guest post by Bill Alley
via Soubriquet

"We all remember reading Charles Shultz’s comics featuring Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace. When not cursing his nemesis, the Red Baron, the fearless pilot was often found in a Parisian cafĂ©, quaffing root beer served by a lovely French mademoiselle. Unbeknownst to most, however, the quaffing of root beer by weary pilots did not spring from the fertile imagination of the talented cartoonist. The practice was rooted in a long held aviation tradition.

Early flying machines, while considered the engineering marvels of their age, were still a delicate collection of spruce and linen held in balance by guy wires. Flying was literally a seat of the pants operation requiring intense concentration. The result was that aviators became a truly sober lot who eschewed any activities that would dull their instincts and slow their reflexes. Root beer became their beverage of choice.

The root beer quaffing tradition flourished in the years following the conclusion of the Great War. National Prohibition had become the law of the land, and breweries across America began switching over to the production of root beer. Most of the civilian flight instructors and barnstormers of aviation’s Golden Age were themselves former military pilots and they passed on the great quaffing tradition to the new generation of aviators.

Halfway through the Roaring twenties there was hardly an airfield of any stature that could not boast having among its amenities a sizeable root beer stand. Pictured here are the young ladies of the Big Chief Root Beer Stand at Vancouver, Washington’s, Pearson Field."