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 café, 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."



soubriquet said...

Argh Nononononooooooo!
Soubriquet must disambiguate immediately. Though he had discussed root-beer, Snoopy, The Red Baron, and pilots with Red Dirt Girl, and she having been almost certain that he was attempting, once again, to convince her of something quite spurious, he offered to give proof of his statement that Root Beer and pilots went together like um, er, yorkshire and pudding, and then sent this pic and text.
He can not claim this post, because, in fact, he googled Root beer+pilots, and found both picture and text in a blogpost here: http://justincasesomeonemightbeinterested.blogspot.com/2010/06/bills-counterfactual-follies-quaffing.html
The writer of the blog is Bill Alley, and he's also written a book on the history of Pearson Field "Pearson Field: Pioneering Aviation In Vancouver and Portland (WA) (Images of Aviation) http://tinyurl.com/billalley

So please, dear RDG, credit to Bill Alley, aviation historian, not Souberquit, bifusticated numbwit.

red dirt girl said...

Oops! my bad. I thought it a bit odd when you put your post in quotes...xxx

Adullamite said...

RAF men just got drunk!
Real men didn't use 'Root Beer!'

Of course their all dead now.....

soubriquet said...

Here's another intersting fact.
There were no constipated pilots of the first-world war era.
Why? Because both aero and car engines used castor oil as a lubricant, and leaked quite a lot of it, deliberately (it's called "constant loss" lubrication)
pilots were, of course, usually directly behind the engine, so they were constantly inhaling castor oil mist.
"Smell it? I'm sitting in it!".

soubriquet said...

Vickers Gunbus pilots might have been constipated. The engine, and propellor were behind them.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

RDM, is your son still considering Cornell?

Gary's third pottery blog said...

RDM, DUH! The young man should go to Duke. He is southern, right? You ask about the Ithaca winters. I am used to them. BUT we are expecting snow in the next few days, here in the final days of the spring term. That is entirely ordinary. If I was from Texas I would go to Duke :)