History on a Shirt
Lafayette Escadrille t-shirt
Lafayette Escadrille Short Sleeve Blue Dusk Gildan 100% Cotton T-Shirt
The aviators of the Lafayette Escadrille, the first Americans flying for France in World War 1, pose on this shirt above the phrase expressing what they were there for - "Squaring our debt to Lafayette". The front of the shirt shows the Vintage Aero Flying Museum logo.
The Lafayette Escadrille began on 20 April 1916, had its first victory on 18 May 1916, its first death on 23 June 1916. During its time it achieved 57 victories with only 9 deaths. The "Valiant 38" pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille were the first part of the Lafayette Flying Corps, the Americans flying for France before the US got "over there" as a nation. After the US entered the war, many from the squadron were sent to other squadrons to pass on to incoming US pilots their experience in how to avoid getting killed their first time in combat.
The Lafayette Escadrille was a combination of some of the highest and lowest classes in America, a group of men who saw before most of their countrymen the need to fight this war, and looked ahead to untried possibilities of aviation. Getting in the airplanes of that day, never mind going up in combat, required a certain wildness, feistiness, and self-confidence. Traditions and attitudes begun in the Lafayette Escadrille formed the basis of the "fighter pilot attitude" in the USAF.