No Parachute: It’s the title of my blog. And it’s the title of an authobiographic book by Arthur Gould Lee: No Parachute: A Fighter Pilot In World War I
I came to this name for my new blog while reading another authobiographic book by Arthur Gould Lee: Open Cockpit: A Pilot of the Royal Flying Corps
No Parachute describes his live as a World War I fighter pilot at No. 46 Squadron RFC in France between 1917 and 1918. Flying in Sopwith Pub and Camel.
The book Open Cockpit covers a longer period, from the time he learned to fly in 1916 until his active service spell completed and he acted as a flight instructor on Sopwith Camles up to the end of the war.
He started his flying training with Maurice Farman and Avro aircraft and also flew the infamous B.E.2c ‘Quirk‘.
While nowadays a parachute and an ejection seat is part of standard fighter pilots and aircraft equipment, a hundred years ago it wasn’t. Fighter pilots were death-defying young men that took place in an aircraft build of wood and fabric, powered by 80hp engines and tried to kill each other with machine guns mounted on the fuselage, firing through the propeller arc while performing aerobatic flight maneuvers.
In 2015 you would call them crazy, in 1915 they were heros – like Pop-Stars… without parachutes.
Actually there were parachutes! The parachute has been invented more than hundred years before WWI by the French aviation pioneer André-Jacques Garnerin. There are rumors, that during WWI, the responsible commands of both sides, the Triple-Entente as well as the Central-Forces, demanded their fighter pilots to go up into the air without parachutes. But if you have a look of the parachutes of this time and the size of a 1917 Sopwith Camel cockpit you’ll come to the conclusion: There was simply no space left for something like a parachute.
For me, this period is quite fascinating. The speed of aircraft development, how they figured out the basic rules of aerial combat that are still valid today. The famous fighter aces as well as the ordinary pilots and their squads. The battley they fought, the tactics they used, the aircraft they flew. That’s what I would like to write about in this blog.
No Parachute – It’s a expression of honour to these aviation pioneers.