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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Earliest-born WW1 pilot?


Adrian Roberts

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This topic was inspired by the one on Churchill; I didn't want to hijack the thread.

So who was the earliest-born pilot to fly? Trenchard was born in 1873; Churchill in 1874. Lets say the earliest born pilot to fly in WW1 or later, so we can keep to the topic and ignore the early pioneers (Orville Wright was born in 1869). And stick to aeroplanes otherwise we would have to include Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, born 1838 which must be the record.

Adrian

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we would have to include Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, born 1838 which must be the record.

What about Joseph Mongolfiere (born 1740)?

Dave.

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Adrian

I think that Lt Gen Sir David Henderson KCB KCVO DSO, and General Officer Commanding the Royal Flying Corps, would have to be a finalist in the competition to find the oldest Great War pilot. He was born in 1862 and was 49 (and became the world's then oldest pilot) when he gained his wings in 1911.

However, although he obviously wasn't engaged in combat, did he actually fly an aeroplane during the War?

Regards

Gareth

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Possibly one of the oldest RFC pilots to achieve ace status was Henry Cope Evans, the Anglo-Canadian flyer with 24 Squadron. Born in the UK in 1879, he emigrated to Canada at an early age, served in the Canadian artillery in the Boer War, joined the CEF in 1914 and transferred to the RFC. Betwen 20 July and 9 August,1916 he had five victories and won a DSO before he was killed in action, age 37.

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Ace Friedrich Christiansen of the Seeflugstation Flandern I, born 12 December 1879 was certainly one of them...

Fregattenkapitän Peter Strasser the famous Zeppelin commander, born 1 April 1876...

Best from Johan

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Gareth

However, although he obviously wasn't engaged in combat, did he actually fly an aeroplane during the War?

Did any senior officers actually fly combat missions, or fly very much at all? The only example I can think of was an officer mentioned in a much earlier thread, who was a Brigadier-General at 32 and was killed. I can't remember his name or whether his death was in action or accidental; I'm sure you know who I mean!

In terms of ages, Major General Edward Ashmore RFC was born in 1872; Brig-Gen Sefton Brancker in 1877 and Brooke-Popham in 1878 - so assuming Ashmore actually learned to fly he may be the oldest.

Matty boy mentions Captain Baldwin of the US, born 1854 but it doesn't appear that he flew outside the USA.

I don't know about the French, Russians or Germans. I think the Italian poet Gabriel d'Annunzio was in his forties when he flew in action, but I can't find his exact date of birth.

Adrian

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Adrian

The Brigadier General you're referring to was Gordon Strachy Shephard DSO MC, (formerly Royal Fusiliers) of HQ I Brigade RFC. He was killed while flying Nieuport 24 B3610 on 19 January 1918 and is buried in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery.

Major General Edward Ashmore was Gazetted as a Flying Officer in the RFC with effect from 22 January 1913. I'm sure that he must have flown an aeroplane during the War in one of his appointments: OC 1st Wing RFC from 10 May 1915; BG No IV Bde from 30 January 1916; and GOC London Air Defence Area from 5 August 1917.

Tenente Colonnelo Gabriele d'Annunzio was born on 12 March 1863.

However, if Lt Gen Sir David Henderson flew an aeroplane during the War, I think he's the oldest we've discovered so far.

Best wishes

Gareth

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Frenchman Jacques Balsan flew during ww1 and was born on 16th September 1867.

I expect he is one of the oldest pilots during the war.

Matt.

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Frenchman Jacques Balsan flew during ww1 and was born on 16th September 1867.

I expect he is one of the oldest pilots during the war.

Matt.

How about Gabriele D'Annunzio of italy? He was born in 1863. In WWI he served as a 53 year old cavalry officer, and then transferred to aviation. He had a distinguised aviation career during World War I. Doc2

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  • 1 month later...
Gareth

Did any senior officers actually fly combat missions, or fly very much at all? The only example I can think of was an officer mentioned in a much earlier thread, who was a Brigadier-General at 32 and was killed. I can't remember his name or whether his death was in action or accidental; I'm sure you know who I mean!

In terms of ages, Major General Edward Ashmore RFC was born in 1872; Brig-Gen Sefton Brancker in 1877 and Brooke-Popham in 1878 - so assuming Ashmore actually learned to fly he may be the oldest.

Matty boy mentions Captain Baldwin of the US, born 1854 but it doesn't appear that he flew outside the USA.

I don't know about the French, Russians or Germans. I think the Italian poet Gabriel d'Annunzio was in his forties when he flew in action, but I can't find his exact date of birth.

Adrian

The most senior Officer must be HRH King Albert I of the Belgians and supreme commander of the Belgian Armed Forces who flew regularly and at least once over the front lines near the Yser.

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Alexander

The most senior Officer must be HRH King Albert I of the Belgians and supreme commander of the Belgian Armed Forces who flew regularly and at least once over the front lines near the Yser.

Very interesting, thanks for that. Did he definitely fly as a pilot, rather than in the observer's seat?

Adrian

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Alexander

Very interesting, thanks for that. Did he definitely fly as a pilot, rather than in the observer's seat?

Adrian

He flew solely as a observer, he flew for instance on the 6th of july 1917 in a new Sopwith piloted by SubLieutenant Jacques de Meeus over Ypres and Nieuport.

He was also known to inspect the trenches regularly even the 1st line trenches, on at least one occasion, his party of Officers was noticed by the Germans and fired upon with Artillery, luckily without effect !

His visits were great moral boosters for the troops, I do know that some of the Allies were not always pleased with King Albert, but his leadership and carefull handling of his troops and his visits made him popular beyond believe and certainly helped stave off troubles, such as mutinies when events were at its worst.

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How about Karl Menckhoff born 1883 ??

PFF

Menckhoff was certainly ancient for a fighter pilot but not as old as the generals (and Annunzio) we've mentioned above.

theaerodrome.com lists aces in order of date of birth. Of those that they know the dob of, the oldest is Adolphe duBois D’Aische, born 1874. But of the high scorers, the oldest seems to be Erwin Boehme, born 1879 and unfortunately best-known for his collision with Bolcke. Frederick Christenson, the MarineJagdFlieger ace, was born later that year, so both older than Menckhoff.

Adrian

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