"Flyboys" is a film released in 2006 by MGM Studios. Directed by Tony Bill, it stars James Franco, Martin Henderson, Jean Reno and Jennifer Decker. The film focuses on a group of American soldiers as they enlist in the Lafayette Escadrille, an air squadron based in France during World War I.
The film's protagonist is Blaine Rawlings, a farmhand from Texas who enlists to save his family's farm. The film also follows dilettante Briggs Lowry, who wishes to escape his father's overbearing grasp; and Eugene Skinner, an African-American boxer. Their antagonist is a group of German pilots, the most vicious of whom, Black Falcon, does not honor the code of the sky.
The film follows these U.S. soldiers through enlistment, training and combat. They are led by a French captain, but they come to see American pilot Reed Cassidy as their mentor and they follow his lead. The Lafayette Escadrille flies some of the most dangerous missions of the war, and on its first mission it is ambushed by a group of German pilots. After losing two pilots and landing, the Lafayette Escadrille is pursued by the Black Falcon, who uses a pistol to shoot one of the pilots who is standing on the ground.
Reed Cassidy is killed while heroically completing a mission. Rawlings decides to seek revenge for the death of Cassidy, and he pursues the Black Falcon after everybody has landed. They go head-to-head in a dogfight.
All of the characters in the film are based on real-life counterparts, though there are several historical inaccuracies. For instance, the Lafayette Escadrille was actually only one unit, while the subunit the Lafayette Flying Corps was another, which Eugene Skinner was a part of. Most of the aircraft used in the film are relatively inaccurate, and computer-generated images in the film show aircraft that were not available at the time.
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