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Eugène Gilbert
Eugene Gilbert sans his mustache
Born (1889-07-19)July 19, 1889
Riom, France
Died 17 May 1918(1918-05-17) (aged 28)
Villacoublay, France
Awards Legion d'Honneur, Medaille Militaire, Croix de Guerre

Gilbert with Morane-Saulnier combat monoplane during WW1

Sous Lieutenant Eugène Gilbert (19 July 1889 – 17 May 1918) was a World War I flying ace credited with five aerial victories. He had also been a famous pioneer pre-war racing pilot, flying to many countries throughout Europe.[1]


Gilbert was born in 1889 in Riom, France. He became interested in flight in his teens and actually built his own version of a flying machine around 1909. The machine appears to have been unsuccessful but Gilbert took on more conventional fixed-wing flying machines, gaining his pilot's license on 4 Oct 1910. By 1911, he was flying a Bleriot XI. In the 1911 Paris to Madrid air race, Gilbert flew across the Pyrenees Mountains and was attacked by an angry mother eagle defending her young and nest; to ward off the large bird, he simply fired pistol shots at her rather than kill her.[2] On 24 April 1913, Gilbert made a record nonstop cross-country flight of 826 km (523 miles) from Villacoublay, France, to Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, in 8 hours 23 minutes.[3]

By 1915, Gilbert was in uniform as a combat pilot. Like fellow French pre-war pilot Adolphe Pegoud, Gilbert was one of the first pilots to become an ace, an aviator who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft. On 27 June 1915 Gilbert was interned after force landing his Morane-Saulnier fighter in Switzerland after bombing the zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen. He later succeeded in escaping from captivity and returning to France.[4] He was killed on 17 May 1918 when test-flying a new aircraft at Villacoublay.


  1. Sous Lieutenant Eugene Gilbert at The Aerodrome database
  2. Eugene Gilbert at
  3. Daniel, Clifton, ed., Chronicle of the 20th Century, Mount Kisco, New York: Chronicle Publications, 1987, ISBN 0-942191-01-3, p. 171.
  4. The End of M. GilbertFlight 23 May 1918
Preceded by
Adolphe Pégoud
Top Flying Ace
France, WWI
Succeeded by
Georges Guynemer

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