In 1856 businessman and aeronautics enthusiast Matías Pérez took flight in a hot air balloon at sunset in Cuba, and was never seen again. This incident originated the Cuban phrase, “Voló como Matías Pérez,” (flew away like Matías Pérez) to refer to someone vanishing into thin air.
Owen J. Baggett became legendary as the only person to down a Japanese aircraft with a M1911 pistol hitting the pilot in the head while he was parachuting.
In 1953, a North Korean fighter pilot defected to South Korea with his MiG-15 and was rewarded $100,000 from the United States.
A WW2 observation pilot got bored of not being in combat and decided to strap 6 bazooka’s to his plane destroying several tanks and armored vehicles.
In 1916, Manfred von Richthofen was considered a below average pilot who crashed during his first flight. Despite this poor start, he rapidly became attuned to his aircraft. Upon his death two years, and 80 aerial kills later, the British buried The Red Baron with full military honors out of respect for his skill as an aviator.
The world’s first licensed armless pilot is also the first armless black-belt.
In the UK (43%), Denmark (50%), Norway (53%) and Sweden (54%) the surveyed pilots reported falling asleep involuntarily in the cockpit while flying. In the UK, a third of the pilots said to have woken up finding their colleague sleeping as well.
An officer of the US Navy, James Stockdale, became a POW. To prevent his captors from using him as propaganda, he cut his scalp with razors, beat his face with a stool until he was unrecognizable, and slit his wrists.
In WWII a woman-only Soviet bomber regiment were nicknamed the “Night Witches” by German soldiers. For a successful bombing run, the Witches would cut the engine of their archaic and noisy aircraft. Gliding in, they would release their bombs before the enemy even knew they were there.