Join the Royal Flying Corps and Share Their Honour & Glory, the poster had said in tall blue letters.

Lies,  thought Peets as he strode across the slushy grass in his boots and helmet and leather flying coat. The only glory was a cheap, easy kind you only felt at first when you wore your wings and your Sam Browne belt with a revolver and sounded your boots on the tiles and pretended you didn’t notice women staring at you.

Mirror glory. Vainglory.

As for honor, well. Getting behind an enemy and firing your machine guns into his back hardly seemed honorable, nor did shooting down unarmed observation craft caught unawares, nor did shooting at the soldiers on the ground.

He remembered the discussion with his friend the Subadar earlier in the day.

“When you return, perhaps I will tell you the tale of the Vimana,” the Subadar had said.

“What’s a Vimana?”

“Some say it is a castle in the sky. To others it is a golden chariot employed by the Gods to deliver to us our fates.”

“Sounds unlucky,” said Peets.

“Luck, like dreams, is usually determined by its interpretation,” said the Subadar.


This is a fragment lifted from a short story about a young American flier in France in 1915 when  the life expectancy for pilots was measured in days. Let me know if you’d like to read it in the comments and I will send it to you.


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  1. Sunday Fiction

    I remember playing a computer game many years ago called “Wings”. You played a pilot in WWI, and this made me think of that as I was reading it, before I got to your explanation.

  2. mandibelle16

    A very true statement in the end. What is luck for whom? And when is it luck, when is it not? Is there such a thing as luck or is it mercy, grace, a miracle? Interesting piece about fighter pilots.

Don't just stand there.