Georges Guynemer was born on December 24, 1894 in Paris (16th District) and killed in action on September 11, 1917 near Poelkapelle (Belgium). Hewas the most famous French fighter pilots of the First World War, even not being the highest scorer (that was René Fonck with 75 victories, second to the Red Baron).
Captain Guynemer achieved 53 confirmed victories, and 30 more unconfirmed in dogfights, flying different aircraft models: Morane-Saulnier, Nieuport, SPAD VII, SPAD XII and SPAD XIII. He survived eight times the shotdown of his aircraft during his career until his death. He was assigned to the No.3 squadron, nicknamed "Escadrille des Cigognes", the most successful fighter unit of the French Aviation during the war. His aircrafts were painted in yellow and nicknamed "Vieux Charles".
On his mother’s side, Julie Noémi Doynel Saint-Quentin, Georges Guynemer was a descendant of the Kings of France Louis XIII and Louis XIV. On the father's side, Paul Guynemer, a former Saint-Cyr officer, he belonged to a family that had been involved in all the wars of France for centuries. Baptized on October 27, 1895, the young Georges Guynemer had poor health, being very thin and frail.
When the war started in 1914 the Guynemers were on vacation in Anglet (French Basque Country), so Georges went quickly to Bayonne to enlist. However, military doctors declare him unfit. Desperate, he begged his father to use his contacts in the Army, but he was unsuccessful. Eventually, one morning he watched several military aircrafts landing at the Anglet beach airfield, so he asked one of the pilots how to enlist in aviation. After going to the pilot school in Pau he was accepted as a mechanic's apprentice, where he deepened his knowledge of airplanes. He wanted to become a pilot, but ground personnel were not allowed to fly.
His Captain finally agrees to instruct him. On February 1 he flies for the first time in a Blériot 10. On March 11, he flies solo. On June 8, he was sent to No.3 Squadron, the only one he served until his disappearance. He recovered a Morane-Saulnier Type L, baptized as "Vieux Charles" that had belonged to Charles Bonnard, and was assigned to fight in Serbia.
In June 1915, he was promoted to Sergeant and decorated with the Croix de Guerre. He started flying in missions of troop observation and at the service of the artillery. On July 19, Guynemer achieves his first victory by shooting down an Aviatik.
Shortly after with the Nieuport 10, Guynemer quickly became one of the best French pilots. President Poincaré decorated him the Knight's Cross of the Legion d’Honneur on December 24. He became an "Ace" by achieving his fifth victory on February 3, 1916.
In March he starts flying over the Verdun battlefront commanded by De Rose. He then flew over the Somme from June 1916 until February 1917. With his SPAD VII, Guynemer became the first Allied pilot to shoot down a German heavy bomber Gotha G.III. In May 1917 he shot down seven German aircrafts. On May 25, 1917, in a single day he shot down four enemies: he was for that reason promoted to Officer of the Legion d’Honneur. In July, he flew a SPAD XII, his favorite plane with a 200-hp Hispano-Suiza engine and a 37-mm Hotchkiss gun, along with a 7.7-mm Vickers 303 machine gun. With it he shot down an Albatros on July 27 over Westroosebeke, and a DFW the next day, so he achieved 50 confirmed victories.
In late July 1917 Guynemer commanded the Escadrille des Cigognes. On September 11, 1917, he did not return from a combat mission. Near Poelkapelle, Guynemer saw a German Rumpler observation aircraft and headed towards it. His squadmate Bozon-Verduraz saw a group of Fokkers in turn above him, and shortly after dispersing them, he no longer saw Guynemer. He returned alone to his airfield.
The remains of his plane and his body were not found, but the Germans claimed that he was shot down by Lieutenant Kurt Wissemann of Jasta 3, shot down in turn two weeks later.
On September 25, 1917, he was officially reported missing in action by the Ministry of War. Shortly after, a captured German pilot said he was at the scene of the wrekage and said that the British artillery shots destroyed the remains of Guynemer and his aircraft before they could pick him up and bury.
There was a wide devastation in France for his disappearance, and the teachers started teaching the French schoolchildren of the time that "Guynemer had flown so high that he could not go back down."