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Saturday, 25 February 2017



While test piloting a new French-built Wright biplane on September 7, 1909, Eugene Lefebvre crashed at Juvisy, France when his controls jammed. Lefebvre died, becoming the first pilot in the world to lose his life in a powered heavier-than-air craft.

Eugène Lefebvre in 1909

John Moore-Brabazon learned to fly in 1908 in France in a Voisin biplane. He became the first resident Englishman to make an officially recognized aeroplane flight in England on May 2, 1909, at Shellbeach on the Isle of Sheppey with flights of 450 ft, 600 ft, and 1500 ft.

On March 8, 1910, Moore-Brabazon became the first person to qualify as a pilot in the United Kingdom and was awarded Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate number 1; his car also bore the number-plate FLY 1.

Only four months later, his friend Charles Rolls was killed in a flying accident and Moore-Brabazon's wife persuaded him to give up flying.

John Moore-Brabazon in his Voisin Bird of Passage in 1909

French aviatrix Baroness Raymonde de Laroche was the first woman to receive a pilot's license. She received ticket No. 36 on March 8, 1910.

In 1911, Harriet Quimby earned the first US pilot's license issued to a woman. A magazine writer, she got ticket No. 37, making her the second licensed female pilot in the world.

Less than a year later, Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. She flew from Dover, England and landed at Hardelot, France, in a Blériot monoplane on April 16, 1912. Her accomplishment received little media attention, however, as the sinking of the RMS Titanic the day before consumed the interest of the public and filled newspapers.

Harriet Quimby

Quimby continued piloting aircraft until she was killed in a flying accident over Dorchester Bay during a Harvard-Boston aviation meet on July 1, 1912. She was tossed from her airplane after it unexpectedly pitched forward.

The first pilots recruited by the British military in 1911, the Air Battalion Royal Engineers (which evolved into the RAF), had to weigh a maximum of 161 lb (11st 7lb), be under 30, a good sailor and map reader — and already have earned a Royal Aero Club certificate from a private flying school.

During World War I German fighter pilot Kurt Wintgens became the first person to shoot down another plane in aerial combat in 1915.

The Victoria Cross medal awarded to legendary World War I fighter pilot Major Edward Mannock, was auctioned, along with his Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order, for £132,000 in 1992. Mannock, who notched up 73 kills, was awarded more medals for bravery than any other World War I pilot — in spite of less than perfect eyesight.

Manfred von Richthofen, or the Red Baron — the ‘ace of aces’ World War I German fighter pilot credited with 80 Allied kills — was shot during an air battle over the Somme in northern France by a bullet fired from the ground on April 21, 1918. He managed to land his trademark red triplane, but died of the single wound. Von Richthofen's last word, to an Australian sergeant on the battlefield, was: "Kaputt."

Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron.

After he was shot down and killed, the Red Baron was given full military honors by the Allies, including a proper burial near Amiens.

Amy Johnson was a pioneering English aviator, who flying solo or with her husband, Jim Mollison, set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s. This included becoming the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia.  Flying G-AAAH, the first of two aircraft she named "Jason", she left Croydon in South East England, on May 5, 1930 and crash landed in Darwin, Northern Territory, on May 24, 1930 after flying 11,000 miles (18,000 km).

Tom Dobney had just turned 15 when, flying solo in a Tiger Moth in 1941, he became the youngest RAF pilot in World War II. Dared by a fellow pupil at Nuneaton Grammar, he’d falsified his birth certificate to enlist. Dobney was discharged when his parents found out, but joined up again when he turned 18.

Germany’s top fighter ace of World War II was Erich Hartmann, nicknamed "The Black Devil", who shot down 352 allied aircraft, almost all Russian. He crash-landed his aircraft 14 times. After the war Hartmann spent ten years in a Russian prison before being freed.

Erich Hartmann

24-year-old Chuck Yeager was a veteran Second World War pilot who in 1947, became the first person to break the sound barrier when he piloted the Bell X-1 rocket research aircraft to a level-flight speed of 670 mph.

Long before creating Star Trek, 26-year-old Gene Roddenberry was a co-pilot aboard a Pan Am plane in 1947 that crashed in the Syrian Desert. With several broken ribs, he helped save 22 people and eventually led them to safety.

Emily Howell Warner was the first female commercial airline pilot in the US. On February 6, 1973, Howell Warner served for the first time as second officer on a Frontier Airlines Boeing 737. The flight departed from Denver's Stapleton Airport for Las Vegas.

This marked an opening for American women in one of the last sex-segregated occupations in the civilian aviation industry. When Howell Warner was hired there were no other women working as pilots for the major commercial airlines. By 1978, there were about 300 female commercial pilots in the United States.

In 1976 Howell Warner was the first woman to become a US airline captain.

The Dutch king King Willem-Alexander secretly piloted KLM’s fleet of commercial Fokker 70 planes as a "relaxing hobby" for 21 years before "retiring" in 2017.


The actor Morgan Freeman turned down a drama scholarship because he dreamed of being an Air Force fighter pilot. He spent four years as a tracking radar repairman. At age 65, he finally earned his private pilot license.

Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor's brother is a pilot in the RAF, and his callsign is "Obi-Two."

English is the universal "language of the skies". All pilots must learn and speak English, regardless of their origin.

There is an FAA regulation called the 'Sterile Cockpit Rule', requiring flight crews to only discuss topics related to the flight below 10,000 feet.

In Saudi Arabia women are allowed to fly aircraft, though they must be chauffeured to the airport because it's illegal for them to drive a car.

Around 56 per cent of British airline pilots admit to having fallen asleep on the job, and 29 per cent say they've woken up to find their co-pilot asleep.

Most pilots aren't allowed to have a beard because of the shape of an oxygen mask.

Most airlines have a rule stating that pilots and copilots cannot eat the same meal to avoid food poisoning.

Source Daily Mail

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