Segments in this Video

Edward Rickenbacker: Introduction (01:23)


Rickenbacker dropped out of school in the seventh grade to help support the family. He became a race car driver, enlisted in the Army during WWI, conned his way into flight training, started an automobile company, and reestablished Eastern Airlines.

Rickenbacker's Background (04:26)

Rickenbacker was born in 1890 to Swiss immigrants. At the age of 12, he dropped out of school and worked his way through repair and manufacturing jobs. He raced cars for Firestone-Columbus, formed the Maxwell Special racing team, and enlisted in the Army.

Early Military Career (03:47)

Rickenbacker arrived in France in June 1917 and chauffeured dignitaries; he changed the spelling of his name. With the help of Col. Billy Mitchell, Rickenbacker entered the Air Corps. He received formal gunnery training, joined the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron and patrolled German lines.

WWI Combat Experience (03:46)

Rickenbacker intercepted a German plane when it entered Allied territory; he became an ace. Rickenbacker struggled with health issues and endured several periods of convalescence. He recorded several kills and took command of the 94th Squadron.

War Hero (03:37)

Rickenbacker vowed to change the environment in which pilots received training. The war ended in November 1918 and Rickenbacker returned to the U.S. He opened the Rickenbacker Automobile Company, established Florida Airway, purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and worked for General Motors (GM); he received the Medal of Honor in 1930.

Approaching WWII (03:34)

Rickenbacker returned to GM after a year off, reestablished Eastern Airlines, and professionalized copilots. He joined the America First Committee, observed the progress of German aviation, and toured American air bases. Rickenbacker's plane went down; he was rescued after 23 days.

Rickenbacker's Later Career (02:11)

Rickenbacker returned to Eastern Airlines and orchestrated the purchase of a constellation aircraft. He refused to allow Eastern to use jets and was fired in 1959. Rickenbacker became an outspoken activist, published a book on economics, and died in 1973.

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Edward Rickenbacker (00:30)

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Edward Rickenbacker

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Legends of Air Power: Edward Rickenbacker

Part of the Series : Legends of Air Power
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Eddie Rickenbacker’s love of speed started in the form of auto racing. Rickenbacker raised the money to buy Indianapolis Speedway in 1927, where he had raced in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. His attention turned to airplanes during WWI, when he enlisted in the army and after aerial gunnery training was assigned to the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron, quickly becoming an ace fighter. During WWII, Rickenbacker and his B-17 crew were lost at sea for 24 days, after their B-17 overshot its mark. He credited his wife, who convinced General “Hap” Arnold to extend the search for another week, with saving his life and the lives of his crew. Rickenbacker later went onto own Eastern Airlines.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL129046

ISBN: 978-1-64198-033-3

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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