26 April 1896 – Ernst Udet is born

On 26th April 1896, Ernst Udet, a German Great War air ace, aerobatic and stunt pilot, as well as one of developers of the re-created German air force and Colonel-General of Luftwaffe, was born.

Ernst Udet was, without any doubts, one of the most colourful figures of interwar aviation. The Great War air ace with sixty-two aerial victories, after the war relatively quickly found himself in a role of aerobatic and stunt pilot. His incredible flying skills gave him worldwide fame. In the 1920s and the early 1930s, Udet appeared in several aviation and adventure movies, participated in air races and performed flying displays at air shows. All that allowed him to live a life of an international playboy.

Regrettably, in the early 1930s Udet followed his former fellow-pilot Hermann Göring and his promises of even greater glory as one of founders of the new German air force, Luftwaffe. Although he did not care of politics, Udet joined the NSDAP and started the new career in Reichsluftfahrtministerium (the Reich Ministry of Aviation). Initially, he was appointed position of Inspekteur der Jagd- und Sturzkampfflieger (Inspector of Fighter and Dive Bomber Pilots, since 1935), then Chef des Technischen Amtes des Reichsluftfahrtministeriums (Chief of the RLM Technical Office) and finally Luftwaffe Generalluftzeugmeister (Chief of Procurement and Supply, since February of 1939).

Unfortunately for him, the political life filled with intrigues and games of personal interest, overwhelmed him within a few years. Eventually, on 17th November 1941, Ernst Udet committed suicide by shooting himself.

More about the early flying career and the life of one of the best pilots in history of aviation can be found in our article issued in March of 2022.

Cover photo: Udet in cockpit of Fokker Dreidecker, nicknamed – as many of his aircraft – ´Lo!´, after his childhood sweetheart and then wife for a moment, Eleanor Zink (photo: Lou Larson Collection, San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive via Flickr Commons)