World War I: Air Service Papers
Fliers will come and go but their spirit--the Spirit of the Air--will go on, and on, and on.
-- The Fly Paper, Vol. 1, No. 2, July 22, 1918.
A major characteristic of the U.S. Air Service publications was their emphasizing the uniqueness of that new branch. Indeed, until the air force emerged as a separate arm in 1947, airmen only uneasily served in harness with their earthbound fellows.1 The Fly Paper, a four-page weekly published by the aerial gunnery school at St. Jean-de-Monts, on the northwest coast of France, was typical.2 Praising the high esprit de corps of the navy, it observed that the air service was too new to have developed its own, but it would, and predicted that eventually there would be one air service serving both the army and the navy.3 Flights and Landings, the paper of the 7th Aviation Instruction Center [A.I.C.] near Clermont-Ferrand, agreed, concluding that things must eventually change: "our uniform will ultimately be of a different pattern, and probably of a different color," and distinctive insignia would set the men of the new service apart.4
Plane News was similarly disposed, and quoted with approval a resolution of the British Parliament, which seemed to capture the right tone: "Far above the squalor and the mud, so high up in the firmament as to be invisible from earth, they fight the eternal issues of right and wrong." There, "every fight is a romance; every report is an epic. They are the knighthood of this War; . . . they have brought back the legendary days of chivalry, not merely by the daring of their exploits, but by the nobility of their spirit."5
Certainly, Americans took readily to the new arena, as Plane News proudly observed: "The American pilot . . . is a natural-born flyer. His love for the sport