" 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. Once he even roped an antelope. 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. He became the first American to down five enemy planes and won the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action. When the United States entered the war, he became the first person to fly the American colors over German lines. Libby achieved the rank of captain before he transferred back to the United States at the behest of another aviation legend, then-colonel Billy Mitchell. Written in 1961 and never before published, Horses Don't Fly is a rare piece of Americana. Libby's memoir of his cowboy days in the last years of the Old West will remind readers of Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy-but it's the real thing. 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 a modest, self-deprecating, and often humorous voice in a pure American vernacular, Horses Don't Fly is, as Winston Groom notes in his introduction, "not only an important piece of previously unpublished history [but] a gripping and uplifting story to read."
Biographies-Memoirs, Historical, United-States,