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.
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
The first Victoria Cross awarded to an Australian flyer for valour in the presence of the enemy was won by Lieutenant Frank McNamara of Number 1 squadron on March 20th, 1917. Following a raid on a train line, despite being wounded himself, McNamara landed and rescued a downed pilot from the raid whilst under enemy fire behind Turkish lines. Interestingly despite heavy involvement in combat over enemy lines, he was the only AFC pilot to be awarded a VC in World War One.
Breguet 14 of the American 96th Aero Squadron. The squadron was assigned as a Day Bombardment Squadron, performing long-range bombing attacks on roads and railroads; destruction of materiel and massed troop formations behind enemy lines. It also performed strategic reconnaissance over enemy controlled territory, and tactical bombing attacks on enemy forces in support of Army offensive operations.
Lady Heath, born Sophie Pierce Evans in Limerick. For a five-year period from the mid-1920s, pilot Lady Mary Heath was one of the best-known women in the world. It was an era when everyone had gone aviation mad, she was the first woman to parachute and the first woman to gain a commercial pilot’s licence. In 1928 Lady Heath made front-page news worldwide as the first pilot ever, male or female, to fly a small, open cockpit plane solo from Cape Town
Glenn Hammond Curtiss (May 21, 1878 – July 23, 1930) was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle then motorcycle builder and racer, later also manufacturing engines for airships as early as 1906. In 1908 Curtiss joined the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), a pioneering research group founded by Alexander Graham Bell at Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia to build flying machines.
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.