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.