War Birds: A Diary of an Unknown Aviator

This documentary is based on the sensational 1926 novel by World War I aviator Elliott White Springs of South Carolina. When the novel War Birds was published in 1926, its frank depiction of the profligate lifestyle of pilots scandalized America and became the inspiration for movies such as The Dawn Patrol and Wings. It tells the story of three young Southerners who join the British Royal Air Force in 1917 and become known as the Three Musketeers for their high-spirited ways. But the adventure of flying is soon tempered by the realization that they have joined a dangerous profession; in this, the dawn of aviation when airplanes are both flammable and unsafe, a majority of pilots will die. The film contains extensive documentary footage of World War I, images of pilot training in the U.S. and Britain as well as interviews with descendants of Springs and Grider and excerpts from an interview with Larry Callahan in 1968. Airs 11/20 at 1 a.m.


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