Killing Machines vs. Killing People

During World War I, the average life expectancy of a pilot working on the front lines was three weeks.

Think about that for a minute.

Is that a job you would apply for?

I just finished reading Winged Warfare by Lt. Col. William Bishop, one of the “Aces” of World War I.  He tells his story of going into the war, serving first as a cavalry officer, then as an observer in an airplane, and finally, after a few quick lessons, as a fighter pilot.  The courage of such young men (most were young) is undeniable but I found it interesting that they did their best not to deal with the issue of killing people.  Of course they knew when a plane was shot down real people were going to die but most of the pilots thought of their actions as killing “machines” rather than killing “people.”

Another book I read was They Fought for the Sky, a history of air combat in World War I.

I read the books for some background information for a story I am working on but I recommend both books as historical reads and also for giving insights into the thoughts and actions of people engaged in deadly combat.

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