Like all wars, the first war in the air greatly accelerates the technological developments -that’s the way we humans are. The flimsy artifacts powered by sputtering engines rapidly evolved into strong, powerful and feisty warmachines. The aircrew personal equipment also suffered drastic transformations. Gone were the devil-might-care era of the pioneers with their hat turned backwards to be supplanted by seriously professional gear.
By 1917 things looked like this. The oustanding Fokker D.VII with its advanced thick wing profile, clever no-nonsense construction methods and highly-compresed engine and a perfectly attired “rider”. Outside the gorgeously checkered D.VII fuselage we can observe an experimental installation of the Ahrendt & Heylandt liquid oxygen apparatus with its protected flask and rebreathing bag. The pilot uses a simple pipestern-type mouthpiece and a handy nose clip to prevent him from inhaling outside air. I simple adore the pilot huge stopwatch.
Photo: National Archives.