Georges Guynemer
Captain Georges Guynemer, also named 'As des As' (the 'Ace of Aces').
Photo: © L’Illustration, 1916
Georges Guynemer
Guynemer flying a single-seat Nieuport XB. Note the cord with which he had to operate his Lewis gun.
Photo: © L’Illustration, 1916
Georges Guynemer
13 May 1916: Guynemer carries the flag of the French Air Force during a ceremony in the grounds of the Dijon Longvic air force base.

GEORGES GUYNEMER

Georges Guynemer was born in Paris on Sunday, 24 December 1894. His father was a former officer and his mother a descendant of an aristocratic family. Young Georges spends his early childhood at the castle of Le Thuit (Andelys). He has a happy, easy youth and grows up with the warmth and care of his mother, his two elder sisters and a German governess. He experiences rather poor health and therefore he regularly spends some time in Switzerland and in the South of France. He is fond of fencing and roller-skating and anything technical attracts his attention. In 1903, the Guynemer family takes up residence in Compiègne, where Georges attends school and prepares to study engineering at the Polytechnical School 'Saint Stanislas' in Paris. The early years of 1900 see a real breakthrough in aviation. Several French pilots show remarkable skills (Santos-Dumont, Henri Farman, Louis Blériot). This enthrals Guynemer and he discusses with his father his desire to become a pilot. In 1912, he takes his first flight.

Georges Guynemer
Captain Georges Guynemer, also named 'As des As' (the 'Ace of Aces').
Photo: © L’Illustration, 1916

Education

At the outbreak of war Georges Guynemer registers with the army but, due to his rather poor health, he is rejected twice for military service.
However, he is determined to become a pilot and through his enormous perseverance and with a little help from his father and the understanding from the commander of the military aviation school in Pau, he succeeds in reaching his goal.
At the end of 1914, Guynemer presents himself, together with his father, to commander Bernard-Thierry in Pau; but the officer also acknowledges that he is unable to satisfy Guynemer's wish to enrol in the Air Force.
The young Guynemer cries upon leaving the commander's office. The fact that this young student is very keen on serving his country impresses the commander so much that he changes his mind and hires Georges as a trainee technician and flight engineer. Due to the fact that he does not have a medical certificate nor a military training, he can only be hired as auxiliary staff. In his spare time, Georges attends some courses in mechanics. When the commander hears on 21 January 1915 that 100 new recruits are to be enrolled and put their names down to be trained as pilots, he adds Guynemer's name to the list despite the fact that he cannot submit the necessary documents. The following morning, Guynemer can start his theoretical and practical training at the aviation school of Avord. Despite the fact that he has crashed two aircrafts, he obtains his military pilot's license. He is sent to the front as corporal-pilot, where he joins the "Escadrille M.S (Morane-Saulnier) 3" in Vauciennes.

Georges Guynemer
Guynemer flying a single-seat Nieuport XB. Note the cord with which he had to operate his Lewis gun.
Photo: © L’Illustration, 1916

Pilot

He gains his first aerial victory on 19 July 1915. In February 1916, he is appointed an 'ace', a notation granted in France to a pilot after five victories. Ultimately Guynemer participates in more than 600 aerial combats. He is shot down seven times, but each time survives and attains 53 confirmed victories in addition to around 32 unconfirmed victories in enemy territory.
On 8 February 1917, while flying a SPAD VII, Guynemer becomes the first allied forces pilot who succeeds in downing a heavy German bomber (Gotha G.III°), with the help of André Chainat.
On 18 February 1917, he is promoted to captain and on 11 June he becomes the youngest officer in the Legion of Honour of the French army. On 4 September, he is appointed as head of the squadron, but technical break-downs of his aircraft make him feel nervous and tense. His moral reaches an all-time low, even more so due to the fact that his superiors consider the idea of removing him from the scene of battle and appointing him as an instructor.

Georges Guynemer
13 May 1916: Guynemer carries the flag of the French Air Force during a ceremony in the grounds of the Dijon Longvic air force base.

His last flight

On Monday morning, 11 September 1917, at 8.25 a.m., Guynemer takes off in his SPAD from Saint-Pol-sur-Mer patrolling the battlefields of the 'Westhoek'. He crashes near the municipality of Poelkapelle. The exact circumstances of Guynemer's downing will always remain a mystery. It is clear however, that while he is engaged in an air fight with German two-seaters, he is hit. His aircraft bores down on the Albatros of the German Kurt Wisseman and ultimately crashes. Later the German High Command declares that he has been shot down by Wisseman.

Georges Guynemer
It was not long before Guynemer was to fly under the name 'Le vieux Charles' ('The Old Charles'). A name that he would never change.
Photo: © The museum de l'air et de l'espace in Bourget

OPENING TIMES OF THE PAVILION

  • The Guynemer Pavillion will be open from March 17, 2018.
  • Wednesday until Saturday from 10am to 6.30pm
  • The first two Sundays of each month from 10am to 5pm
  • On the other Sundays of each month from 10am to 12.30pm and in the afternoon by appointment only and with a certified guide

ENTRANCE FEES: PAVILJON

INDIVIDUALS 6 years and above5.00 euro

GROUPS From 10 persons4.50 euro
  From 30 persons4.00 euro

GUIDE Per tour40.00 euro

Georges Guynemer
It was not long before Guynemer was to fly under the name 'Le vieux Charles' ('The Old Charles'). A name that he would never change.
Photo: © The museum de l'air et de l'espace in Bourget