Fictional Diary of a World War I Fighter Pilot.

Essay by Kamsden April 2003

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June 2nd 1916: My name is John Miller, I am twenty years old, and I am stationed at the No.3 Naval Squadron aerodrome in Fernes, France. I enlisted my services just two months ago, and now I find myself in a squadron led by the great British ace Raymond Collishaw! The airfield is large, housing many different kinds of aircraft, from the Sopwith Camel to the Nieuport.

I have only been in the Squadron for two weeks and I have already logged five missions and countless hours of flying. Up until today, I had no encounters with enemy aircraft, as most of my missions were reconnaissance and did not take me inside enemy lines. Today however, was a different story.

I awoke to the sound of mechanics scurrying around the airfield, hammering on parts of the plane and yelling orders to one another. I was not aware of any missions planned for the day, so I went to Mr.

Collishaws quarters to see if he knew what was going on. He said German observation balloons stationed along the front were giving away our troops positions. Our squadron had received emergency orders to flame the balloons, as the troops were planning to push for more ground in the coming days.

It was a bitter cold morning, with the mist hugging the ground like a cold blanket.

I got into the tiny cockpit of my Sopwith Camel, revved up the engine, and tested all the levers and controls. There was no room for error at 5000 feet. As I pulled back on the throttle, my plane zipped across the matted grass runway and became airborne. As the five of us led by Collishaw gained altitude, we came into clear view of the front lines. Constant shelling and machine gun fire...