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EXAMINING & REFLECTING UPON A LARGELY FORGOTTEN HISTORY

An Incipient Mutiny: The Story of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Pilot Revolt - Dwight R. Messimer

"AN INCIPIENT MUTINY: The Story of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Pilot Revolt" is a fascinating book detailing the establishment and development of aviation in the U.S. Army from 1907 (when it was a part of the Signal Corps) through May 1918, when it achieved independent status within the Army as the United States Army Air Service.

Reading this book proved to be a revelation in broadening my understanding of the evolution and development of U.S. Army aviation, which did not run smooth. Indeed, "An Incipient Mutiny" is "a shocking account of shortsightedness, mismanagement, criminal fraud, and cover-up that led to a pilot revolt against the military establishment."

What becomes clear to the reader is the sadly deficient airplanes (in terms of design flaws and poor construction) the Signal Corps purchased and expected its pilots to fly. Pilot fatalities in flying accidents by 1914 amounted to 25%, a death rate so horrendous that no life insurance company would issue an insurance policy to Army pilots. This need not have happened, because there were other airplanes in the market that were available to the U.S. Army that were better in quality and less expensive than the ones the Signal Corps were content to buy and use. Such negligence on the part of the Signal Corps leadership (and by extension, the Army itself) was obscene and inexcusable.

For anyone with an interest in learning something about the real history of the development of military aviation in the U.S., "An Incipient Mutiny" is a book that will engage and absorb your interest. It has a cast of characters and photographs that add depth and perspective to a compelling story that needs to be more widely known and understood.