Special Sub-Topic: Fighter Pilots & Planes: Eddie Rickenbacker
|Eddie Rickenbacker was born to German speaking, Swiss immigrants. The family name was originally spelled with an "H" as Rickenbacher. Why did Eddie change the spelling of his name during the early years of World War I?
He wanted his last name to appear less German,. Because of extensive anti-German sentiment in the US, Rickenbacker changed the spelling of his last name to "take the Hun out of his name."
|What was Eddie Rickenbacker's profession prior to World War I?|
Racecar driver. Eddie had raced in the Indianapolis 500 four times. He finished only once in tenth place. He was also an accomplished mechanic and noted automobile designer.
|Sergeant First Class Rickenbacker arrived in France in June, 1917 after the US declared war on Germany. He was assigned the position of engineering officer for a flight training unit. How did he eventually get his flying assignment?
He taught himself to fly in his spare time and found his own ground replacement. Although he had learned to fly in his spare time, because there was such a shortage of personnel in his ground job, Rickenbacker's superiors tried to prevent him from obtaining a flying position. Once he was able to find a replacement for himself he was given a flying assignment.
|Which combat flying squadron was Rickenbacker first assigned to?|
94th Aero Squadron. The famous "Hat in the Ring" 94th Aero Squadron was first activated at Kelly Field, Texas on 20 August, 1917. Rickenbacker would eventually become the unit commander. Today the 94th Fighter Squadron flies the F-22 Raptor at Langley AFB, Virginia.
|What was the first fighter aircraft that Eddie flew and achieved his first aerial victory?|
Nieuport 28. Rickenbacker got his first kill on 29 April 1917 in the Nieuport 28 which was flown initially by all of the new American fighter units. Because of the Nieuport's wing design problems and unreliable engine, they would all transition to the SPAD by the summer of 1918.
|Rickenbacker completed World War I as America's top ace. How many aerial victories did he accumulate by the end of the war?
26. Eddie Rickenbacker's victory total was 26 confirmed kills and became the top US ace until WW II. He flew 300 combat missions during WW I, believed to be the most of any US pilot. Rickenbacker would receive a belated Medal of Honor in 1931.
|After the war, what activity did Rickenbacker become involved with because of his previous racing experience? |
He started an automobile company and bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.. Although his automobile company eventually failed his designs included the first four-wheel brake system. He bought the Indianapolis Speedway in 1927 and managed the track until closing it during the WWII years. He sold the Speedway in 1945.
|What airline was Rickenbacker instrumental in developing and leading through out his life?|
Eastern. Rickenbacker combined Eastern Air Transport and Florida Airways to form Eastern Air Lines and grew it into one of the major international air lines of the world.
|What incident was Eddie Rickenbacker involved with during World War II that drew international interest and worldwide intrigue?
He was lost at sea in the Pacific for over three weeks.. In 1942, on a tour of the Pacific as a government consultant, Rickenbacker's B-17's navigation system malfunctioned and had to ditch in the ocean, hundreds of miles off course. With only 3 days of food, the crew, his friends and Rickenbacker survived on occasional rain water and killing a seagull used for food and bait for fishing. They were rescued after 24 days.
|Where did Eddie Rickenbacker die in 1973 from a stroke? |
Zurich. While in Zurich, Switzerland for a medical consultation for his wife, Eddie Rickenbacker suffered a stroke and died 23 July 1973. He was buried in the city of his birth, Columbus, Ohio.
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