The Fokker triplanes swung out onto the field and paused. The pilots opened up their needle valves to the carburetor. Their planes picked up speed, rumbling over the uneven ground and into the wind. With synchronized grace they rose into the air, flying over the trees surrounding the field.
The planes rose higher and higher, revealing the features on the surface of the Earth where those less fortunate fought. The pilots saw themselves as knights, dueling in the heavens for fame and glory, and for those they defeated, like Lucifer, a plunge to earth.
The clouds became larger and more dominating as the planes gained altitude. Finally the planes broke through and rose above the clouds. Still higher they rose until the clouds appeared as puffs of smoke.
Looking behind, Manfred saw black dots moving across the sky, circling around to sneak up from behind. He rocked his wings to attract the attention of his men and pointed behind with his thumb. Tilting the nose of his plane up for a steep climb, he exhilarated in the intoxicating rush of adrenaline that heightened all his senses in preparation for another contest of skill and daring.
At the peak of the climb, his plane upside down, he did a half-roll and fired a burst at the approaching British Camels. They whizzed past unharmed, the roar of their engines at maximum power sending an icy thrill through his bones.
Manfred choked the needle valve and cut off the blip button to the spark plugs to make his engine run rough. The speed of his plane reduced, he banked to the right, the torque from the spinning engine snapped the plane in a 180 degree turn onto the tail of a Camel.
The British youth at the controls of the plane had decided on the same maneuver seconds too late. As he desperately slowed down to perform the turn, a burst of bullets traced a line up the fuselage. A bullet ripped through his chest. He slumped over, and his plane went into a vertical earthward spiral.
Manfred shouted in glee then searched for his next target. Everywhere planes were soaring, diving, and tightly turning. Adjusting his controls to increase speed, he raised the nose of his triplane and gained altitude. A plane raced through the melee and charged straight for him.
Manfred pushed the ailerons and rudder in opposite directions, his plane sideslipped and lost altitude. Seeing the foe banking in a dive, he sideslipped the opposite way and weaved, swinging out of the line of fire, yet keeping the nose and its guns aimed at the Camel. He fired a burst. Smoke from the craft streamed out black. A lucky hit!
Before he could turn to pursue and finish off his opponent, bullets tore through his left wings from behind. Immediately, he opened the needle valve to increase speed and looked behind; his foe was on his right and diving. Manfred brought the nose up and started a loop, then he allowed his right wing to stall, his plane fell off the loop in a 120 degree turn to the right. The planes rushed towards a collision.
The British pilot took evasive action. He should have fired his guns. Manfred fired his with devastating effect; the Camel started falling apart. Grinning, he stared into the terrified eyes and waved.
Victorious, he scanned the skies. Seeing his chance, he dived away from the battle. He inspected the damage to his wings; the triplane would make it back to base.
Gazing down and into the distance, he saw the curve of the Earth on the horizon. He wondered what he would do when all of this was over. He was already the greatest ace, a gladiator adored by everyone in Germany. He shrugged, for he was never a deep thinker.