Tag Archives: Flying Aces

2 MORE AMERICAN ACES FROM WORLD WAR ONE

With Veterans Day approaching here’s another look at some neglected World War One history.

arthur-r-brooks-betterARTHUR R.”RAY” BROOKS – Captain Ray Brooks graduated from MIT in 1917 and immediately volunteered to serve in the World War that the U.S. had just entered. Brooks got his first 3 kills with the 139th Squadron and 6 more after transferring to the 22nd Aero Squadron. FOUR of Captain Brooks’ kills came in one dogfight as he tackled a squadron of 8 Fokker planes single-handedly. Seriously.

In addition to those kills Ray Brooks had 4 more probables and went on to win the Distinguished Service Cross. He was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor but was not confirmed for it, unfortunately. Brooks flew a Smith IV Spad XIII.    Continue reading

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AMERICAN ACE J.M. SWAAB

Until Veteran’s Day – which is tomorrow – Balladeer’s Blog continues to salute neglected heroes from World War One.

Jacques Michael SwaabJ.M. SWAAB – Jacques Michael Swaab didn’t even take to the air with the 22nd Aero Squadron until August 27th of 1918 but before the war ended on November 11th he managed 10 confirmed kills and SEVEN more possible. At that rate Swaab could have challenged Eddie Rickenbacker’s total of 26 kills if he had started earlier in the war.  

On September 8th J.M. flew his Spad XIII in deadly combat, shooting down THREE German planes – including 2 Fokker D-VII’s. Before long he was an Ace and as an added bonus he shot down and killed Germany’s famed Ace Max Nather on October 23rd. Continue reading

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FLYBOYS (2006): WORLD WAR ONE ACES

Here is a fairly entertaining film fictionalizing the escapades of the American pilots in the Lafayette Escadrille during World War One. It’s based on facts but altered enough for a big screen drama. There’s even a Red Baron pastiche called the Black Falcon.

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AMERICAN ACE OF WORLD WAR ONE: FRANK LEAMAN BAYLIES

Frank Leaman BayliesFRANK LEAMAN BAYLIES – For the first eleven days of November Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at neglected figures of World War One, ending on Veterans Day. Frank Leaman Baylies tried to serve as a pilot in the U.S. Army but was rejected for supposedly poor vision, so in May 1917 he enlisted in the French flying corps instead.

Baylies flew with Escadrille 73 as the 13th man in the unit, flying a plane numbered 13. Frank philosophically shrugged off superstition, feeling lucky to be flying at all after being rejected by his home country’s air corps. In December of 1917 he was transferred to Escadrille 3, and really found his niche flying a Spad.

On February 19th, 1918 Baylies got his first verified kill, ultimately notching a total of 12 plus one more possible by May 31st. March 28th saw Frank shot down over No Man’s Land. After landing his crippled aircraft Baylies grabbed the altimeter and time-piece from the plane before scrambling toward the French trenches. The pilot was pursued by German soldiers but made it safely to the French lines.   Continue reading

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EDDIE RICKENBACKER: AMERICA’S GREATEST FLYING ACE OF WORLD WAR ONE

Eddie RickenbackerBalladeer’s Blog had proceeded from the assumption that most readers were familiar with flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker but comments and emails indicate otherwise. Here’s a look at him as we lead up to another November 11th, now called Veterans Day but formerly known as Armistice Day since November 11th, 1918 marked the end of World War One.

EDDIE RICKENBACKER – “Fast Eddie” Rickenbacker was first known as a race-car driver who competed in four Indianapolis 500’s before the U.S. entered World War One. Upon America’s entry into the conflict Rickenbacker enlisted in the Army and was in France with his unit by late June 1917.

Fast Eddie’s mechanical abilities – honed working with engines during his racing days – kept him grounded as a mechanic for several months. During that period Rickenbacker learned to fly in nearly every spare moment. Eventually he got his wings and took to the air with America’s legendary Hat in the Ring Squadron (the 94th Aero Squadron).    

Eddie made Ace – five confirmed kills – with less than a full month between his first kill and his fifth. Lieutenant – eventually Captain – Rickenbacker scored his sixth verified kill on May 30th, 1918 before getting an ear infection which kept him out of the air for a few months. Many more kills lay ahead of him.   Continue reading

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SEVEN AMERICAN ACES OF WORLD WAR ONE

eugene-bullard

Eugene Bullard

For another Veterans Day post I’ll do another shoutout to the Flying Aces of World War One. The movie Flyboys is a good fictional film about their mystique (but based on the real-life Lafayette Escadrille).

EUGENE BULLARD – This African-American boxer from Columbus, GA served in the French Foreign Legion as early as the Battle of Verdun in 1916 and had already won a Croix de Guerre before joining the legendary Lafayette Escadrille on a bet.(!) He qualified but the prejudiced Frenchman Dr Edmund Le Gros rejected him for service.

Bullard instead flew a Spad 7 with French Escadrille 93. Eugene still had an uphill fight against prejudice and the French supposedly failed to credit him with all of his kills, limiting him to just 2 in the official records but tradition credits Bullard with between 5 and 9. He had what may be the best nickname outside of the Red Baron and was called the Black Swallow of Death. On the side of his plane he painted the words “ALL blood runs red” in reference to the bigotry he had faced.

paul-iaccaciTHE IACCACI BROTHERS – In the 1960s young American men would head to Canada to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. During World War One a number of young American men headed to Canada to serve in British Military Units because the U.S. had not yet entered the conflict.

Two of those men were Paul T Iaccaci  and his younger brother August. The brothers served in the 20th British Squadron flying Bristol F.2 Fighters.

Both brothers were Ivy League men – Paul at Harvard, August at Princeton. Both Iaccaci’s became Aces on the exact same day – May 31st, 1918. Paul ended the war with 17 kills and his brother August … kept the uncanny coincidences going with 17 kills of his own. In late October of 1918 August was wounded in the eye and spent the few remaining days of the war hospitalized in England.   Continue reading

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TWO MORE AMERICAN ACES FROM WORLD WAR ONE

With Veterans Day approaching here’s another look at some neglected World War One history.

arthur-r-brooks-betterARTHUR R.”RAY” BROOKS – Captain Ray Brooks graduated from MIT in 1917 and immediately volunteered to serve in the World War that the U.S. had just entered. Brooks got his first 3 kills with the 139th Squadron and 6 more after transferring to the 22nd Aero Squadron. FOUR of Captain Brooks’ kills came in one dogfight as he tackled a squadron of 8 Fokker planes single-handedly. Seriously.

In addition to those kills Ray Brooks had 4 more probables and went on to win the Distinguished Service Cross. He was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor but was not confirmed for it, unfortunately. Brooks flew a Smith IV Spad XIII.    Continue reading

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