The most famous combat pilot of the history is the German Manfred von Richtoffen (1892-1918). He amassed around 80 kills while on air fighting during World War I. This leads him to become the top ace of this conflict and establishing fame like film stars on those early days of the XX century. He also was knew as the Red Baron, because his nobility title plus using this color for painting his planes. Finally, his squadron live on circus-like carps due to the continuous movement between fronts, so this is another reason of the name of his wing.
During this war several nationalities confront mainly on the European soils, and of course the surrounding seas and between the clouds for the first time thanks to the recent invention of the planes. Is not knew that Latin America have several veterans on this conflict, and is less knew that aviators from Argentina, Chile and Mexico fought for England and Germany as well. However, a Venezuelan born in Maracaibo in the year 1895 had the opportunity to be part of the best and most flamboyant Fighter Squadron founded by the Red Baron.
Carlos Otto Meyer Baldó past his childhood in Maracaibo, he was the fifth son of a prosperous German trade man and a Colombian woman. When he had six years old, his family of ten members moved to the capital of Venezuela. Afterword in the year 1908 the family set residents in Hamburg. When WWI started he offered as a volunteer for the local Cavalry brigade of the Dragoons in Wandsbeck, been sent to the Eastern front in the winter of 1914 and the summer of the next year in Prussia. He fought in the Battle of Lodz (nowadays Poland) and return with the degree of Lieutenant and earning the Hanseatic Cross.
In the spring of the year 1916, he offered as an apprentice for the German Imperial Military Aviation. The next February, he started to be pilot for the observation squadron FA201A, flying around 60 recon missions over the western front in France. On March 1917 his friend and neighbor Eduard Lübbert was kill on air combat while been on the Red Circus, Carlos offered to replace Eddy, and accepted on July this year. By this time, the Captain Richtoffen had the highest award of the German Empire, the Pour le merit also called the Blue Max. Nevertheless, the war still pushed casualties on both sides: the British pilot Noel Webb wound Carlos on July 17 and the same Englishman kill Otto Brauneck the 26th of that month. The red Baron was also wound by this summer on his head, that is the reason because he wears those days a bandage.
The first air victory of the Venezuelan was the last day of July over the skies of Belgium against an observation British biplane RE8 (serial A4724) killing both aviators. Next mid-august another shutdown but unconfirmed again and English Camel biplane. In September, the early Fokker triplanes arrived to the flying circus and were test by the captain Manfred. On day 3, Carlos was the escort of the Red Baron. Around the 15, the Latin-American and George van Der Ostend share a British DH4 kill with the two aviators captured. The rest of the year passed without victories for the Venezuelan.
Beginning 1918 Carlos went to the 4th squadron which was part of the Red Baron wing under command of the second ace of the German Empire in March, Ernst Udet. The next month Manfred von Richtoffen were killed, however war still going on, and especially in the summer a new revolutionary biplane was given to the fighters, the Fokker D.VII where Carlos had a distinctive marking “the drooling boxer”. On this plane, Meyer achieved four more victories: two French Spads, one American Camel and one British observation aerostat.
On September, he was transferred to the fighter training school number 2 at Coblentz, where the armistice arrived on 11th November. Bitter years of the defeated Germany arrived soon, hyperinflation, social riots between Hamburg and Berlin, and the reparations of war to France and England destroy the German economy. So Carlos returned to Venezuela in the year 1926. Before leave Hamburg, he went to the Richtoffen’s Memorials of the November 25.
In Caracas he works as a manager and play soccer on his free time, but in 1931 he return to fly with the Venezuelan Military Flying Corp in Maracay. Retrain in the United States the next year and back to Maracay where he was the inspector. In November 27 of 1933, he was flying a Stearman biplane doing acrobatics with his mechanic Hector Arias at the backseat when the top wing broke; the plane went down to the death of both aviators. His compatriots honored Meyer, even more a German commission who remember his service during WWI and defending the Weimar Democratic Republic. The second highest award of the Venezuelan Air Force carry his name. The history have more details but these are part of my two published books and a fictional unpublished text.