Although the Wright Brothers fancy that their invention may bring an end to war, mankind has other ideas. The concept of “air power” is born in conflict, though it will endure a childhood of neglect and disinterest. When America enters World War I, She is woefully unprepared for the rigors of an air war. The U.S. ranks 17th among all other nations, in terms of military strength. She has fewer than 250 airplanes and nothing that qualifies as combat-ready.
Still, eager pilots step forward and throw themselves into the fray. Frustrated by U.S. attempts to remain neutral, the Americans of the Lafayette Escadrille defend the skies above France…and face a 1 in 3 chance of dying in battle. When America finally enters the war, heroes are forged in the fires of combat. Names like Rickenbacker, Lufbery and Mitchell will echo through the ages whenever men tell tales of courage and skill.
Where once the cavalryman symbolized the romance and valor of military conquest, the pilot now dons this mantle of mystique. With a glint in his eye and a spring in his step, he is an odd blend of youthful vitality and battle-hardened warrior. It is a persona that will endure across varying 20th Century conflicts and will eventually attach itself to the star-bound sprinters in “the space race.”