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Roland Garros
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Aviator
    (October 6, 1888-October 5, 1918)
    Born in Saint-Denis, Reunion
    Set an altitude record of 17,000 feet (1912)
    Made the first non-stop flight across the Mediterranean Sea (1913)
    Shot down four German aircraft during World War I
    Forced down behind German lines by ground fire (April 18, 1915)
    Was shot down and killed over Vouziers in the Ardennes
    Namesake for the stadium where tennis' French Open is played
    He planned on becoming a concert pianist until he witnessed an air show in Rouen (1909).
    Ironically, he was teaching military aviation in Germany when WWI started.
    Early in the War, he was falsely reported to have died after ramming a zeppelin with his plane.
    He was often erroneously credited as the first fighter ace, but he had only four confirmed victories. (Traditionally, ace status required five.)
    When WWI started, he escaped from Germany via a nighttime flight to Switzerland.
    After installing metal deflector plates on his propellor, he became the first fighter pilot to shoot down an aircraft by firing forward through his own propellor (April 1, 1915).
    He escaped from a German POW camp (February 14, 1918) and rejoined the French army.

Credit: C. Fishel


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