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Lafayette Escadrille ceremony B 52A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber flies over the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France, April 20, 2016, during a ceremony honoring the 268 Americans who joined the French Air Force before the U.S. officially engaged in World War I. (Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts) 

The Lafayette Escadrille: Americans who flew with French in WWI honored

By Bob Alvis
via the Aerotech News web site 

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, I wanted to look back at America’s involvement in World War I and specifically, those daring young men in their flying machines.

Little did I know that my research would open some doors into the subject that would end up with me having a talk with the head of the American Battlefield Monuments Commission in Virginia.

Living here in the Antelope Valley with all its aviation history and firsts, it is easy to think that the warbirds of the world and especially the United States were home grown — but that is actually far from the truth. The development of the modern-day combat aircraft came into being in the skies over France and Germany in World War I, when two individuals took to the skies with only side arms and attempted to shoot each other till they ran out of ammo, and then just waved at each other and flew home. That was the beginning of what would grow into a worldwide quest to own the skies. The United States would soon have their own chapter flying in those same skies and would form a group of volunteers who would become legendary in the world of American aviation: the famous Lafayette Escadrille.

The Lafayette Escadrille was formed thanks to three individuals: Norman Prince of Boston, Mass., William Thaw of Pittsburgh, Penn., and Dr. Edmond Gros, an American expatriate living in France.

Seeking to aid the Allied cause, they lobbied officials in Paris to create an all-American squadron within the French Air Service. The Allies were in need of more combat forces, and were fully aware of the positive propaganda value that Americans flying under the French flag could afford in garnering United States support for the Allied cause.

French officials approved the concept on Aug. 21, 1915, and the beginning of American Combat aviation was born.

Read the entire article on the Aerotech News web site here:

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