Roland Garros

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For the tennis tournament named after this man, see French Open.
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Roland Garros has been considered the worlds first fighter pilot. In 1915, during World War I, he introduced a revolutionary method of destroying enemy aeroplanes by placing a forward-firing machine-gun on his aeroplane and metal deflector plates on the wooden propeller. He died just a month shy of the end of the war in 1918.

Roland Garros (October 6, 1888October 5, 1918) was an early French aviator and a fighter aircraft pilot during World War I.

Garros was already a noted aviator before the war. In 1913 he gained fame for making the first nonstop flight across the Mediterranean Sea. The next year he joined the French army at the outbreak of World War I. After several missions he decided that shooting and flying at the same time was too difficult, so he fitted a machine gun to the front of his plane so the tasks became one and the same. In order to protect the propeller from the bullets, he fitted metal wedges to the prop. Starting from April 1, 1915, he soon shot down three German planes and quickly garnered an excellent reputation.

On April 18, 1915, he was shot down and glided to a landing on the German side of the lines. After examining his plane Anthony Fokker's team designed an improved system known as the interrupter gear. Soon the tables were reversed with Fokker's planes shooting down every plane they met, leading to what became known as the Fokker Scourge.

Garros managed to escape from prisoner-of-war camp in Germany in February 1918 and joined the French army again. On October 5th, 1918, he was shot down again and killed near Vouziers.

Garros is erroneously called the world's first fighter ace. In fact he shot down 3 aircraft, and the honor of the first ace went to another French airman, Adolphe Pegoud. Nevertheless, Garros was an outstanding aviator and probably the first real fighter pilot in the world.

In the 1920s, a tennis centre was named after the pilot, Stade de Roland Garros. The stadium accommodates the French Open, one of tennis' Grand Slam tournaments. Subsequently, the tournament is popularly and officially called Roland Garros. The international airport of Runion, Roland Garros Airport, is also named after him.

See also

es:Roland Garros fr:Roland Garros it:Roland Garros ja:ローラン・ギャロス nl:Roland Garros (luchtheld) pl:Roland Garros pt:Roland Garros sl:Roland Garros zh:罗兰加洛斯

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