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“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 2: Bert Hall” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 25, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have the second installment featuring America’s Flying Soldier of Fortune—Bert Hall!

Weston Birch “Bert” Hall was one of the seven original members of the Lafayette Escadrille. And was probably America’s most colorful Soldier of Fortune. Born in 1885, he began his storied carrer in the early 1900’s in the Balkan war. Later, he is reported to have dropped rocks on the sultan of Turkey’s enemies while flying for the Turks. He was a four-flusher, a liar, a deserter and a damn good poker player who was good at reading his opponents.

Hall wrote two books about his exploits in the Lafayette Escadrille, En L’air (1918) and One Man’s War (1929). The former was the basis of the 1918 film A Romance of the Air, in which he starred as himself.

He assisted the Chinese in the 1920’s when he headed the Chinese air force. However he was sentenced to 30 months in jail when a money for arms deal fell through and was accused of receiving money under false pretenses.

When he was released in 1936, he ended up moving around alot—to Seattle for a while and Hollywood where he worked for 20th Century Fox Studios. By 1940 he found himself in Dayton, Ohio—finally settling in Castalia, Ohio and starting the Sturdy Toy Factory.

He died of a massive heart attack while driving down the highway in 1948.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)