Letters From a WWI Jenny Pilot

In 1918, my grandfather’s wish was simple: “Give me a Lewis gun in the cockpit of a fast fighter plane, and I know that I’d be satisfied with life.”

This Jenny belongs to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York. (Philip Makanna)
Air & Space Magazine | Subscribe

(Continued from page 3)

But the illness that has shadowed him grows more aggressive, and on April 9, 1921, he dies in an army hospital in Denver. He is buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia.

His last months in uniform offered modest rewards. “This afternoon I rode Jim for two hours and led Kino for exercise,” he wrote from Fort Riley on November 16, 1920. “I was anxious to take the kick out of him. Kino behaved beautifully and I complimented him so much Jim got jealous.”

I have a photograph of my grandfather leading a stocky little cavalry pony out of a dusty corral, getting ready to saddle up and take his place at the head of his unit. His eyes are shaded by the wide brim of his campaign hat; his smile is confident and clear. Pinned to the horizon above the mountains behind him, a little biplane hangs motionless in midair, a Jenny trudging into its new life as barnstormer or mailplane. Lieutenant Crawford has a new life too, and no doubt he misses flying. But he is happy to be working with horses again.

About William Crawford Woods

Author of the novel The Killing Zone with pieces in Esquire and The Atlantic, William Crawford Woods is currently at work on a non-fiction book titled Three Soldiers: Fathers and Sons and American Wars.

Read more from this author

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus