Posted September 2013

Odd occurrence today.  Plane was ready to go, I was just about to mount up, when a buddy came by.  I realized that I still needed to get a picture of myself sitting in the modified cockpit, showing how much more shoulder room my recent mod gave me.

But then I's bad luck, to get your picture taken just before a flight!

It's a very old aviation superstition, stemming from World War I or even earlier.  The Red Baron himself had his picture taken on April 21st, 1918, and look what happened to him.

Actually, it kind of a "lost history" thing.  Where IS that last photo of Von Richthofen?  The one on the right probably isn't it...note the helmet doesn't have any goggles on it.  The goggle straps need to be attached to the helmet, and it's almost impossible to do that when you're wearing it.  However, he does appear to be wearing a shoulder harness.

I found this picture online, and thought it was it:

One aspect argues that this might be the photo, but other aspects don't add up.  The note in favor is his flying coat; according to accounts, the dogfight that led to his death started around 12,000 feet.  That looks to be the right kind of coat for those altitudes in April.  But while at first glance the plane in the background looks like it has the rudder of a Fokker Triplane, the fuselage tapers too much...the Tripe kept a deep fuselage all the way to the back, but this fuselage tapers like a Fokker Eindekker.  I don't think it is...the Eindekker's fuselage doesn't quite have that shape...but I'm pretty sure it's not a Triplane.  Besides, it has the old Maltese crosses, by the Baron's death, the German Air Force had been converting to the straight-sided crosses (but the conversion wasn't complete).

Anyway, I taxied out that day unphotographed.  On the way out, I saw my friend Dan working on his RV-7.  Dan is even more steeped in aviation lore and history than I am...he has built models for the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.  I laughingly told him my story, and he agreed completely... I darn well SHOULDN'T have my picture taken before flight.

Anyway, my friend was still working in his hangar when I came back, and he obliged me with a picture on my return.  By the way, it's a Wanttaja family tradition...we don't smile for photos.  But did you notice how well my expression matches Richthofen's in the first photo? :-)

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