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“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 1: Eddie Rickenbacker” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have the inaugral installment featuring America’s Ace of Aces—Eddie Rickenbacker!

Rickenbacker is credited with 26 victories—the most of any American flyer. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, Legion of Honor, Croix de Guerre and the Distinguished Service Cross with 8 oak leaf clusters (1 silver & 3 bronze).

Before the war, Rickenbacker had become one of the most successful race car drivers, and, with the war’s end, Rickenbacker went back to what he knew. He elected to leave the air service and established his own automotive company that ultimately went out of business. Not detoured, he bought the Indianapolis Speedway—turning it around and making it profitable. From there he went into General Motors. When GM aquired North American Aviation in 1935, RIckenbacker was asked to manage one of their holdongs—Eastern Air Transport which Rickenbacker merged with Florida Airways to form Eastern Air Lines—taking a little airline flying a few thousand miles a week to major airline!

(Somehow during all this he found the time to also script two popular comic strip from 1935 to 1940—Ace Drummond and Hall of Fame of the Air.)

The advent of World War II brought Rickenbacker back to service—but as a civilian Representative to the Secretary of War in the survey of aircraft installations. Resuming his role at Eastern Air Lines after the war. With Eastern’s financial losses in the 1950’s, Rickenbacker was forced out of his position as CEO in 1959 and resigned as Chairman of the Board on December 31st, 1963.

Rickenbacker spent his remaining years lecturing, writing his autobiography and traveling with his wife. He suffered a stroke while in Switzerland and contracted pneumonia—dying on July 23rd, 1972.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

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