How They Trained
Rare archival footage shows Army pilots learning to fly Jennies in 1917.
- By Phillip W. Stewart
- AirSpaceMag.com, May 05, 2008
National Air and Space Museum SI 94-9641
(Page 2 of 2)
The last noteworthy sequence features aerial views of a Jenny as it taxis and takes off. Two Jennies are seen in mock combat, and one of them does a loop. As the cadets watch from the ground, the Jenny completes three loops and a single flat spin. An instructor grades the aerial demonstration as the Jenny flies upside down. Next is an aerial view from a Jenny as it follows another Jenny low over some hangars and lands on the field. This is the only known WWI-era footage showing both aerial and ground perspectives of the Jenny doing aerobatics.
We’re lucky to have it, along with other holdings in the Archives collection, such as Warriors of the Air, Scenes of the French Army Air Service, and Activities of Balloon Companies in the AEF, 1918. Because of films like these, I can say to that enthusiast in England whose letter started me on my hunt years ago: “Have you ever seen a squadron of DH-4 ‘Liberty’ bombers taking off on a mission over the trenches? You can now, in glorious black and white!”
A retired U.S. Air Force officer, Phil Stewart has been a historical film consultant, TV producer/director, multimedia manager, and author for more than 30 years. His new book, War Wings: Films of the First Air War, describes in detail the 71 WWI aviation films in the National Archives.