“The first notion that I had was from Anna Innsbruck, who had a fellow that was a pilot,” said Madame (and Captain) Waschbaer. “He said that pilots were required to fly the Albatros D.III aircraft from the factory to the front, and even, as a lark, snuck Anna into his aerodrome.”

“A most grievous breach of military discipline, Madame Captain,” said Inspector-General Baumkopf.

“Indeed,” said Waschbaer. “A most grievous wartime necessity.” She called out to one of the girls nearby, barking at her to mind her engine after spotting oil pooling underneath it.

“Was she caught?”

“Anna? Her fellow showed her how to fly the plane, she grasped the rudiments at once, and within a month she was flying for her fellow every other day,” Waschbaer laughed.

“Until she was caught.”

“Until he was promoted! Anna’s idea about ferrying aircraft made it to someone who could act on it, and she quite naturally came to me to recruit ladies with the necessary skill, subtlety, and dexterity. The brothels of Vienna are as much a battlefield as Flanders or the Dolomites, Inspector.”

“Clearly there is a fine line between flying a plane from the factory to flying it in combat,” Baumkopf said. “The former being quite logical wartime work, much as our womenfolk find in the munitions factories, and the latter being a different beast entirely.”

“You have our friend Luigi Cadorna to thank for that,” said Waschbaer, “when a flotilla of his Italian planes tried to intercept a factory delivery to the aerodrome here at Gorizia. Luckily, the aircraft was armed and my girls knew how to work the machine guns.”

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