The captain was certainly a peculiar person, or oddball to most of his fellow flyers. He was mad at the world for having a world war, that disrupted his life. He was especially mad at the Germans, called Huns, heinies, boches, krauts, square heads, and fritz. The British were called Englanders, tommies, or limeys. The Americans were called yanks, doughboys, or colonials.
Captain Thomson liked to go up alone at the crack of dawn. His mechanic had to make sure the BE-2 was ready to fly and warmed up. Especially making sure it was patched up from the last day's escapade. The mad major liked to skim over the earth, just a few feet above the bushes or meadow grass. He was looking for dirty broche foot sluggers, gravel-crushers, slang for the German PBI (poor bloody infantry). When enemy troops were spotted he would begin strafing them. Every fourth bullet was a tracer bullet that glowed and could be seen in flight.
A tracer bullet consisted of eight parts barium peroxide, and two parts magnesium. This is why the mad major's war bird had so many holes everywhere.
Now, the La Gorge airdrome's top brass was constantly raking him over the coals for these low flying stunts. But he always gave the proper excuse for this. "Well, gentlemen, I am terribly sorry but you know how unruly these bloody air machines can be. It was out of control and wouldn't rise at all. I am awfully bloody sorry."
Now, on this particular morning when the mad major buzzed past the German albatross fighter pilot, and just smiled and waved, it made the German pilot so furious, he shook his fist at the British pilot then he swings around and begins to chase the mad major by rushing his airplane. This turns into a hound and hare chase, just over the heads of the soldiers in the trenches below. They expected to see the two planes crash, locked together in a mangled heap. Each side also picked it's target in the air, banged away at the two airplanes. As the dogfight continued, neither pilot was able to gain the advantage over the other. The two were flying in wide areas that now took them over the German lines.
Finally, the mad major flew just 20 feet behind the albatross. Then he started down in hawk like swoops, making it clear he would ram the German ship into the ground. Many times this had happened, but if the wheels were used wrong, you had no landing gear left for your self. The captain had his pistol but didn't use it. That would be like shooting a mother plover (dove) sitting on her nest of eggs. With each swoop, the German plane is forced closer to the ground. It now became clear that the British flyer was fanatical, like a madman. So the German pilot just gave up, and landed his war bird. He leaped from the albatross, and just stood there bewildered. It was useless to run, for it was all open country. And the mad Englander was flying back to finish him off. The mad major made a swooping run over the grounded aircraft. He had just seen the Hun pilot make a "dead stick" landing, because he was out of gas. When you have to glide down, landing with a dead engine, that is a dead stick landing.
Then, the mad major pulled another peculiar stunt, he didn't harm the enemy pilot! Instead, he smiled and waved again, then headed for his home airdrome. This sure left a very puzzled enemy pilot behind.
Canvas Falcons by Stephen Longstreet
The Fighters by Thomas R. Funderburk
Aces and Aircraft of WWI by Christopher Campbell.