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PFM Membership Meeting

Saturday, January 11, 2003

PFM held its first quarterly membership meeting of 2003 on Saturday, January 11. Due to cold, drizzly weather, turnout was light. Despite that, the program went ahead as scheduled. Bill Broussard gave a presentation on World War I flight training methods in the Royal Flying Corps and the U.S. Air Service. He emphasized the poor preparation given to pilots early in the war, which, although it improved as the war went on, never really got to the point of preparing a new pilot for combat.

Tom Gaylord followed with a look at a typical U.S. pilot's experiences in the Air Service. Starting with his induction into the Army, Tom followed William Muir Russel's life through his initial training, flight training, and introduction to wartime life in Europe. After final training in France, William Russel flew ferry flights for some time before wangling a transfer to an active-duty pursuit squadron. He arrived at about the time the squadron was converting from Nieuports to SPAD XIII aircraft, which it did in a single 24-hour period. Unfortunately, Russel's combat career was fairly short, for he was shot down and killed soon after joining the squadron. After the war, his family put together a memorial book which has survived, and was quite valuable in preserving the details of Russel's service life.