Ofz. Alfonse Straub FFA 62, Aviatik B.I June 2, 1915
We arrived on a warm, late spring day at Douai airfield. The trip from Koln took a little under four hours, with the fields and towns of Germany finally yielding to those of Belgium. The only real difference I noticed is the distinct lack of forest - the Flanders region is more heavily developed than the north.
Upon arriving I reported to Hautpmann Gerhard Holland, an amiable fellow. He said my first few missions would be simple enough, really just getting more used to my mount before the real fun begins.
As for said mount, the Aviatik machine is a wonder of modern technology. Still, even at 80 kph she has trouble staying in the air and, except for a dive, it's hard to imagine a machine going faster. This means she has a tendency to stall which can make her awkward, especially immediately after lift off.
Along with the captain and myself there are four others in our squadron. Two in particular stand out: Leutnant Oswald Boelcke seems like a natural leader to me and will no doubt command his own FFA some day. Boelcke says he has been working on rules or guidelines for new pilots to survive by. I'll be very curious to see what he comes up with.
Offizierstellvertreter Max Immelman is the other. I watched in awe as he put the Aviatik through its paces that first afternoon. I never saw an aircraft come around so fast - would not have thought it possible. I spoke with him and we got along famously, having a fascinating conversation about an aeroplane's energy and how best to utilize it.
I wish I could say I got along with my beobachter, Walter Moelders. When I found him quite out of order in the officer's mess I told him he would have a hard time of it tomorrow, which is when he made a reference to my mother I had to resent, and it deteriorated from there. I would not want to count on him in a fight.
On June 2nd I flew my two 'training' flights, one being a pair of laps around Douai, and the other a sprint to the front. During the latter I flew low over Lens to the admiration of the Frenchmen there.
You can't really hate them you know. Yes, the French need to be put in their place, but after this is over I would like to visit out of uniform. Maybe next spring.
Approaching the lines I got my first good look at the trenches.
I almost feel sorry for anyone trying to storm those!
Speaking of which, since I was kindly given some bombs for this 'mission,' I dropped them on the French trenches. No real damage however.
Tomorrow, Leutnant Boelcke promised me some real action. So far our missions revolve around artillery spotting and bombing. I can't wait!