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)

The Red Baron

Baron Manfred Von Richthofen scored 80 aerial victories during the war, and painted his airplanes red partly to frighten his enemies. The Red Baron was extremely superstitious—never flying without his lucky scarf and jacket—but finally was killed during aerial combat in 1918. Richthofen was given a dignified funeral by the allies (above) with full military honors.


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