This journal, with its fifty pages, ends on July 28, 1916, with the following statement:
Friday, July 28.—Round at the front. Attacked a group of four enemy airplanes and forced down one of them. Attacked a second group of four airplanes, which immediately dispersed. Chased one of the airplanes and fired about 250 cartridges: the Boche dived, and seemed to be hit. When I shot the last cartridges from the Vickers, one blade of the screw was perforated with bullet-holes, the dislocated motor struck the machine violently and seriously injured it. Volplaned down to the aerodrome of Chipilly without accident.
A marginal note states that the aeroplane which “seemed to be hit” was brought down, and that the English staff confirmed its fall. This victory of July 28, 1916, on the Somme, was Guynemer’s eleventh; and at that time he had flown altogether 348 hours, 25 minutes. This journal of fifty pages enables us to measure the distance covered.
Impassioned young people! You who in every department of achievement desire to win the trophies of a Guynemer, never forget that your progress on the path to glory begins with “doing chores.”
LAUNCHED INTO SPACE
I. THE FIRST VICTORY
The apprentice pilot, then, left the ground for the first time at the Pau school on February 17, 1915, in a three-cylinder Bleriot. But these were only short leaps, though sufficiently audacious ones. His monitor accused him of breakneck recklessness: “Too much confidence, madness, fantastical humor.” That same evening he wrote describing his impressions to his father: “Before departure, a bit worried; in the air, wildly amusing. When the machine slid or oscillated I was not at all troubled, it even seemed funny.... Well, it diverted me immensely, but it was lucky that Maman was not there.... I don’t think I have achieved a reputation for prudence. I hope everything will go well; I shall soon know....”
During February he made many experimental flights, and finally, on March 10, 1915, went up 600 meters. This won him next day a diploma from the Aero Club, and the day following he wrote to his sister Odette this hymn of joy—not long, but unique in his correspondence: “Uninterrupted descent, volplaning for 800 meters. Superb view (sunset)....”
“Superb view (sunset)”: in the hundred and fifty or two hundred letters addressed to his family, I believe this is the only landscape. Slightly later, but infrequently, the new aviator gave a few details of observation, the accuracy of which lent them some picturesqueness; but in this letter he yielded to the intoxication of the air, he enjoyed flying as if it were his right. He experienced that sensation of lightness and freedom which accompanies the separation from earth, the pleasure of cleaving