“I’m at your five o’clock, Mike. Maintain heading.” Then I decided to shoot him down.
It was easy to spot him, with all that yellow paint. I charged my guns. This would be my fifth kill.
He was headed for the mountain. He would have to climb or turn. Either way I would have him as he slowed down.
Now. I held the triggers down for a 3-second burst. The Lewis guns chattered busily over my engine’s roar.
He was quick, pulling back instantly into a hard climb. A loop, I thought, and then he would come down on my six o’clock, firing. I should have seen his hard left rudder input, but he had startled me.
I lost him above my wing. Not good. Lose sight, lose the fight.
I twisted my neck to check my six o’clock, the hair standing on the back of my neck. I saw him flash past. He was inverted, rolling upright on the down line. A half Cuban Eight. He flashed past my left wingtip, rolling perfectly about his longitudinal axis, diving away. He wasn’t going to fight.
I followed as he dove for no man’s land between the trenches far below us.
Then he pulled up from the dive and flew straight and level. I throttled back quickly, careful not to get out in front of his guns. I was at his four o’clock. Why was he flying straight and level? All I had to do was roll left and empty my cartridge clips into his airplane. Dead duck.
Then I hesitated. They were waving at me. There was a girl in the front seat. A girl? This was the Western Front, 1918. Right?
“Tonet, I’m going to give you my belly now.” And Mike peeled off, headed back for Angeles City Flying Club’s Woodland Airpark. Wait. This was 2012. I wasn’t a hotshot World War I ace. Enough daydreaming. I had to land the Cessna and catch dinner in Manila with my sons.
As I flew over the flughafen, I saw the other airplanes of Staffelführer Manfred’s Jagdstaffel 11. I saw Herr Hautpmann Zotter’s Little Red Fokker. I reached into the sack at my feet for my first bomb… .
Posted from Manila, January 1, 2013.