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.
Who can ID the push-prop plane and WAG the year? We can add this to the World War I Autochrome shots posted last year. This photo is thanks to SandboxWorld and come from the huge collection amassed -- for the permanent record of history -- by visionary French-Jewish capitalist Albert Kahn. He collected some 70,000 Auto- chrome plates and hundreds of thousands of feet of vintage B film
ROYAL NAVAL AIR SERVICE RNAS 1914-1918 (Q 27453) A Short 320 seaplane dropping an 18-inch torpedo. Developed to take on U-boats in the Mediterranean, the aircraft type saw little success. Operations were also flown in the Adriatic.
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.
A common practice of the time, pilots who were shot down by the Allies (or the Germans) in World War I were usually given a full military funeral by their enemy, especially if they were of noble blood. In this photograph, Squadron 3 of the Australian Flying Corps, give a final salute to the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. He was buried with full military honors by the Allies after being shot down in a dogfight.