However he learnt that if he were a trained pilot, he would be immediately accepted in to the army aviation service. With the help of a family friend, Gustav Otto, whose aircraft factory he had hung around in his youth, Udet received private pilot’s training. This cost him 2,000 Marks and new bathroom fittings from his Father’s company. Udet received his civilian pilot’s licence at the end of April 1915 and was immediately accepted for service by the Imperial German Air Service.
Udet at first flew in Feld Flieger – Abtielung 206 ( F.F.A.206 ) an observation unit as an Unterofficier ( non – commissioned pilot with observer Leutnant Justinius. He and his observer won the Iron Cross ( 2nd class for Udet and Ist class for his Officer ) for nursing their damaged Aviatik B.1 two-seater back to the German lines after a shackle on a wing-cable snapped. Justinius had climbed out to hold the wing and balance it rather than landing behind enemy lines and being captured. After the structural failure of the Aviatik that caused Udet and Justinius to go down, and a similar incident resulting in loss of life, the Aviatik B was retired from service.
Later Udet was court – martialled for losing an aircraft, in an incident that the Flying Corps considered a case of bad judgment. Overloaded with fuel and bombs, the aircraft stalled after a sharp bank and plunged in to the ground. Miraculously neither Udet or Justinius were seriously hurt, both escaping with minor injuries. Udet was placed under arrest in the Guardhouse for seven days. on his release from the guardhouse he was asked to fly Leutnant Hartmann to observe a bombing raid on Belfort. A bomb thrown by hand by the Leutnant became stuck in the aircrafts landing gear, but Udet performed aerobatics and managed to shake it loose. As soon as the air Staff Officer heard about Udet’s performance during the incident, he ordered Udet transferred to the Fighter command.
To Be Continued……………………..
(C) Damian Grange 2019