This day in history (April 29, 1918): Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, the leading US ace of WWI, shot down his first airplane. Fast Eddie's first love was fast cars, and only made the switch from racing to aviation after repairing a car carrying Col Billy Mitchell. Rickenbacker downed 26 enemy aircraft in the European Theatre and was named Commander of the 94th "Hat in the Ring" Squadron. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover.
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Helen Richey was Amelia Earhart's copilot on one flight across the Atlantic. She became the first woman hired to be a pilot by a commercial airline in the US. She was the first woman licensed as an aviation instructor. She was the first woman to fly a scheduled mail flight. During WWII she commanded a group of women pilots for the British Air Transport Auxiliary, flying bombs between factories and airbases. She died by suicide at age 38
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), also widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during World War I. He is considered the top ace of that war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories. By 1918, he was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and was very well known by the other side. Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens on 21 April 1918.
Maggiore Francesco Baracca - Spad S.VII by Ivan Berryman. Credited with an impressive 34 victories, Francesco Baracca was Italys highest scoring ace in WW1 and is shown here in his distinctive Spad S.VII which carried his personal emblem, the Prancing Horse, that paid homage to his cavalry days. Upon his death in this aircraft on 19th June 1918, Baraccas mother donated the emblem to Enzo Ferrari whose cars still carry this badge the world over.