Luck and Death: WWI Pilots and their Superstitions

Cheating the Grim Reaper at the dawn of aerial combat.

In 1918 France, the 13th Aero Squadron painted a skeleton on the side of their SPAD, a stark reminder of their own mortality. (US Army)

Edwin Parsons and His Cat

Unable to find a lucky monkey in spite of a desperate visit to the Paris Zoo, Escadrille member Edwin Parsons settled instead for the talisman of a stuffed black cat, which he wired to the struts of his SPAD. Parsons would not fly without it, and claimed that after one dogfight, the cat actually took a bullet for him (he discovered it “bleeding” sawdust). After his plane was destroyed in a bombing raid, and the lucky stuffed cat along with it, Parsons refused to fly until he returned to Paris to find another one. This Austro-Hungarian crew settled for painting a black cat on their A.E.G. G.III


Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus