‘I have decided to join the Royal Flying Corps. I’m going to learn to fly, and fight the Hun that way’. When seventeen-year-old Jack Fairfax announces this, his father is disgusted. It is 1915, and Jack is breaking away from the family tradition of joining the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Although his father does not approve, they come to a compromise, that if Jack’s career in the RFC does not bring him success, then he will honour the family tradition. Jack and his friend, Alan Dixon, travel to London to get some basic training and leave with civilian flying certificates. They undergo several months of intensive fighter plane training and are finally allowed onto the Front in 1916.
Over the next few months, Jack adapts to life as a fighter pilot, flying many missions, and losing many comrades along the way, but miraculously both he and Alan survive unharmed, until a meeting with a squad of unusual German fighter planes. These Fokker EIs astonish Jack when he first sees them as they are painted bright yellow, instead of the usual dull brown colour – and are quickly given the nickname ‘the flying bananas’. Jack’s plane is hit by the leader, Von Klempter, but will he survive being shot down from 10,000 feet and land safely in a plane with no engine that is suddenly heavier than the air that surrounds it?
I found Flying Ace a relatively simple read, and although it was well written, in places it read more like an information manual on fighter planes of the First World War, rather than a novel. This was due to some of the information given being irrelevant and unnecessary considering there were several pages at the end of the book on the characteristics of the main German and British fighter planes. I would recommend this book to 11-14 year olds.