History – Aviation and Aircraft – The Red Baron Shot Down

By Neil Wilson - Sub Editor for the Bribie Islander

History. Aviation. The Red Baron. WWII. War. Aircraft.

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Tags: History. Aviation. The Red Baron. WWI. War. Aircraft. Show.


Just after 11 am on April 21st in 1918, the Fokker Tri-Plane flown by German air ace Baron Manfred Von Richtofen (The Red Baron) was shot down over France by Sergeant Cedric Popkin, an Australian from 54th Machine Gun Company and, exactly one hundred years on from when this occurred, the event will be re-enacted to mark the start of the Great War Flying Display, a two day spectacular which will be held at the Caboolture Airfield.

Featured Image(above): The event will open with the shooting down of the Red Baron

The 2018 Great War Flying Display is being presented by The Australian Vintage Aviation Society (TAVAS), a Caboolture based not for profit organisation that is totally dedicated to preserving the history of early aviation and to educating all Australians about the impact that the early flying machines and the people who flew them had during World War One. This is the third year that TAVAS has held the event and organisation founder Andrew Carter explained to me about why this will be the biggest and probably the last one.

History. Aviation. The Red Baron. WWII. War. Aircraft.

The old and the new. A Super Hornet will accompany a Bristol F.2 B on a flypast

‘This year, the Great War Flying Display will be the final time that we can celebrate one hundred years of military aviation and Australia’s involvement. Not only were Australian aviators heavily involved in World War One, we were the only dominion in the Commonwealth to form our own flying corps,’ said Andrew. ‘The displays in the two previous years were basically dress rehearsals in the lead up to this one.

This year there will be more flying displays, much more on the ground for people to see, more aircraft and better facilities such as parking,’ he said. Andrew told me that an interesting part of the story relating to the shooting down of the Red Baron is that at first it was thought that a Canadian pilot by the name of Roy Brown was responsible but by 1997, ballistics, forensic science and computer modelling have conclusively proved otherwise.

History. Aviation. The Red Baron. WWII. War. Aircraft.

Visitors to the Great War Flying Display will see simulated aerial combat

He said that after the event is re-enacted at the opening of this year’s display, those who attend will be kept entertained by World War One aircraft in simulated combat, ground displays of aircraft from throughout the ages and will be able to choose from a great range of refreshments. He advises that although there will be an ATM on site during the event, it will have a limited money supply so it would be best to bring sufficient cash.

Ticket sales at the gate will be by cash only. During the preparation for the display, the band of volunteers at TAVAS have been working hard to ensure that the aircraft will be ready for the April weekend. This has included the assembling the three extra aircraft, a Nieuport 24 in the colours of French air ace Georges Guynemer, a black Fokker Tri-Plane in the colours of German ace Josef Jacobs and a Henri Farman 3 which was the forerunner to the Bristol Box Kite which was used to train the first Australian airmen.

History. Aviation. The Red Baron. WWII. War. Aircraft.

German ace Josef Jacobs shot down 40 enemy planes with his black Fokker tri-plane

Although Baron Von Richtofen was recognised as being responsible for the most kills of the war (a total of eighty), his tally while flying his red tri-plane was only nineteen whilst Josef Jacobs became the German ace with the most kills from a tri-plane with a forty of his total of forty-eight being carried out in the black Fokker.

A very special part of the weekend will be when the crowd will be treated to the joint flypast of a 1918 Bristol F2 B fighter and a 2018 Super Hornet as a celebration of one hundred years of military aviation. Other aircraft that will be either flying or part of the ground display will include a Fokker E.III Eindecker, a Fokker D. VIII and a Pietenpol Aircamper as well as a Tiger Moth, a Cessna O-1 BirdDog, a Wirraway and a Mig 17 jet fighter. Andrew told me that there will also be an aerial display by RAAF 816 Squadron and 4 Squadron from Williamstown will be there with their forward air control PC 9 aircraft.

The 2018 Great War Flying Display offers visitors the chance to see the only collection of flying Great War aircraft in Australia as well as more from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the current era over a very unique family weekend.

There will also be the opportunity to go on an adventure flight. Gates will open from 9 am on each of the two days and, whilst tickets will be available at the gate, they can also be purchased online by going to the website www.gwfd.tavas.com.au and, as a great bonus, each person who purchases a ticket to the Great War Flying Display will receive a “two for One” ticket to the newly established TAVAS Museum for any time after the weekend event. The TAVAS Museum is another part of the organisation’s efforts to cement the history of aviation and is in its final stages of completion.

History. Aviation. The Red Baron. WWII. War. Aircraft.

The Nieuport 24 in the colours of French ace Georges Guynemer

Visitors will be able to see the story of aviation told on wall placards around the building and also the section that is dedicated to our Australian aces of World War One. There will be four aircraft suspended from the ceiling and there will be a replica 1901 Number 21 Condor, (the aircraft that was flown by Gustav Whitehead two years prior to the flight by the Wright brothers), a 1909 Johnson Monoplane (manufactured by the Johnson Brothers before they began to produce marine outboards), a 1917 SE 5A fighter in the colours of Australia’s one-legged fighter ace, Frank Alberry and a 1933 Flying Flea.

As well as these, there will be a selection of aircraft that date from 1910 until 1932 for viewing at floor level. During the time that I spent talking to Andrew recently, he made a point of paying tribute to the wonderful efforts of the volunteers who spend so much of their time working on the aircraft and other preparations that are necessary to make the event a success.

He told me that without the expertise of Dave Walsh, there would not be a flying display and said how grateful he was for the help of TAVAS cofounder Nathalie Gochel who has taken care of much of the necessary documentation. He also mentioned about the job done by Ray Vuillermin who does a great job looking after issues such as the sourcing of pilots and other flying associated matters.

History. Aviation. The Red Baron. WWII. War. Aircraft.

The TAVAS workshop is a busy place in the lead up to the display

While I was taking a walk through the busy TAVAS workshop area, I met VOLUNTEER James Smith who Andrew tells me has recently retired from the navy and is now spending a lot of time preparing the museum and helping with the work on the aircraft.

The Great War Flying Display will surely be the type of very special event that should not be missed by either young or old and all those who are associated with the TAVAS organisation are to be congratulated for their dedication to the history of aviation.

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