Oliver Colin LeBoutillier

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Oliver Colin LeBoutillier
Oliver Colin LeBoutillier (4729164206).jpg
Oliver Colin LeBoutillier, 1918
Born24 May 1894
Montclair, New Jersey, USA
Died12 May 1983(1983-05-12) (aged 88)
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Allegiance United States
Service/branchRoyal Naval Air Service (United Kingdom)
Royal Air Force (United Kingdom)
Years of service1916 - 1918
UnitRoyal Air Force
Battles/warsWorld War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War I
Other workSkywriter, stunt flyer, air racer, instructor, member of Civil Aeronautics Corporation

Captain Oliver Colin LeBoutillier (24 May 1894 – 12 May 1983) was a World War I aviator who witnessed the death of Manfred von Richthofen. He was a vigorous proponent of Captain Roy Brown as the victor over Richthofen.[1][2]

Post World War I, he became a stunt pilot for movies, a skywriter, and an aviation instructor whose most famous student was Amelia Earhart. Later, he became a civil aviation inspector.


He was born on 24 May 1894 to an English father and Canadian mother in Montclair, New Jersey.[3]

World War I[edit]

He trained at the Wright Brothers Flying School in Mineola, New York. He then crossed into Canada and joined the Royal Naval Air Service on 21 August 1916. By April 1917, he had joined the No. 9 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service as a sub-lieutenant to pilot a Sopwith Triplane. Between 25 May and 29 July 1917, he scored four victories by driving enemy planes down out of control.[3]

On 1 April 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps were combined into the Royal Air Force and 9 Naval became No. 209 Squadron RAF.[4]

During a squadron dogfight on 21 April 1918 in the Somme River valley, LeBoutillier, Robert Foster, and Merrill Samuel Taylor shot down an Albatros two-seater[3] and sparked a running dogfight during which Captain Roy Brown claimed to have downed Manfred von Richthofen. LeBoutillier claimed to have witnessed Brown's tracer bullets penetrating Richthofen's cockpit. Immediately after its crash, LeBoutillier flew over the triplane of von Richthofen.[1][2][5]

He finished the war with ten aerial victories; one shared aircraft captured, three destroyed (including two shared), and six 'out of control' (one of which was shared). He had over 600 hours flying time in his log book by the end of the war.[6]

Upon his return to the United States, LeBoutillier became a skywriter, and later an official of the Skywriting Corporation of America. He also became a barnstormer and piloted aircraft for eighteen movies, including: Hell's Angels and Wings. As a flight instructor, he gave Amelia Earhart her first lesson in a twin-engined aircraft. He became a Civil Aviation Authority inspector in charge of Colorado and Wyoming.


He died on 12 May 1983 in Las Vegas, Nevada.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b (Fresno Bee, 13 July 1973) Retrieved on 9 April 2010.
  2. ^ a b (Las Vegas News Journal", 25 October 1970) Retrieved on 9 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Oliver Colin LeBoutillier". theaerodrome.com. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  4. ^ American Aces of World War 1. p. 29.
  5. ^ Associated Press (November 30, 1970). "Pilot Recalls End of 'Red Baron'". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2012-12-11. Oliver Colin LeBoutillier, believed to be the only living survivor of the World War I dogfight that killed famous German ace "Red" Baron Manfried von ...
  6. ^ a b American Aces of World War 1. p. 30.


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