James Salter, 6 November 2014
The age of flight had barely begun in 1914 – the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903 – but it had developed swiftly. The Wrights’ airplane – in the shape of a big box kite, made of spruce and muslin – flew at a speed of about seven miles an hour, not much faster than a man walking briskly beside it. By 1908 an improved version went forty miles an hour, and a year after that Blériot, in a plane of his own design, flew across the English Channel. When the war broke out airplanes were being used primarily for reconnaissance, but soon started firing at one another with small arms, and then progressively machine guns appeared.