Scottish-born John MacGilchrist studied architectural drawing, and in 1913 traveled to the United States to complete his degree in architecture at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. MacGilchrist was a prominent American aviation artist who fought in World War I as a Balloon Observer for the British Royal Air Corp. He survived over 200 hours of combat and chronicled images of war.
After the war, MacGilchrist returned to the United States to pursue his chosen profession as an architect in Philadelphia and New York. In 1926, though, he left architecture, to follow his yearnings, and returned to his romance with airplanes. After falling into obscurity during the Great Depression his career ended and his work was only re-discovered after his death.