The History Place - World War I

French national hero, Fighter Ace Georges Guynemer--rejected five times by medical inspectors, he nevertheless volunteered for the French Army, then joined the Aviation Corps although he had never been in a plane. He became an Ace at age 21 in February 1916 upon shooting down his fifth German plane, then shot down an additional 48 planes through September 1917. On his last flight he attacked five German planes but was then surrounded by up to 40 German planes diving at him from a high altitude, including the Red Baron and his entire squadron. Below: A view of Guynemer seated in his single seat biplane. Captain Guynemer had turned down repeated offers from the French government to lend his talents to aviation administration, preferring combat flying instead. Newspaper reports of his aerial victories helped to raise the spirit of the French people during a time of bloody stalemate on the ground all along the Western Front.

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