‘Just ten years after the Wright brothers successfully flew the world’s first powered airplane, the First World War erupted across Europe and with it came the first air war. Airplanes of wood, metal, and canvas took to the skies to act as observers and engage in combat with enemy planes. The best pilots became known as “aces” and were celebrated by both sides. Tales of chivalry abound throughout the war as both sides respected the daring of fighter pilots. If a flyer went down behind enemy lines, the opponent would drop messages and condolences for the brave pilot, so his comrades and family back home would be informed of the loss. The Allies had their aces and one of the most prolific was the Canadian William Avery Bishop.
Called Billy or Bish by his friends and “Hell’s Handmaiden” by the enemy, Bishop was officially credited with 72 kills. In his two years as a fighter pilot, Bishop became one of the most decorated aces of the war and later would be instrumental in setting up an air training program which would train the pilots who helped save the war during the Battle of Britain.’
This episode was written by Michael Gabbe-Gross.
Michael received his Masters Degree in History from the California State University, Sacramento. His thesis project analyzed the Phoenix Program, a CIA counterinsurgency operation during the Vietnam War.