The Way of the Eagle

Charles J. Biddle

The story of a Philadelphia blueblood—educated at Princeton, then Harvard—who refused to wait for the United States to join the Great War but instead joined it himself, as a private, eventually rising to the command of air groups . . .
Date Published :
September 2016
Publisher :
Series :
Vintage Aviation Series
Illustration :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003900
Pages : 348
Dimensions : 7.5 X 5 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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In The Way of the Eagle, Philadelphia native Charles Biddle’s account of flying in World War I, we have a classic aviation memoir, long out of print, that provides new insights into America’s participation in the Great War.

Biddle volunteered and was active in France from 1917, where he flew as a volunteer, initially for the French in Escadrille 73, and then in the American 103rd Aero Squadron (the Lafayette Escadrille), and then the 13th Aero Squadron and 4th Pursuit Group (which he commanded).

His memoir was published shortly after his return to the United States and so provides an immediacy that is lacking in other books that were written later. It is important in that accounts of U.S. pilots from this period are relatively rare, even as he also paints a compelling picture of a group of Americans fighting as volunteers for the French. Biddle’s U.S. compatriots soon established their own capability and wrung free of French direction—and as this book reveals it was largely because of their combat prowess.

For his service Biddle was awarded the French Legion of Honour, the Croix de Guerre, the American Distinguished Service Cross and the Belgian Order of Leopold II. After the war, Biddle rejoined his family law firm in Philadelphia. He died in 1972.


1. In the Schools
2. Escadrille N. 73
3. Escadrille Lafayette
4. 13th Aero Squadron, A. E. F.
5. 4th Pursuit Group, A. E. F.


“The accounts read like a 'Boys Own' style comic and are very entertaining.”

- Air Modeller

“...will give a new generation first-hand accounts of flying a SPAD in a whirling dogfight with Fokkers and Albatross...thoroughly recommended.”

- Flypast

“Charles Biddle first flew with the French Lafayette Flying Corps in summer 1917 as part of Escadrille N.73, one of the fighter squadrons in the elite “Storks” group… His autobiography consists of his letters home during the war, sometimes supplemented by information he could not write originally due to censorship.”

- World War One Illustrated

“First published in 1919, The Way of the Eagle is widely acknowl-edged as an aviation milestone of World War I aviation literature… Progressing from French poilu to fighter ace and American Major, Charles Biddle’s action-filled account is highly recommended and now available to members in this attractive new edition.”

- Over the Front, Spring 2017

"The book is enlightening, enjoyable, and an extremely quick read that illuminates the stress and perils of aerial combat during World War I...a must read for military fliers—it is like discovering the lineage of your family tree."

- Military Review

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