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Today in History

When the United States entered the war on 6 April 1917, it had a fledgling air service comprised of about 300 aircraft. A month later, young men, all volunteers, flocked to the barren plain at Kelly Field, in Bexar County, Texas. Every one of these recruits had hopes of becoming pilots but none of them would be posted to flight school.

1 1st Pursuit Group
2 2nd Pursuit Group
3 3rd Pursuit Group
4 4th Pursuit Group
5 5th Pursuit Group

"Not half of the Air Service ever reached France or the [American Expeditionary Force]. There were in the Air Service in the A.E.F. 7,726 officers and 70,769 enlisted men. Of these 6,861 officers and 51,229 enlisted men were in France, 765 officers and 19,317 enlisted men in England, and the remainder were training and fighting in Italy." 1

"The A.E.F. had the largest flying school in the world at Issoudun, which grew from a mudhole to the most gigantic aviation training undertaking of the war, with 11 separate aviation fields in active operation, covering 50 square miles in the heart of France. Its first class began October 24, 1917. One year from that date it housed 1,030 officers and 5,125 soldiers; sheltered 1,022 planes, 560 of which were put to daily use; and number 150 barracks building and 91 hangars. During that year it sent out 1,751 fully trained men." 1

USAS Personnel in 1914, 1917, and 1918. 2
  4 Aug 1914 6 Apr 1917 11 Nov 1918
Air Service officers 28* 65* 20,568
Enlisted and civilian personnel 166* 1,330* 174,456
Flying fields 1 2 48
* In the Signal Corps

Attacking Hostile Aircraft 3
   The following “ten commandments” in aerial fighting are considered of vital importance. They may appear cowardly, but they are compiled from the experiences of the pilots that I have come into contact with on active service.
   (1) Do not lose formation.
   (2) Do not press an attack on a two-seater that fires at you before you are in perfect position. Break away and attack it or another hostile aircraft later with a chance of surprise.
   (3) Do not stay to manceuver with a two-seater.
   (4) Do not dive to break off a combat unless you are confident that your machine is a better “diver” than that of the enemy.
   (5) Do not unnecessarily attack a superior formation; you will get a better chance if you wait five minutes.
   (6) Do not attack without looking for the machine above you; he will almost certainly come on your tail unawares while you are attacking if you are not watching him. Look behind continually while on a dive.
   (7) Do not come down too low on the other side or you will have all the enemy on to you.
   (8) Do not go to sleep in the air for one instant of your patrol. Watch your tail.
   (9) Do not deliver a surprise attack at over 90 knots unless you wish to scare hostile aircraft off friendly machines' tails. Most machines are not easily enough controlled at that speed, and the firing period passes too rapidly.
   (10) Do not deliver a surprise attack at over 100 yards' range at the very most.
   These rules only apply to an offensive patrol. If the hostile machines must be moved, they must be moved at all costs.
1 The Stars and Stripes, Friday, March 28, 1919
2 G. W. Mixter and H. H. Emmons, United States Army Aircraft Production Facts (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1919)
3 Albert H. Munday, The Eyes of the Army and Navy: Practical Aviation (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1917) 187.
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