Georges Guynemer 1894 - 1917 was a top fighter ace for France during World War I, and a French national hero at the time of his death.
Guynemer failed to return from a combat mission on 11 September 1917. The previous week had been one of mechanical ills, in both his assigned aircraft and the ones he borrowed. At 08:30, with rookie pilot Jean Bozon-Verduraz, Guynemer took off in his Spad XIII S.504 n°2. His mission was to patrol the Langemark area. At 09:25, near Poelkapelle, Guynemer sighted a lone Rumpler, a German observation plane, and dived toward it. Bozon-Verduraz saw several Fokkers above him, and by the time he had shaken them off, his leader was nowhere in sight, so he returned alone. Guynemer never came back.
Neither the wreckage of his airplane, his body, nor his personal effects were ever found, but the Germans announced that he had been shot down by Lt. Kurt Wissemann of Jasta 3, who in turn was killed in action 17 days later. French schoolchildren of the time were taught that Guynemer had flown so high, he couldn't come back down again. At the time of his death, he had tallied 53 victories. In all, he survived being shot down seven times, despite not having a parachute. It is not clear if he was killed in the crash of his plane or if he survived, only to be shot on the ground in no-man's land. Some speculate that his aircraft may have been blown apart by artillery shells.
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