Tried, Tested and Transformed

How The Great War Changed the Lives of Pilots

My Life Story

My name is Alex Smith, and I was a pilot for the Canadian Army between years 1914-1918. The Great War was very tough for pilots as airplanes were just invented and they were not that durable therefore our planes could be shot down by just one single bullet to the engine. If you joined the army as a pilot, people would think that you just wanted to commit suicide because the amount of pilot deaths was very high. Most of the pilots I knew, didn't last more than a couple weeks of service.
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Tried 1914-1918

The first ever airplane that was built was from the Wright brothers (about 11 years earlier). So the airplane was somewhat useful during the war. My job was to fly the airplane around the enemy territory and either take pictures or to spy on them and try to find out what their plan is. I was very nervous whenever flying because since the engine of the plane was right in front of me, one single shot at the engine from a Hun would be the end of my life. So I was also on the lookout for incoming missiles. And us pilots all kept a revolver on us just for safe keeping in case if our plane was to ever catch aflame and suicide will be a lot less painful.
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1915 The Big Year

1915 for us pilots, was a very big year as it saw the invention of putting machine guns behind the propellers in front of the pilot therefore he can shoot other enemy planes or other Jerry's. We also came up with the idea of carrying gases or bombs and dropping them into enemy territory.

The Big Problem

Now once they built these fighter planes, they added on the machine guns behind the propellers. The problem with this was that whenever we would fire this machine gun, we would shoot the propellers which would break the propellers and cause us to crash. A matter of fact, I myself crashed a plane once because of this problem. But, yet not like so many other pilots, I luckily survived by crashing into an open field.

The Solution

But British engineers found a way to help solve this problem by they added a synchronized gear system. which is something like a series of raised bumps on the main propeller shaft. The bumps would be lined up with the propeller blades so when the raised bump has rotated toward the machine gun, the propeller blade would also be in front of the machine gun. Doing this then made flying planes and attacking a lot easier without risking firing off your propellers. And just in case, we also made the propellers made of steel so that it would decrease the chance even more. And now we can have "dog fights" which is when two air planes try to shoot each other down. And we will not shoot off our own propellers from now on.
Dogfights - WW1 Uncut - Dan Snow - BBC


In 1917, we experienced a major problem. In Halifax Harbor, two boats( holding explosives) from different countries had collided and absolutely demolished all of Halifax as thousands of people died from this explosion involving two boats. The big problem with this was that the Harbor was where we would pickup or drop off soldiers who were injured, or bring in supplies. And now because of this explosion there is no way of getting back to Canada as now we are stuck in Europe.

But luckily we have reached an agreement with the United States of America that would allow us to send ships to the U.S and we carry them over to Canada by train.

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Yes after 4 gruesome years of fighting in the Great War, the war had some horrible conditions, I lost many friends, and I am just so excited to finally see my family again. Oh I just cannot wait to get to my normal way of life again. But, yet I am deeply sorry for some of my mates who have either passed away or have to deal with "shell shock".

Tested 1919-1923

Using Planes For Airmail

When the war finally ended, I came back to my family. But, the problem is that now since the war is over we became unemployed. But, then a new job was created in which we would send mail across our country from place to place. That became a household job for ex pilots after The Great War. And it also gave me something to do as a job.
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The Big Bad Flu!!!

A big problem when we came back to Canada was we were all so happy to see our families and try to live everyday lives again, except for when the big, bad Spanish Flu came along. This flu was so deadly that it killed at least 20 million people world wide and 50 000 Canadians and a lot of those Canadians were my mates during the war. People (like myself) were walking in the streets not touching anything and had masks on to prevent the disease to take over them. The Spanish Flu was a flu you would catch which the side effects are extreme fatigue, fever and headache, the victims will start to turn blue, severe cough and vomiting and bleeding from nose and ears and mouth.

New Ways Of Transportation and Uses of Planes

Ever since the Great War has ended, planes have now been used for various reasons including just for transportation in general. Now people who can afford it can now fly planes to get to places faster instead of taking boats or cars. And they have also been very useful for farmers because now they can be used to spread pesticides across their fields faster and they can cover more area. So this helped farmers so much in crop production and growing more vegetables.
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Transformed 1924-1929


1924 marked the start of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). It is just what it sounds like, the Canadian air force that will help protect the skies in Canada. I was honored in getting invited to join this spectacular air force and help fight and protect Canada from any enemies.
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My Main role in the RCAF

My role in the RCAF was as a coast guard pilot in Nova Scotia and to help protect the coast. I just have to say that it was the best job on earth and I would never change it for anything.

My Life

And now I live with my family in the world's greatest country, Canada! I am happy about how my life has progressed as I have learned so much.
Canadian National Anthem lyrics Oh Canada