Stephen Thompson was associated with a lot of American firsts. He flew as an observer in the First Aero Squadron, which was not only named "First" but really was first. The First Aero Squadron got its name by being the first squadron of aviators operating in the US Army, flying the first American aviation mission launched from American soil over a foreign country (i.e. Mexico, which is about 4 miles away from Columbus, New Mexico, where they launched from) to keep an eye on Pancho Villa for Pershing. Remember, Pancho Villa's attack on New Mexico was in its way worse than the Pearl...
It was not quite one month after the Red Baron's death and ceremonious burial by his enemies, that America's Ace of Aces was laid to rest among a "huge pyramid" of flowers, with "hundreds of officers from all branches of the service" in attendance.
Meanwhile, the Germans would concentrate more on training and also would be fighting more defensively, conserving their aircraft and pilots. By the fall of 1918, the fortunes of German ground forces would be declining, but the German air force would have some of its best months of the war.
Any exotic animal might have a longer expected life span than aviators, who were pioneering every new idea aircraft designers could think of and rush into production for the war. Anyone who would go two miles up in a crate with wings would probably not be overly intimidated by playing with a lion. It might seem like pretty much the same activity.