Gervais Raoul Lufbery

Leigh Gray and
Kathyrn Mullins
Newnan High School
Newnan, Georgia USA
Teacher: Stephen Quesinberry
Adv. World History, 10th grade

General Information

  • Born in France in 1886 of an American father and a French mother, who died when he was one year old.
  • At 19 he waited tables on ships and traveled around the world.
  • He enlisted in the U.S. army as a means of becoming a U.S. citizen.
  • Met Marc Poupes, a famous exhibition pilot and became his personal mechanic, following him into the French Air Service.
  • After many failures, Lufbery became a fighter pilot during World War I with the Lafayette Escadrille.
  • He was the first of the flyers in the Escadrille to become an ace, and had 17 victories to his credit at the time of his death.
  • Taught many Americans how to fly after the United States joined the war, including Douglas Campbell, Reed Chambers and Eddie Rickenbacker.
  • Died when he jumped from his burning Nieuport and landed on a picket fence, May 19, 1918.

"There won't be any after-the-war for a fighter pilot."

"Theres a hell of a lot of difference in going out alone, no matter what the odds are against you, and in going out as a member or a leader of a group of pilots who may or may not be as good as you are. It is a great responsibility to shepard these pilots out and get back home safe. I prefer to fight alone, on my own."
Lufbery to Rickenbacker, in a discussion on tactics.

"The crass stupidity of certain American brass hats failed to recognize his value as a fine fighter."
Edwin C. Parsons, commenting on his relegation to a desk as the Lafayette Escadrille was absorbed into the U.S. Air Service.

"We silently faced the realization that America's greatest aviator and ace of aces had been laid away to rest."
Rickenbacker, after Lufbery's death.