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Manfred von Richthofen remains one of the greatest legends of aviation Born in a part of Germany that is now Poland Richthofen was the son of an aristocratic Prussian family A far better athlete than scholar he wanted to become a calvary officer but the changing nature of war had eliminated the need for calvary so he turned to the new calvary aviation When World War I began Richthofen joined the Fliegertruppe as an observer in order to get into combat more quickly After just 24 hours of flight training he made his first solo flight He crashed trying to land By 1916 he was a combat pilot and scored his first confirmed victory on September 17 On November 23 of the same year he shot down the British ace Major Lanoe Hawker his eleventh kill On January 4 1917 Richthofen shot down his 16th plane making him the top living German ace at the time He recieved the Orden Pour le Mrite aka the Blue Max one of Germanys highest honors Given command of Jasta 11 he began to paint his aircraft red so that he could be easily identified However it was also said he did this because of the color of his
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