Media Monday: Flyboys

Sometimes in an evening, Stud Muffin and I will peruse Netflix streaming for something that looks good.

Even though we hadn’t heard of Flyboys, we clicked on it and it turned out to be quite good.


The movie is about a group of American men who became France’s first fighter pilots in World War I, before our country officially entered the war.

James Franco plays the main character, Blaine Rawlings, a cowboy from Texas who has lost his family ranch. The other pilots are an African-American boxer whose father was a slave, a trust-fund man who’s a disappointment to his influential father, a man who left a sweetheart at home and promised to return a hero, and a few others. They meet up in France and begin training with the Lafayette Escadrille.

There’s one American already there, Reed Cassidy, the lone survivor of the last crop of flyboys.

The story is fictionalized, of course, but it gives a great peek into what flying one of those early planes in combat was like. Harrowing. Scary.

The Wright Brothers achieved successful flight in 1903. In 1916, just thirteen years later, men were flying and shooting each other out of the sky. Flyboys shows us that the planes were little more than tin cans with a go-cart engine and a machine gun strapped in front of the cockpit.

It’s a miracle any pilot survived.

I did a bit of research on the movie and WWI fighter pilots. The movie got a lot of criticism for historical inaccuracies. Even as I watched it, I knew that surely not all the German planes were painted red. The Americans’ planes were various colors. I knew the producers made a conscious decision to make the German planes one color for the audience and for ease of identification. And I appreciated that.

But if you want a couple hours diversion and learn a bit of history at the same time, Flyboys fits the bill.