Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Flying Ace: Jack Fairfax, Royal Flying Corps 1915-1918

Flying Ace: Jack Fairfax, Royal Flying Corps 1915-1918

Jim Eldridge
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 12 to and up
Scholastic UK, 2003   ISBN: 978-0439977371

Jack is as not in the least bit like his much admired brother Oswald. He is not that good a scholar and he is always getting into trouble. His father, Lord Fairfax, does not try to hide the fact that he considers Jack to be something of a disappointment. Jack in turn is determined to show his father that he has plenty to offer. When Jack finally finishes school, he tells his father that he and his best friend Alan are going to try to join the Royal Flying Corps. That is the way they want to fight “the Hun,” in the air. Jack’s father is furious, as per usual, because Jack is refusing to join the Greys, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. For generations, Fairfax men have joined the Greys and it infuriates Lord Fairfax that his wayward son is insisting on going to war in a flying machine and yet there is nothing much he can do to stop Jack.

It isn’t long before Jack and Alan are at the front providing air support for vital reconnaissance missions. While other pilots take much needed photographs of German positions and fortifications, Jack, Alan and the rest of their group do all they can to protect them from attacking German fighters.

Though Jack quickly realizes that war is a deadly business, he doesn’t really understand what war can do until he sees what has happened to his poor shell-shocked brother Oswald, invalided home from the front and in a hospital in England. Suddenly Jack realizes that the war he has been seeing from the air for so many months is a terrible thing, a monster which destroys lives by the thousands.

This moving story gives the reader a very personal view of what it might have been like to be a pilot in World War I. Like so many other young men Jack comes to see that war is not a glorious thing at all and that this new kind of war is unlike anything man has ever seen before.

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