Because I’m both an airplane nut and history buff, many of my European work layovers involve either seeking out aerial adventures or investigating some bit of the 2,000 years of tumultuous history that seem to lurk around the continent’s every corner. Often, I am able to combine these interests—for a great deal of aviation history took place in Europe, and much of it is well-documented. The airplanes, theaters and campaigns of World War II are likely the most familiar to Americans, for whom the ultimate “just war”—and America’s heroic role in it—fills both grade school textbooks and untold hours of cable TV programming. The aviation history of World War I and the interwar period, on the other hand, is much more obscured by greater gaps of time, technology and culture—and the fact that so few airplanes of that time still exist, much less fly. Lately, I’ve been trying to flesh out my knowledge of European aviation history between 1914 and 1938, and to that end I recently enjoyed two enlightening outings during layovers in Venice, Italy, and Shannon, Ireland. The former is my subject for this month, while the latter will have to wait for the October issue.