He fired on his first opponent at two hundred metres away. The Fokker DVII hurtled head on at combat revs, neither shifting its path, nor firing back. Its guns flashed at the last moment, as Moses too, pulled the trigger. His answering burst couldn’t have been more than two rounds before the last of his belt disappeared into his vickers gun. His air wing leader bobbed along side of him, gesturing wildly, then intercepted another plane intent on attacking Moses.
Moses quickly loaded another belt, keeping enemy fighters at bay with short bursts of his top wing mounted Lewis gun. His engagement with the first German fighter instilled in him valuable lessons; short accurate bursts and get close. Ideally, he had to get in behind the Fokkers, a feat he had learned to do with exceptional skill, due to the years of competitive Dogfights in the future.
As he had done for the crowds, he’d tail a plane and learn his evasive pattern, getting close enough to chop his trailing banner. Here in the past, it proved the optimal distance to close with his quarry, then he engaged the guns. His first opponent slumped in the seat, a mere thirty metres ahead, before spiraling to the ground. With his distance and tactics embedded in his mind, he sought out others, evading some, while simultaneously firing on others. Planes smoked and fell from the skies. At first, he counted them, then decided not to. These were men now, not simulated opponents on a machine in his workshop.
His wing leader returned to his side as the last of the German planes slammed into a paddock. He held up ten, fingers, then added one. Moses nodded, waving him off. He banked after the rest of the wing and landed. The other pilots ran over to his plane, shouting his name and giving three cheers.
“That ought to put a huge dent in the German Flying Corp,” said the wing commander. “I’d imagine they’d want to pull what’s left of their planes well back from the trenches.”
The pilots became boisterous; each trying to speak over the other about the exploits of their newest member. Henderson pushed his way into the rabble. Moses could hardly hear the mechanic speak his name over the din.
“I’ll need you this way, sir!” he shouted, gesturing for Moses to follow him.
“See you at the pub!” cried one of the pilots as Moses jogged after the mechanic.
“I thought you might like to see an old friend, sir,” said Henderson on the walk over to the hangars.
Apart from God, Moses could think of only one other friend.
“The Magpie’s here?!” he said.
“Yes, sir. Two trucks came while you were out. One to tow your plane in; the other brought a big tank. I’d say it’s the fuel you need. This war’s got so advanced, sir. First your plane, the fuel, and now the trucks. I reckon I’ve only ever seen two before, and I come from Melbourne.”