The First Eagles: The Fearless American Aces Who Flew with the RAF in World War I

Overview

An incredible history of the American WWI pilots who refused to be grounded. There was a time when the United States didn't believe in aerial warfare. Wars, after all, were for men—notflying machines. When Europe went to war in the summer of 1914, the U.S. military boasted a measly collection of five aircraft, with no training programs or recruitment procedures in place. But that didn't mean the country lacked skilled pilots. In fact, it was just the opposite. In The First Eagles, award-winning historian Gavin ...

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The First Eagles: The American Pilots Who Flew With the British, Became Aces, and Won World War I

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Overview

An incredible history of the American WWI pilots who refused to be grounded. There was a time when the United States didn't believe in aerial warfare. Wars, after all, were for men—notflying machines. When Europe went to war in the summer of 1914, the U.S. military boasted a measly collection of five aircraft, with no training programs or recruitment procedures in place. But that didn't mean the country lacked skilled pilots. In fact, it was just the opposite. In The First Eagles, award-winning historian Gavin Mortimer engagingly profiles the restless, determined American aviators who grew tired of waiting for the their country to establish an aerial military force during World War I. It was these men who enlisted in Britain's desperate and battered Royal Flying Corps when, in 1917, it opened a recruitment office in New York. After an intensive and deadly year of training that gave recruits a frighteningly realistic taste of the combat they would face, 247 fresh American RFC pilots were shipped over to Europe, with hundreds more following in the next two months. Twenty-eight of them claimed five or more kills to become feted as "aces," their involvement lauded as pivotal to the Allied victory. In this book, Mortimer compiles their history through letters, diaries, memoirs, and archives from top museums in the United States and Britain—from John Donaldson, who left for France at age twenty and shot down seven Germans before being downed himself, to the Iaccaci brothers, who accounted for twenty-nine German aircraft between them. Complete with 150 period photographs, The First Eagles captures the bravery of these intrepid American pilots, who chose courage over idleness and saved the European skies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The First Eagles: The Fearless American Aces Who Flew with the RAF in World War I was a fascinating read. My previous knowledge of World War I aviation was close to non-existent. It is an area that is far more complex than I realized. For example, I did not know that there were such a thing as aerial observers. A crucial role for certain planes, an aerial observer acted as a spotter and manned the gun for the pilot. There were no harnesses or parachutes, so if a pilot took an unexpected turn or dip, the aerial observer could literally fall out of the aircraft. The First Eagles stays true to its purpose - telling the tale of those Americans who volunteered knowing the risks of early aerial warfare. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in World War I, aviation history or general United States history." - HistoryByZim.com

"In The First Eagles: The Fearless American Aces Who Flew with the RAF in World War I, author Gavin Mortimer describes this group of volunteers as ‘that small band of intrepid men.' He relates their actions and motivations in very personal terms using many firsthand accounts, which makes for exciting and compelling reading. I particularly liked his inclusion of the efforts of the aerial observers who are rarely included in accounts of the flying aces. While they did not control the flight of the airplanes, they protected their British and American comrades in arms with keen eyesight and deadly machine-gun fire. In a crowded field of scholarship about the World War I flyers of many nations, The First Eagles presents a fresh approach to the airmen who volunteered for causes they considered just and worthy of risking their lives for." - Doran Cart, senior curator, National World War I Museum

"The First Eagles: The Fearless American Aces Who Flew with the RAF in World War I brings his subjects to life by drawing from squadron diaries and from the American pilots' letters and journals." - AirSpaceMag.com

"The First Eagles profiles the restless, determined American aviators who grew tired of waiting for their country to establish an aerial military force to fight in WWI." - Wings of Gold

"Strangers in a strange land, these young men took to the skies in primitive machines to fight to the death for a cause they believed in. The First Eagles tells the story of the lucky and skilled aviators who became some of America's first fighter aces. Gavin Mortimer brings these flyers to life with detailed personal accounts meticulously gleaned from letters, memoirs, and news outlets from the era. Eagles relives the important, and long-forgotten, tale of some of the nation's first hero aviators." - Cory Graff, military aviation curator, Flying Heritage Collection

"Mortimer's book is a fine tribute to those Americans who for too long have remained largely in the shadows of better known WWI air aces such as Eddie Rickenbacker or the Red Baron. It is a stirring account of honor and sacrifice that does not downplay the horrors of the war in the air." - DeseretNews.com

"This magnificent book is by far the best thing done on World War aviation in decades. Highlighting the less well-known story of American aviators in British service, it reveals much about their action both in combat—and in society. The author's excellent research buttressed his obvious knowledge of the subject. More important, he took a far broader view of the men and the times than has ever been done before. I suspect that many people who believe they know the subject matter well will be surprised, pleased, and perhaps shocked! Studded with magnificent, aptly captioned photos, this tells the true story of brave young men from a privileged stratum of society in a way never done before. Highly recommended for the general public and for the ardent aviation buff!" - Walter J. Boyne, USAF (ret.), author/historian and former director, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760346396
  • Publisher: Zenith Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2014
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 344,869
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gavin Mortimer is a best-selling author and an award-winning historian whose versatile narrative nonfiction books have been published in the United States and Great Britain.

He is the author of Merrill's Marauders (Zenith Press, 2013), which profiles the American jungle fighters who fought a brutal campaign against the Japanese in Burma in 1944 and was seen on the CBS network during its coverage of Veterans Day 2013.

Mortimer's other recent title is The History of the Special Boat Squadron in World War 2, an Amazon bestseller that was featured prominently in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror, the latter praising it as a "remarkable" account of the wartime SBS.

Mortimer is also the author of The First Eagles, to be released in the summer of 2014, which is a compelling account of the American pilots who flew with the Royal Air Force in World War I.

www.gavinmortimer.com

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