Eugene Gilbert sans his mustache
|Born||19 July 1889
|Died||17 May 1918
|Awards||Legion d'Honneur, Medaille Militaire, Croix de Guerre|
Sous Lieutenant Eugène Gilbert (19 July 1889 – 17 May 1918) was a World War I flying ace credited with five aerial victories. He had also been a famous pioneer pre-war racing pilot, flying to many countries throughout Europe.
Gilbert was born in 1889 in Riom, France. He became interested in flight in his teens and actually built his own version of a flying machine around 1909. The machine appears to have been unsuccessful but Gilbert took on more conventional fixed-wing flying machines. By 1911, he was flying the famous Bleriot XI, a single-wing aircraft in which its designer had famously crossed the English Channel in 1909. In the 1911 Paris to Madrid air race, Gilbert flew across the Pyrenees Mountains and was attacked by an angry mother eagle defending her young and nest; to ward off the large bird, he simply fired pistol shots at her rather than kill her. On 24 April 1913, Gilbert made a record nonstop cross-country flight of 826 km (523 miles) from Villacoublay, France, to Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, in 8 hours 23 minutes.
By 1915, World War I was raging and Gilbert was in uniform as a combat pilot. Like fellow French pre-war pilot Adolphe Pegoud, Gilbert was one of the first pilots to become an ace, an aviator who has shot down five or more enemy planes. In April 1915, Gilbert was captured by the Germans after landing his Morane-Saulnier fighter plane behind enemy lines. He later made a daring escape from his captors which was later recounted by a friend.
Gilbert was killed on 17 May 1918 when test-piloting a new plane at Villacoublay.
- Sous Lieutenant Eugene Gilbert at The Aerodrome database
- Eugene Gilbert at EarlyAviators.com
- Daniel, Clifton, ed., Chronicle of the 20th Century, Mount Kisco, New York: Chronicle Publications, 1987, ISBN 0-942191-01-3, p. 171.
- Mike Spick The Illustrated Directory of Fighters - 2002 -Page 327 "It was adopted by pre-war French aerobatic pilot Eugène Gilbert as his personal mount, which he fitted with a fixed Hotchkiss machine gun and steel deflectors. Having named it Le Vengeur."
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