I created this original documentary from archival footage that I digitally restored. When the United States entered World War 1 in April, 1917 there was an immediate need to create an "Air Service" almost from scratch. Thousands of pilots, observers, bombardiers and gunners had to be trained in record time for the air war in Europe at newly constructed or converted facilities spread across America. One of the surprises in this is film is the use of early "Virtual Reality" simulations in training! The venerable Curtiss ""Jenny" training plane is featured throughout. Jennys lived on long after the War for many years as civilian trainers, in air shows and for personal use.
The location here is Hazelhurst Training Field at Mineola, NY on Long Island. The facility was renamed in 1919 as "Roosevelt Field" in memory of Quentin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt's son, who lost his life to a German Fokker over the Marne serving in the Air Service in France. Charles Lindbergh took off from the same field in 1927 for his solo flight across the Atlantic and Roosevelt Raceway was built on part of the field previously used for take offs and landings.
The United States started World War 1 with a tiny air force. By the the Armistice in 1918, the USAS had grown to 195,024 officers and men. More than 2,000 Air Service personnel reached the Front. 681 aviators died, 25%percent in combat, the rest in accidents. The "Great War" is rapidly fading from popular memory, which is a shame. It's worth our attention for the sacrifices made and lessons that still need to be learned.