If the Wright brothers' 1903 flights in Kitty Hawk marked the birth of aviation, World War I can be called its violent adolescence-a brief but bloody era that completely changed the way planes were designed, fabricated, and flown. The war forged an industry that would redefine transportation and warfare for future generations. In First to Fly, historian Charles Bracelen Flood tells the story of the men who were at the forefront of that revolution: the daredevil Americans of the Lafayette Escadrille.
As citizens of a neutral nation from 1914 to early 1917, Americans were prohibited from serving in a foreign army, but many brave young souls soon made their way into European battle zones as ambulance drivers, nurses, and more dangerously, as soldiers in the French Foreign Legion. It was partly from the ranks of the latter group that the Lafayette Escadrille was formed in 1916 as the first and only all-American squadron in the French Air Service. Flying rudimentary planes, against one-in-three odds of being killed, these fearless young men gathered reconnaissance and shot down enemy aircraft, participated in the Battle of Verdun, and faced off with the Red Baron.
Drawing on rarely seen primary sources, Flood chronicles the startling success of that intrepid band and gives a compelling look at the rise of aviation and a new era of warfare.
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by Charles Bracelen Flood
by Charles De Lint
by Michael Kallet
by Thomas Mckelvey Cleaver
by Robert Gandt
by Eric B. Schultz, Michael J. Tougias, Nathaniel Philbrick
by Jerome Preisler
by Jonathan Parshall, Anthony Tully
by Ronald H. Spector
by Susan Juby
"In the introduction to this audiobook about American pilots who flew for France before the U.S. entry into WWI, the author describes his work as a mosaic. It is a series of extended vignettes about the men who flew and the people who helped them. These elements turn out to be the book's biggest strength and biggest weakness. The sketches make it easy to listen to, but the lack of an overarching narrative beyond simple history makes the audio less than engaging. Tom Perkins offers an evenhanded reading, with no false emotion. But at times, the text makes his narration sound a bit dry. While not the narrator's fault, it makes for an unsatisfactory aural experience. R.C.G. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine"