The WWI pilot was passionate about flying, wanting nothing more than to be in the air. But, life for these pilots could be terrifying, brutal, and short. Many lost their lives (or their nerve) before finishing flight school. Others lost their lives in air battles and crashes in just weeks or months after taking to the air. Air battles were harrowing, causing some to suffer psychological and related physiological problems. Adding to these hardships were the harsh conditions at high altitudes, with temperatures in an open cockpit dipping well below freezing.Between 1914 and 1918 there was a tremendous upsurge in innovation and production in aircraft technology, the main goal to make aeroplanes agile, adaptable in the air, and easy to fly for the pilots, most of whom had minimal training and experience.
All are welcome to view our current exhibit which includes selections of photographs, photo albums, first editions, personal accounts, diaries, and memorabilia, highlighting the first air war from American, British, and German perspectives and those of many courageous, skillful and daring young pilots.
The exhibit is free and open to the public during the department’s business hours.
So it was that the war began. Men rode upon the whirlwind that night and slew and fell like archangels. The sky rained heroes upon the astonished earth….
Excerpt from The World Set Free: A Story of Mankind by H.G. Wells.
Tune in next week for the final installment…