War Bird Ace: The Great War Exploits of Capt. Field E. Kindley. By Jack Stokes Ballard. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2007. Photographs. Notes. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xvi, 208. $49.95 ISBN: 1-58544-574-1
Do you know the names von Richtofen, Fonck, and Rickenbacker? History fans may know the names of the leading German, French and American aces of World War I, how many kills they had, or which was the leading ace. But how many other aces flew in the war? How many great stories remain untold about other men brave enough to fly and fight in those early days of aviation?
Those pilots had to be incredibly brave in the early years of aviation. Pilots had very short life spans because aviation was so dangerous. Fonck's first aerial victory in August 1916, was less than 13 years after the first Wright Brothers flight in December 1903, and less than eight years after their U.S. Army demonstration flight at Fort Myer, Virginia, in September 1908.
This is the story one of those early aces, Capt. Field E. Kindley. He was credited with 12 kills between June and October 1918, and was fortunate enough to survive the war. Not much is known about Kindley's early years, so there is more information in this book about his military service in the war and afterwards. Much of this comes from Kindley's letters to family members. Ballard also provides a lot of historical information to put Kindley's service in context with the history of the war.
Kindley's military career is tied to the early history of military aviation. From his flight training in the U.S., England, and Scotland; to combat over France; through post-war involvement with military aviation and air races in America, he is truly an aviation pioneer. After his flight training, he started his flying service by ferrying aircraft from...