Aviation Training in the United States, 1917-18

Shot at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas in 1917 and 1918, Aviation Training in the United States is a rare documentary record of World War I pilot training. In this slightly edited version of the silent film, cadets are shown working on airplane rigging inside a hangar; looking down on “targets” from a balcony-like Artillery Spotting Classroom; field-stripping a Lewis machine gun; making small plaster practice bombs using wooden molds; receiving instruction on bomb release operations; using Morse code to identify enemy planes; practicing marksmanship on the firing range; and studying the bomb release mechanism in a mockup of an airplane fuselage. The action then shifts to flying as the cadets are dismissed from their classroom, sign out their flying gear, and climb into Jenny trainers. As the student pilots fly, other cadets sit watching from bleachers while an officer grades the aerial maneuvers. After landing, cadets inspect the airplanes and move the control surfaces. This is followed by a closeup of a cadet during takeoff and climb from the airfield, and scenes of soldiers fastening aerial bombs under the fuselage of a Jenny. After a practice bombing run and shots of a cadet practicing with a machine gun mounted on the airplane, there are scenes of Jennies flying in mock dogfights, performing aerobatics and landing. The film ends with the cadets back on the ground, standing and marching in review. Video: National Archives and Records Administration (9:55)

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