This is an example of the standard horizon blue French service coat adopted in 1914 and modified in May 1915.
This coat was worn by Walter John Shaffer as a member of the Lafayette Flying Corps. While the Lafayette Escadrille was a specific squadron in which 38 American pilots served, the term Lafayette Flying Corps refers to the 238 American volunteers who flew in French squadrons prior to America’s involvement in the war. Following American involvement in the war on Shaffer initially flew with Spa 156 from January 1 to June 1, 1918.
Shaffer transferred to Spa 38 on June 1, 1918. On October 3rd, while strafing and flew with them until brought down by ground fire south-east of Laon was diving on a German saucisse 12 km behind enemy lines at the time. He did not escape but the war ended shortly thereafter and he was repatriated and taken prisoner on October 3rd, 1918; he
During the interwar period, Shaffer traveled the country and entertained crowds as a barnstormer but eventually gave up that nomadic life and became a captain for Eastern Air Lines. During World War II he recalled from his reserve status and serve as a pilot for Air Transport Command in the Pacific Theater. He would again serve as a captain with Eastern following the war.
Bequest of the Estate of Walter J. Shaffer
Horizon blue French Air Service service coat worn by Walter Shaffer; single breasted with seven brass buttons down front (button embossed with winged propeller); two upper box pleat patch pockets with flap with brass button closure; two lower patch pockets with flap with brass button closure; dark blue collar tabs with gold wire winged star aviation insignia; epaulets with brass button; gold wire chevron over gold wire winged propeller aviation insignia on left arm.