August 12, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“The weather is nicer now, tho cold at night. Wrote to Nora no. 8.
There are two Amex Air Planes with us. They fly lower than any planes I have seen since I have been in France.”
I forget sometimes how recently airplanes had been invented. The Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903, just 15 years before Robert watched these two flying over the trenches in France. Great information on the evolution of airplanes during these 15 years is available at wright-brothers.org.
I also found some pretty staggering facts at aviation-central.com:
The De Havilland DH-4 was was the only US built aircraft to see combat during World War I. When the US entered the war in April 1917, the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps only had 132 aircraft, and all were obsolete… Several European aircraft were considered, but the DH-4 was selected because of its comparatively simple construction and its apparent adaptability to mass production.
After completing trials in October 1917, production contracts were placed for the DH-4. It was dubbed the “Liberty Plane.”
The first American-built DH-4 reached France on May 11, 1918. However, they needed to be made combat ready and the mission was not flown until August 2.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.