Thursday, August 3, 2017

Men of Nerve -- August 3, 2017

Topeka State Journal, 08-August-1917
Some sources say that 100 years ago today,on 03-August-1917, elements of the United States First Aero Squadron arrived in Europe, but I can't find any references in contemporary newspapers.  Here is an article from the 08-August-1917 Topeka State Journal about the country's plans for aviation.  Raoul Lufbery (only one r) was born in France to an American father and a French mother.  He served in the Foreign Legion and then as a pilot in the Aéronautique Militaire.  When the Lafayette Escadrille was formed to allow American volunteers to fight, Lufbery, an American citizen, was transferred.  When the US entered the war, he joined the Army Air Service.  He was killed in combat on 19-May-1918. Howard E Coffin, an automobile engineer and manufacturer, served as chairman of the Air Board. 

Observation Aviators Must Have Keen Eye for Detail.
Mastery of Machine Guns, Telegraphy, Camera, Requisites.
Greatest Reservoir in World, Says Aero Director.
Allies Sacrificed Best Airman Material in Trenches.


Paris, Aug. l8. -- Work to be done by American aviators which may mean success or failure of artillery and infantry was described by Lieut. Raoul Lufberry, premier fighter of the Lafayette escadrille. today, as he outlined to the United Press further qualifications the "cream of American youth" must have to carry the United States to success in the air.

"Mcn working in machines carrying two or more passengers must have many of the qualities of the chasers (described in a previous interview)," said Lufberry. "They can weigh 200 pounds, but success depends less on perfect physique for this type of air man, than on perfect nerves.

"Tho constantly under fire the air man must develop a painstaking eye for detail. He must have persistence and an enormous sense of self-discipline.

Observations Must Be Accurate.

Observations made from his machine may mean success or failure in his artillery or infantry.

"His nerves must hold him steadily to his task regardless of the guns that will be trying to bring him down.

"The observers carried in such machines are generally young artillery officers who have mastered the handling of machine guns, wireless telegraphy, and even photography.

"The pilots of these slower, heavier machines can be men lacking in the qualities of eye and temperament necessary to the faster game.

"The third general type of aviator is the bombardier. He must be capable of rapid, accurate handling of machine guns and small cannon, and be proficient in the extremely complicated art of aerial warfare.

On a Battle Plane.

"In this there are three principal factors. He must be able to gauge his own and his enemy's speed, and the velocity of the wind.

"It is frequently necessary to aim 100 feet in front of an enemy machine to make a hit.

"All on board a battle plane depends upon the bombardier's eye, his coolness and his ability to shoot. If he becomes rattled all is lost. For example a German gunner recently lost his nerve and hid in the body of the machine. The pilot became rattled, gave up and landed inside the French lines."

U. S. Can Meet Demands.

Washington. Aug. 8. -- America is ready to meet the precise aviation demands outlined in statements by Lieut. Raoul Lufberry to the United Press in France. Howard Coffin, chairman of the government aircraft production board, today, after reading Lufberry's comment, declared this country will furnish both the men and machines desired.

"One great point of advantage which must be borne in mind is that America is an almost inexhaustible reservoir for this particular type of men needed in the. air service," Coffin said today. "During the first year and a half of the war all allied countries and to a great extent even enemy countries were stripped of this type of men because of losses sustained in land fighting. These were men who were first to enlist at the outbreak of the war. The value of the air service had not then been demonstrated or appreciated and a vast quantity of human material which should have been reserved for air service, was sacrificed in trenches. So. we must remember, in considering the strategic advantage of the United States that this country is today the greatest reservoir of the world, not only for the material from which to manufacture aeroplanes but of the men of the particular quality to man them "

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