Meet Offizier-Stellvertreter August Ege from Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg, the newest pilot of Feldflieger-Abteilung 71:
Ege is a native of Württemberg and comes from a lower middle class family living in Stuttgart. He became interested in all things mechanical already at a young age, and through his father secured a job at the automobile factory of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in his home city, working and studying there to become a mechanic. Like countless other young German men, Ege joined the army to perform his compulsory military service. Ege discovered that the army way of life suited him, and thanks to his skills as a mechanic, he secured himself a position as a non-commissioned officer in the Kraftfahrtruppen (Motor Vehicle Troops), a brand new technical formation of the German army, which otherwise still relied almost completely on horse transport, like all the other European armies.
When the war broke out in August 1914 and the peacetime formations of the German army were mobilized into proper armies (Armee), Ege, now an experienced professional NCO, was sent to Etappen-Kraftwagen-Park 5 (Army Motor Vehicle Park 5) under the headquarters (AOK, Armee-Oberkommando) of 5. Armee. This army, under the command of General Wilhelm von Preußen, the Crown Prince of Prussia, participated in the German attack in the West from the very first days of the war and fought fierce battles against French forces in the Verdun sector.
Ege and his comrades were terribly busy in those bloody weeks of late summer and autumn of 1914. The army didn't have enough motor vehicles available, and the ones that they had were soon breaking down under the constant strain of almost round-the-clock use in difficult wartime conditions. After the first four or five weeks of warfare, over half of the army's motor vehicles were out of action due to mechanical failures. Factories were not making enough replacement parts and new vehicles, and in late 1914, the first fuel shortages also occurred.
As the weeks went by and the war showed no signs of being over anytime soon, Ege became more and more frustrated in his work at the Motor Vehicle Park. He became acquainted with some men serving in Flugzeug-Park 5 (5th Army Aircraft Park) who sparked in Ege an interest in military aviation. He had been fascinated by airplanes since first hearing about them many years ago, but until now automobiles had been his main interest. However, with the war in the West turning into a muddy struggle in the trenches and the motor vehicle troops being thus reduced to an even lesser role than before, a frustrated Ege was soon writing his first application for a transfer into pilot training.
It took some time before his superiors accepted Ege's application. They were reluctant to let a capable mechanic out of their hands, but Ege made a good case and finally his transfer to the Fliegertruppen (Flying Troops) of the German army was accepted in the spring of 1915.
The next stop in Ege's military career was the flying school (Fliegerschule) of the Deutsche Flugzeug-Werke (DFW) at Leipzig-Lindenthal. Ege spent several months there learning the basic skills of a military pilot, flying different types of two-seaters, mostly DFW types, as befitted the factory's own flying school. He was a good student (though not the best in his class) and was promoted to the warrant officer rank of Offizier-Stellvertreter when he finally graduated as a pilot in October 1915.
A DFW B.I trainer.
Things were looking pretty good for August Ege as he started with his brand new Aviatik C.I two-seater on his transfer flight to his new unit, Feldflieger-Abteilung 71, which was based at Frescaty in the Verdun sector, under AOK 5, his old command...
"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."
James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps