Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

Edward Vernon “Eddie” Rickenbacker (* 8. October 1890 in Columbus, Ohio; † 27. July 1973 in Zurich) was an American flier ASS during the First World War. With 26 air victories he was a most successful combat pilot of the USA.

Capt. Edward Rickenbacker, while its return on board the Adriatic, 1919

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life before the time as a combat flier

after Eddies father, William, in the year 1904 in a building site accident had died, left the boy the school, in order to support its family. In consequence its it looked for itself several technology-oriented fields of work, last as a garage mechanic.

Starting from 1910 Rickenbacker appeared then as test and later than running drivers. After several driving records - it reached among other things a maximum speed record of 214 km/h - it decided to go to England in order to participate on in the year 1917 the running season beginning.

After the war entrance of the USA it announced itself to US military, where it was active as drivers. Rickenbacker is to have been even the personal Chauffeur of the American Oberkommandieren general John Pershing.

To 26. June 1917 it arrived at France, where it was possible it to take flying hours. Due to its interest in the Fliegerei one divided it to 4. March 1918 that 94. American fighter wings under the command of Gervais Raoul Lufbery too.

combat pilot

Eddie Rickenbacker vor einer Nieuport 28
Eddie Rickenbacker before a Nieuport 28

to 20. April succeeded to it its first firing, a SPAD S.XIII. Rickenbacker was on this day with its colleague James resounds in the sky over Baussant on the way. As it the hostile machine it erspähten, went resound to the attack over on which the German turned off. Rickenbacker, which had seen this, attacked its opponent and shot it short hand.

Few time shot later Rickenbacker a further enemy machine of the fighter squadron 64, and to at the end of of May it could book altogether 5 air victories for itself. But one lent the French Croix de Guerre to it.

When the Americans needed increasingly experienced combat pilots, Rickenbacker in the summer at an ear inflammation got sick and one had to treat him for longer time. When it was again operational in September, it transformed to one of the most dangerous opponents of the Germans. Due to its successes and abilities as a guidance person one appointed him even the commander 94. Fighter wing.

With its altogether 26 firings, under it 4 Fesselballons, which it up to 30. October obtained, been promoted Rickenbacker to the best American combat pilot of the First World War. In the year 1931 one later lent the honour medal to it. Rickenbacker received the honor due to two air victories from 25. September 1918, after it had attacked altogether 7 enemy machines.

Rickenbacker an automobile company, which

brought progressive cars out, created post-war period and the Second World War after the war however than unprofitable proved later. he bought the Indianapolis engine Speedway, which was operated up to its 4-jährigen locking during the Second World War by Rickenbacker to 1927. After it was not possible it to reorganize the racing course it sold it in the year 1947.

1922 he had already married Adelaide frost. With their Rickenbacker had later two children, David and William.

Starting from 1942 it visited several military air exercise areas in the south of the USA and in England. In October one sent it into the Pacific. During a flight with a B-17 the machine got off the course and Rickenbacker and its crew was forced to ditch. When them after 3 days the food went out, they had to nourish themselves of birds and caught fish. Only after 24 days, to 13. November, they could be saved on open ocean.

life after the Second World War

1938 had become already Rickenbacker president Eastern Airlines, an airline, which developed after the Second World War to a very successful enterprise.

When the economic situation of Eastern Airlines worsened in the 50's, Rickenbacker the post of the managing director at the 1 had. October 1959 transfers. After it was active still some time in the leadership level, it left the enterprise to 31. December 1963. 10 years later it died in Zurich. It in honours the air Force basis of its place of residence in Rickenbacker air Force cousin was renamed.


  • James C. Whittaker: It was as if the angels would sing. Experience report of the ditching, ISBN 3-579-03451-0


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