S BEST FIGHT

by Captain Albert Ball • Sky Fighters, December 1933

WHILE cruising high over my own lines I spotted a formation of eight enemy machines about 5 kilometers away. They were well within their own lines, so I circled around slowly, watching, waiting for them to come after me. But they did not.

I decided then to do the attacking myself. The Hun formation let me come on without any apparent effort to scatter. I had my thumbs on the trigger trips, but I was determined not to fire until I got within deadshot range. I knew I had to knock down my first target to shatter their morale. Down, down I went, expecting Hun fire all the time. But oddly none came. They usually fire at very long range. But in another hundred yards I saw why they withheld fire. All at once they opened up simultaneously with a steady stream of slugs.

I was diving so fast and so steep that I couldn’t swerve off from that hail of lead. I had to go through run the gauntlet. I did, diving even steeper, trusting my life to the hands of Fate. The slugs sieved through my ship. I held my breath, shoved on my cockpit, ducked my head, won through without getting nicked in a vital spot.

Before the gunners could swing their muzzles and center me, I pulled up in a climbing zoom, nosing right into the blind belly of the nearest Hun. At fifteen meters I pressed my triggers. The pilot crumpled over. The ship went spinning down. I went over on my back, straightened out, lined another. It burst into flames with my second salvo of fire.

The German formation was completely disorganized now. They turned and fled in all directions. I chased one, centered my fire from directly behind. My bursts were effective. A wing crumpled, collapsed. It went down. I banked, and took after another, caught up with him, gave him the same dose. The ship went spinning down. Four in one fight! It was a record for me.

I banked and chased the other three far into Germany. But had to give up before I caught them. My petrol was running short, and I have an unholy fear of being forced down in enemy territory.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Navarre

Link - Posted by David on May 4, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s French Lieutenant Navarre’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

The year before America entered the War, there was one name that was consistently emblazoned in the papers along with Marshal Joffre, Earl Kitchner, and the other high ranking generals. It was the name of Navarre, the “Sentinel of Verdun.” Navarre was the first Ace, the first man to destroy live enemy aircraft in plane to plane combat. At the first battle of Verdun he did yeoman duty. It was his reports brought in after solo patrols far in the rear of the German lines that enabled Marshal Joffre to so dispose his defense troops at Verdun that the attacking armies under the command of the German Crown Prince were never able to take the city.

Alone, of all the French fortifications, it stood impregnable through the entire War. To Navarre, as much as to anybody else, belongs the credit for this victory. It was only during Navarre’s last days on the front that his plane was equipped with a machine-gun.

Despite that fact, he rolled up a record of 12 enemy planes brought down and destroyed before he was wounded and permanently disabled. His account below is from the records of a French journalist.

 

AN UNUSUAL VICTORY

by Lieutenant Navarre • Sky Fighters, December 1933

THE AIR FIGHT which I believe the most remarkable is one which took place far beyond Verdun. A German photo plane had come down out of the clouds unexpectedly right over the fortress, had circled around undisturbed and taken pictures. I got the call at my airdrome just as I had landed from a flight.

Without taking time to fill with gasoline or load up with more ammunition, I hopped in my ship and took off again. When the enemy ship saw me coming, it banked off and headed for home. I poured on all juice and raced after it.

The distance between us narrowed very slowly. My heart was in my mouth. I was sad. I knew I must get that ship before it landed with its pictures. I goosed my throttle and spark, stuck the nose of my ship down until I was just skimming the ground. Boche rifles shot at me.

Stitches of little round holes appeared like magic in my wings. But I raced on with greater speed because I was close to the ground. The Boche photo ship was still high up, but beginning to circle. I prayed for time to wait! Pushed on my controls, did everything! Just managed to get beneath the Boche as he was coming down for a landing on his own drome. The Boches on the ground saw me. They hustled out other ships. I nosed up to meet the down coming Boche with my hand tense on the trigger of my Lewis gun. At fifty yards I gave a burst. It missed.

The Boche answered with two bursts. I banked and slipped away. The Boche nosed after me, sending out bullets all the while. Two other planes were taxiing across the ground. They would be up soon!

I had to do something swiftly, or not at all. I banked around, headed towards the photo plane, got it sighted and pressed my trigger again. But nothing happened! I had run through the last of my ammunition with the previous burst. I stuck my nose down. The Boche photo plane came after me, right on my tail. I stood up. in my seat, looked at my gun hopelessly. Looked back over my shoulder. The Boche plane was almost on me. The pilot was grinning. His propeller was almost gnawing at my tail surfaces. But there were no shots.

A sudden idea hit me. I reached up, wrenched the empty ammunition drum from my Lewis. Without waiting I hurled it back over my head. The propeller blast carried it straight back. I heard a chattering thud, then a hissing plop. I looked back over my shoulder. The drum had shattered the Boche’s prop. One blade had broken. The engine was wobbling in its frame. I swung out of my dive, banked up. The Boche hurtled past out of control, plunged into the earth, burst into flames.

The other Boche got up, raced me all the way to Verdun. But I beat them back. They didn’t come across after me. They turned back at the lines. That without question is my most remarkable flight.

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