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Rene Fonck
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Military Personnel
    (March 27, 1894-June 18, 1953)
    Born in Saulcy-sur-Meurthe, France
    French aviator and Colonel
    Top Allied fighter ace by the end of WWI
    Received confirmation for 75 victories (72 solo and three shared) out of 142 claims
    Made an Officer of the Legion of Honor, and later Commander of the Legion of Honor (1918)
    The first Aviator to take up Raymond Orteig's challenge offering a $25,000 prize to the first aviator to fly across the Atlantic non-stop from New York to Paris (1925)
    His last name can be mispronounced as 'funk' or a word slightly more profane...
    He convinced Igor Sikorsky to provide him with an S-35 Triple Engine Plane to fly across the Atlantic and then insisted on having he plane's interior 'beautified' with Spanish leather and mahogany walls.
    He also insisted on loading the plane with souvenirs and gifts from well-wishers prior to takeoff, weighing the plane down even further (it is believed that a tin of freshly baked croissants given to him just minutes before the flight may have been the straw that broke the camel's back).
    He proceeded to ignore warnings that the plane was 10,00 pounds over its recommended maximum takeoff weight and to ignore the advice that the plane be stress-tested.
    The plane subsequently crashed in a gully at the end of a field, collapsing under the excess weight during takeoff and bursting into flames.
    Although he and his navigator survived, the plane's mechanic and radio operator were killed. Fonck's popularity was not enhanced by the fact that he showed little concern for their deaths and defensively insisted that the accident was in no way his fault, claiming it was 'the fortune of the air.'
    His arrogance annoyed the press enough for them to eventually abandon him. He lived out his final years in Paris and in relative obscurity.
    His biographer described him as 'a dreadful show-off, intolerable, always bragging, egotistical, ham-like, a poseur, gaudy, loud, hard to take, expressionless at times, morose, deliberately cruel, over-neat,' and 'tightly tailored.'
    His own best friend said of him 'he is not a truthful man. He is a tiresome braggart... he can't forget how he rescued you, nor let you forget it. He can almost make you wish he hadn't helped you in the first place' (hate to know what his enemies said about him).
    He took three people on his ill-fated transatlantic flight, but he was quoted as saying 'I prefer to fly alone... when alone, I perform those little coups of audacity which amuse me' (whatever...)
    He was a narcissist whose ego got the better of him and is now overshadowed by the sheepish St. Louis airmail pilot who actually won the Orteig Prize.
    He holds the title of 'all-time Allied Ace of Aces,' with a record 75 victory claims.
    It is believed that taking into account probable claims, his final tally could conceivably be over 100 victory claims during WWI.
    He was imitated by Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoons.
    He was imprisoned in Drancy Internment Camp after he refused to meet with Adolf Hitler while he was in Vichy France.
    He was later accused of collaborating with the Nazis, but a detailed investigation proved beyond doubt that he not only had not abetted the Nazis, but had been a supporter of the French Resistance.
    He was awarded the Certificate of Resistance for 'taking part in glorious fights for the liberation of the nation' (1948)
    Along with receiving France's highest honors, he was also awarded the British Military Cross and the British Distinguished Conduct Medal.
    Considering the actual Orteig winner's shoddy track record in assessing the Nazis' character, to say the least, historians probably aren't in the best position to judge 'Captain Fonck.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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