By Wyatt Earp | April 14, 2010
April 14th is an important date in history. Abraham Lincoln was shot on this day in 1865. The Titanic struck an iceberg in 1912. The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988.
As usual, I’ve decided to go with the lesser-known story.
April 14, 1918 – U.S. Fliers Enter First Dogfight On Western Front
Six days after being assigned for the first time to the western front, two American pilots from the U.S. First Aero Squadron engage in America’s first aerial dogfight with enemy aircraft. In a battle fought almost directly over the Allied Squadron Aerodome at Toul, France, U.S. fliers Douglas Campbell and Alan Winslow succeeded in shooting down two German two-seaters. By the end of May, Campbell had shot down five enemy aircraft, making him the first American to qualify as a “flying ace” in World War I.
The First Aero Squadron, organized in 1914 after the outbreak of World War I, undertook its first combat mission on March 19, 1917, in support of the 7,000 U.S. troops that invaded Mexico to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Despite numerous mechanical and navigational problems, the American fliers flew hundreds of scouting missions for U.S. Brigadier General John J. Pershing and gained important experience that would later be used over the battlefields of Europe in World War I.
And now, American pilots are generally considered the best on Earth.