One of those things recently rediscovered is the character James Bigglesworth, called 'Biggles' by his pals. What a much-welcomed treat!
If you're British or Australian, nothing here will likely be new to you; Biggles is an old school children's literary institution. They're as ingrained as the 'Boy's Own' phenomenon, and they're filtered into modern times through parody, on such television shows as Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Thin Blue Line (though seen a typically unflattering modern lens). To Americans, Biggles is a bit like G.I. Joe; a character that everyone remembers, and a part of the childhood of a great many people, particularly of a certain age.
Biggles, initially a WWI fighter pilot, was created by actual fighter pilot, Captain William Earl Johns. Johns was very involved in the fighting during WWI. He fought in Gallipoli, was posted to Greece, and after a bit of malaria, was sent back to England, where he trained as a pilot. He returned to the fight for the rest of the war. It's pretty exciting stuff. Read more about him HERE. This is magnificent source experience for a pilot adventurer, wot? Being a huge John Buchan fan, with his exciting WWI tales of intrigue featuring spy/Adventurer Richard Hannay, Biggles is just my sort of thing.
Biggles, in a practical sense, is a bit of an immortal. Though he began his life during the first war, he went on to inter-war private adventures, then to fight in WWII, a stint in the foreign Legion, and on to the Special Air Police of Scotland Yard. He's one of the few characters that have fought the Kaiser, Hitler, and the cold war commies, while also taking on various international villains and despots. He's quite a chap. Bigglesworth doesn't only rule the skies, either. No villain is safe from his delivery of justice, no matter where they operate; jungles, deserts, and all manner of secret compound and mountain redoubt.
Like Buchan's Hannay, with his school chum/spy friend Sandy Arbuthnot, the American John Blenkiron, and MP Sir Edward Leithen, Biggles also had his own cadre of stiff-upper-lipped, square-jawed chums. He had the intrepid Ginger Hebblethwaite, his cousin Algy Lacey, boxer Tug Carrington, monocle-sporting pilot Lord Bertie and mechanic Sgt. Smyth. They are the companions of his adventurous life, saving him on many occasions. Each of these fellows embody all the good values, offering virtuous role models for children, mainly boys, to look up to and emulate.
It's unfortunate that this sort of honest, clean action has gone out of favour in this cynical, post-modern age. Populated by brave, moral characters, without a trace of irony, I believe that these kinds of books are sorely needed today. I was profoundly affected by old school adventure books; A. Conan Doyle's THE WHITE COMPANY, Jane Porter's THE SCOTTISH CHIEFS. J. Fenimore Cooper's LEATHERSTOCKING TALES, Johnston McCulley's Zorro novel, THE CURSE OF CAPISTRANO, and so forth. They informed my worldview in so many wonderful ways.
The good news is that the books are very much still available today, in both book and digital format. For a taste of these great stories, I've provided links to PDFs for your enjoyment.