Characterization in “Winged Warfare”

Since the book I am reading is an autobiography, I really only have deep insight on one character so far. From what I have observed about how he portrays himself in can deduce some common themes. Lt. Col. William Bishop is fundamentally always at conflict with himself. For instance, he is both very impulsive and emotional but then at other times very calculated. These two differing sides of him are often at conflict resulting him to make mistakes. This can be exemplified in how he landed a plane for the first time. At first he went  by the book. He read his instruments and lined up to the runway at the correct altitude. As he approached the runway instead of trusting his training he suddenly decided that he felt he was to high. His “gut feeling” conflicted with his calm and calculated side. This resulted in him failing to make a decision on how to land in time so he had to restart completely. Another problem he faces is that he puts over emphasis on getting victories. His thirst for “disabling enemy aircraft” has caused him to nearly crash and nearly become captured. During one of his patrols over enemy territory he encountered three enemy fighters. After the ensuing fight and his first aerial kill, because he was so distracted and persistent, he got lost over enemy territory and ran out of fuel. After his engine stalled he glided in the general direction where he thought friendly lines were. Turns out that “gut feeling of direction was just enough to return to friendly lines”. I feel this almost dangerous need for him to shoot down as many aircraft as possible stems from a desire for self validation and hatred for the enemy. From what is written so far he hasn’t outright stated that he desires to shoot down enemy aircraft because he wants to satisfy himself. He has written though that his dream is too shoot down an enemy Zeppelin and watch it “Burst into flames”. He is very determined and strong headed to say the least. Lt. Col. William A. Bishop is already a very complicated character and  I kind of hope he manages to solve his internal conflicts before he gets himself into too much trouble.


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Humor in “Winged Warfare”

Within the book I am reading humor simply, unequivocally, does not exist. The book is about air combat in world war one. It is an autobiography from the perspective of Lt. Col. William Bishop. The book is nonfiction. Although this specific book does not have humor, plenty of instances occur in other non fiction titles especially biographies where humor can exist. For instance, an author can retell a funny story or instance where humor happened in real life. Sadly it seems that Lt. Col.  William Bishop has so far not experienced any notable humor yet in the war. If I had to add humor in this book it would definitely be dark humor. War strangely offers a lot of options when it comes to dark humor. I think this is because deep down we find extreme violence and destruction cosmically ironic. War is also easy to add humor to because it is filled with authority. It is human nature to mock and sometimes disrespect authority. By combining these two ideas anyone can come up with interesting ways to add humor. I think it would be funny if William Bishop accidentally ran over the Captain’s beloved dog and had to hide it from him. I can imagine Bishop’s friends scheming up a hilarious way to run into a french town and steal a similar dog that they saw while out drinking. After a long walk and an entertaining drunken squabble with the dogs owner, they place the dog in the captain’s barracks. For a few days everything seems to be fine until the captain notices that this dog looks slightly different from the original. After each time the captain notices a subtle difference he says something like “Nah, I must be losing my marbles”. The boys involved in the dog napping scheme breath a sigh of relief. Another situation that could be added would be that one private always messes things up. It could be a running gag through the entirety of Bishop’s experience that this one private always screws up everything. After each mess up the captain of the airfield would yell at the poor clumsy private but no improvement would ever be shown. I am definitely a little disappointed with the lack of humor in my book. I would think that at least one funny thing similar to the ones I previously mentioned, would happen.


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Introduction to my latest read “Winged Warfare” by Lt. Col. William A. Bishop

As the previous title mentioned I am reading “Winged Warfare”. It is an autobiography and first hand account of a young officers experience in WW1 as an airborne intelligence collector and later, a fighter ace. I selected this book because it is everything that I know I like. It has airplanes, is nonfiction, and takes place during a time of large historical significance. In the first page the subject and author of the book is introduced. We first meet William Bishop where he started his career in the infantry. Already it is clear to see his a very ambitious and open person. His reason for transferring out of the infantry and into the air service is as entertaining and funny as it is petty. In short he hated the mud and the rain on the ground. He fantasized about soaring above all the mud and the rain in an aircraft. After having the ability to transfer out of the army he did. So far Col. Bishop seems like a very uptight person as well. This at times seems to conflict his ambition. For instance already in his training he has had to balance his eagerness to fly with his procedural and preparedness to fly. Planes in this day were not only extremely difficult to fly at this time but also very unforgiving of mistakes. His eagerness to fly resulted in him nearly crashing during his first solo landing due to the fact he wasn’t yet ready to solo in the first place. His uptight tendencies also resulted in a problem for him because he slowed down his night flying qualification more than he should have by obsessing over details. Already in the book I believe this will be a struggle for him especially during wartime. Wartime has a way of rewarding impulsiveness and risk taking as well as harshly punishing it. Similarly, wartime also has a way of rewarding those who pay attention to detail and follow orders. With lives at stake I am very excited to see how Col. Bishop deals with this inner conflict and finds the perfect balance.