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Horses Don't Fly: The Memoir of the Cowboy Who Became a World War I Ace

Horses Don't Fly: The Memoir of the Cowboy Who Became a World War I Ace

by Frederick Libby

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From breaking wild horses in Colorado to fighting the Red Baron's squadrons in the skies over France, here in his own words is the true story of a forgotten American hero: the cowboy who became our first ace and the first pilot to fly the American colors over enemy lines.    

Growing up on a ranch in Sterling, Colorado, Frederick Libby mastered the cowboy arts of roping, punching cattle, and taming horses. As a young man he exercised his skills in the mountains and on the ranges of Arizona and New Mexico as well as the Colorado prairie. When World War I broke out, he found himself in Calgary, Alberta, and joined the Canadian army. In France, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an "observer," the gunner in a two-person biplane. Libby shot down an enemy plane on his first day in battle over the Somme, which was also the first day he flew in a plane or fired a machine gun. He went on to become a pilot. He fought against the legendary German aces Oswald Boelcke and Manfred von Richthofen, and became the first American to down five enemy planes. He won the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action.  

Libby's memoir of his cowboy days in the last years of the Old West evokes a real-life Cormac McCarthy novel. His description of World War I combines a rattling good account of the air war over France with captivating and sometimes poignant depictions of wartime London, the sorrow for friends lost in combat, and the courage and camaraderie of the Royal Flying Corps. Told in charming, straightforward vernacular, Horses Don't Fly is an unforgettable piece of Americana.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611454499
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 03/15/2012
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 554,679
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Libby was born on a ranch in Sterling, Colorado, and became the first American ace of World War I. He passed away in 1970.

Table of Contents

Introduction Winston Groom ix

Preface xi

Map of Western Front 1914-18 xii

1 Sunrise 1

2 An Antelope, a Rope and a Small Boy 6

3 School and Sis, Wild Horses and the Stinkenest Hog Wallow in the World 13

4 My First Big Battle 21

5 Our Home Ranch and a Man with a Gun 29

6 A Girl, a Jug of Whiskey and Sheepherders 37

7 Wild Horse Roundup for Polo Ponies 42

8 Phoenix, Wild Horses, Wild Steers and a Broken Leg 49

9 Christmas Eve, with Hundreds of Dead Cattle 58

10 Denver, Where I'm Rolled of My Loot by a Pimp 69

11 More Wild Horses and a Big Gray Outlaw 75

12 Fourth of July Celebration, Susie, Cyclone and a Wild Beautiful Brown Stallion 83

13 God's Country-Imperial Valley 94

14 Calgary, Investment in Oil and a Soldier of the King 102

15 Loss of Citizenship, Sergeants Moose and Little Moose and the Motor Transport 111

16 An Operation, an Examination, Mutiny and War 119

17 I Join the Royal Air Force to Get out of the Rain 129

18 First Flight over German Lines, one Enemy Plane Confirmed 140

19 Recommended for my Commission and Trying to Live, I have a Great Idea 151

20 Back to France as an Officer, Where I Meet and Become Friends with the Royal Flying Corps' Greatest Fighting Ace, Lieutenant Albert Ball 160

21 In a Drinking Bout, Price and I Lose a Battle to Our Own Artillery 170

22 Boelcke, the Great German Ace, and his Boys Cause us Our Greatest Loss in Any Single Engagement 179

23 Captain Price Returns to England-I Follow Shortly-We are Both Decorated at Buckingham Palace by his Majesty King George V 189

24 Thank God for America's Ambassador Page and his Military Attaché, Captain Champman 200

25 A Great Major, a Sick Observer and a Forced Landing in our Trenches 213

26 Dinner at the Savoy in London to Honor our Old Commanding Officer-Back to France, Where we Lose Captain Harold Balfour in a Dogfight 226

27 Two Americans who Lost their Citizenship Return to America at General Mitchell's Recommendation 236

28 Two Weeks with my Family in Boston-Then Texas, Where Space Began-A Hospital that was a Morgue 246

29 New York to See a Great Specialist-The Auctioning of the First American Colors to Cross the German Lines 258

30 A Free Man, Lucky Beyond Belief 264

Acknowledgments 269

Afterword Sally Ann Marsh 271

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