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Frank Luke, Jr.


If Rickenbacker and Lufbery knew the value of discipline and planning during World War I, Frank Luke was the opposite. Luke had been described as "an undisciplined, carefree maverick,...absolutely impervious to any squadron regulations." However, he was extremely confident of his abilities, and he accomplished one of the most amazing feats of the war by destroying 15 enemy balloons and 3 planes within 17 days. The balloons were heavily guarded by German planes and antiaircraft guns and were regarded as the most dangerous and difficult targets of all.

Luke became a loner, but after one last spree in which he downed three balloons and two planes on the same raid, he did not return to his base. After his raid in the air, Luke was wounded but strafed and killed six Germans on the ground and wounded an equal number. He then landed his plane to get a drink of water from a stream but was discovered by a German foot patrol. He drew his revolver to defend himself but was killed by the soldiers.

From Aerospace: The Challenge by H. Bacon, M. Schrier, P. McGill, and G. Hellinga, Civil Air Patrol, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Third Edition 1989.

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