FIRST, OVER THE FRONT
“We were testing a new aerial camera.” Wrote Lt. Billy Schauffler, Jr. pilot, First Aero Squadron, US Air Service, AEF in France on April 2nd, 1918.
On landing 172 bullet holes were counted in the fabric of the Spad XI, French Observation plane. By chance this was the “unofficial” First Over The Front flight with battle damage but no “official” recognition. April 6th 1918 marks the official day American airpower débuted over the Western Front of World War One. The mostly ceremonial formation, routed over a “quiet” sector, was not fired upon. Tough, hazardous flying would soon come Lt. Billy Schauffler’s detailed diary entries were often written minutes afte returning from battle. It wasn’t all flying and fighting. He wrote about French hospitality, fine wine, knee-deep mud, youthful flyboy hijinks resembling a Wild West Show and elegant mealtime banquets – without
When Billy’s wartime letters, yellow with age, were found, Stan, a longtime family friend, was given permission to publish Lt. “Billy’s”, later Colonel William G. Schauffler Jr’s. fascinating human interest story of a grim time in history. Stan’s fellow aviator-filmmaker and professional writer, Associated Press, Bureau Chief, the late Hal McClure, encouraged Stan to complete the book.
First, Over the Front, paperback, available: authorhouse.com — amazon.com — barnesandnobel.com