Luck on the Wing: Thirteen Stories of a Sky Spy by Elmer Haslett
Introduction by Gen. William Mitchell — Beginner’s luck — Hardboiled — My first scrap — Brereton’s famous flight — Troubles on the ground — The wild ride of a greenhorn — Eileen’s inspiration — Down and out and in — The court of inquiry — Becoming Kultured — Escaped almost — The privileges of prisoners — “Coming out”.
“Luck on the Wing” has two distinct sources of value: first it presents a clear, graphic picture of the life led by our fighting airmen during the three great actions in which American soldiers played so important a part—Château-Thierry, St. Mihiel, and the Argonne—and best of all the picture is a truthful one: and, second, it, all the more forcibly because often quite unconsciously, brings out clearly the lack of understanding of the functions of Air Service, a lack which in the final analysis was responsible for the greater part of whatever of dissatisfaction and disappointment with this branch of the Military Service there existed in the American Expeditionary Forces in France.
Since the Armistice there have been published a great number of books on the War, the majority of which have been the work of actual participants—of officers and enlisted men. But so far as the Air Service of the United States is concerned Major Haslett has, in my opinion, in the relation in simple narrative form of some of the adventures he himself met with Overseas provided not only the most interesting story but one of the very few which the future historian will find of considerable value when he sets himself to the task of compiling Air Service History.
“Luck on the Wing” is the story of an American observer. The claims to fame of the fighting pilot were early recognized in the World War. The Ace soon became a public favorite. The War Correspondents were quick indeed to realize the news potentialities inherent to the “Knight of the Air” and their dispatches made the world familiar with his extraordinary and ordinary adventures. The peoples of the World followed with the zest that the American baseball fanatic follows the baseball victories, the scores of the World’s great Aces. But to the observer fame came in rather homeopathic doses, if it came at all. And most observers are willing to take oath it came not at all.