World War I Podcast

The Lafayette Escadrille



In August 1914, as decade-old diplomatic crises erupted into war on the European continent, a group of American citizens, in defiance of US President Woodrow Wilson’s declaration of neutrality, volunteered for French military service. Of those Americans who volunteered during neutrality, thirty-eight uniquely distinguished themselves not as ambulance drivers or Foreign Legionnaires, but as part of an all-American aero squadron flying for the French Air Service. Dubbed the Lafayette Escadrille, the formation of this all-American squadron in the French Air Service provided a foundation for a strategic alliance between the US and the Allied Powers, established a core of experienced pilots for the US Air Service upon its entry into the First World War, and developed a uniquely American flying culture and identity that continues to exist today.