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Among Greatest Pilots – Maxime LENOIR Destiny

Maxime LENOIR - 11-victory ace in 1916

Maxime LENOIR – 11-victory ace in 1916 – was not born in Paris but Chargé, in the Loire Valley

December 22, 2014

Maxime LENOIR would have been 116 years old today. 116, like his aircraft registration number up on the fin of his legendary SPAD VII tagged “Trompe la mort III” which meant “death-dodger”.

Lenoir, Navarre, Guynemer, and Nungesser - WW1 Aces

Lenoir, Navarre, Guynemer, and Nungesser – WW1 Aces

He used to be one of the most renowned and talented pilots. He had been an aviation pioneer as he was among the very first pilots who performed the famous “looping the loop” aerobatic manoeuvre in the trail of Adolphe Pégoud between 1913 and 1914. He took part in a few air races, and a lot of air shows on his Blériot XI, nicknamed “Backjumper”. The local, national, and international press started to write articles about his prodigal sense of flying in the numerous airshows as the spectators cheered him every time he showed up. For instance, he was carried in triumph after he performed aerobatic manoeuvres above the “La Girardière” airfield in Chargé, his home village where up to 5,000 people were gathered to attend his air show in May 1914.

Lenoir was rising to fame when Archduke Franz-Ferdinand was murdered and as the “European war” broke out, he joined up shortly after. In spite of his exceptional flying skills, Maxime Lenoir was unfortunately compelled to join the French cavalry. He then kept on requesting an assignment in the brand new military aeronautics recently created by General Hirschauer, and became a fighter pilot. However, he was first posted to the target-shooting department at the C18 flight, then he was transferred to the N23 flight as a fighter pilot. He waged a devastating war over the trenches, and against the Prussian aviation in fierce air battles over Verdun. He tested new weapons, and airplanes. After a few victories in 1915, he became the N23’s best fighter pilot, and most decorated among prestigious names – Pinsard, Casale, Gilbert, de Beauchamp, Rochechouart de Mortemart, Brindejonc des Moulinais, Roland Garros, Pulpe (from Russia), Baumont, etc. He was the best ace in his flight, and even reached the top four French aces in 1916 as he remained in the top-two aces in the summer of that year.

Maxime Lenoir looping the loop and airshows - early 1914

Maxime Lenoir looping the loop and airshows – early 1914

According to German soldiers’ testimony, Lenoir was a very skillful and fearsome ace. They knew him well as they knew Navarre, Nungesser, Guynemer, Dorme, and Boelcke, of course. It is important to note that Mannock, Collishaw, Bishop, Löwenhardt, Little, Udet, McCudden, Fonck, Von Richthofen, Beauchamp-Proctor, and McLaren were not so famous at that time for some of them were not aces or did not have so many victories. Air war between 1914 and 1916 was totally different from 1917/1918. As Lenoir had trained at Blériot’s Buc airfield, the best aerobatic flying school, he was able to cope with a jammed machine gun and dodge the enemy fire. Like a toreador, and in a very skillful way, he could lure the enemy pilots when his

fellow pilots were under heavy fire. He was the best bullet dodger but took a lot of risks, too much maybe. He flew back to Vadelaincourt airfield with his aircraft crippled with bullets many times. He never hesitated to help his fellow pilots whenever he could since he dared to face up to several German airplanes in a row. He was deemed to be a very good friend, as well as salvation in the sky of Verdun. For instance, when he learnt that his friend Navarre (nicknamed “Verdun’s sentinel”) had been shot down and seriously wounded on June 17th, 1916, he took off immediately. Alone, he made for the location where his friend had been downed, and dashed to an LVG C that he shot down without delay. He became so famous that candy wrappers, and stamps featured either his name or his portrait among the greatest aces in the hall of fame.



Maxime Lenoir had more than a hundred war missions, which was considerable at that time. Wounded twice in air combat, he kept on dogfighting. He took off the day after the take back of Fort Douaumont, wrecked havoc by the battle. He was reported absent on October 25th, 1916, at night then MIA (missed in action) until much later when he was declared “Dead for France”. However, he has never been found despite extensive searching.

DORME & LENOIR - 1916 Candy Wrapper

DORME & LENOIR – 1916 Candy Wrapper

Unfortunately, this is why aviation history forgot him for almost a century. One of the most brilliant pilots had disappeared from World War 1 history. He remained all the same in a few books in English, and Jacques Mortane, the French journalist left several publications highlighting the role of Maxime Lenoir in aviation and air combat. Then nothing, almost nothing written on this pilot who was awarded the Legion d’honneur, Médaille militaire, Croix de guerre, as well as the notorious Aeroclub of America, and Aeroclub of France gold medals!

Only two men kept his remembrance alive – first, Abel Anjorand who has always been a long-time friend of Lenoir’s family. He compiled a set of documents and pictures to leave a trace of the village’s ace to future generations. Didier Lecoq, a journalist and historian, has revealed Maxime Lenoir’s feats on his website for a few years. The WW1 ace could have stayed hidden for possibly a couple more decades without Didier Lecoq’s outstanding work. Didier Lecoq rightly pointed out that there is no building, no square, and no street called Maxime Lenoir.

Lenoir congratulated by British officers

Lenoir congratulated by British officers

Last not least, there is good news since the national and regional officials have officially recognized Maxime Lenoir as the WW1 hero for Tours and Indre-et-Loire in the remembrance operation called “100 cities, 100 heroes, and 100 flags” since last summer. A ceremony to pay tribute to the local hero was held in the capital of Touraine, Place Anatole France on the left bank of the Loire river on Friday, September 19th, 2014. The Lenoir’s family, their friends and some veterans attended the ceremony which ended in the majestic festival hall at the city hall.

Maxime Lenoir’s disappearance in history handbooks for almost a century remains a mystery. Moreover, avgeeks, online gamers as well as modelists used Lenoir’s features “Trompe la mort III”, “Max”, and “Backjumper” tagged from markings just along with Guynemer’s “Vieux Charles”. No wonder if Maxime Lenoir recovered his position in aviation history for at least two books featuring the former ace are to be published between 2015 and 2016 – and quite rightly so. Among the 100 WW1 heroes, Maxime Lenoir turns out to be the 5th ace in victories out of 21 other aces, and the second “Dead for France” ace after… Guynemer!


En français:

Maxime Lenoir & Nieuport - summer 1916

Maxime Lenoir & Nieuport – summer 1916

Maxime LENOIR aurait eu 116 ans aujourd’hui. 116 comme le numéro de série sur l’empennage vertical de son légendaire SPAD VII marqué du surnom ”Trompe la mort III”.

Il fût autrefois un des plus connus et talentueux pilotes de sa génération. Il avait été pionnier de l’aviation alors qu’il faisait partie de ces quelques pilotes capable d’accomplir des boucles en voltige à la suite d’Adolphe Pégoud entre 1913 et 1914. Il s’engagea dans quelques courses d’avions et de nombreux meetings aériens sur son Blériot XI surnommé ”Backjumper”. La presse locale, nationale et internationale commença à publier des articles sur son sens prodigue du pilotage dans les nombreux meetings aériens étant donné que les spectateurs l’acclamaient à chaque fois qu’il se produisait. Par exemple, il fût porté en triomphe après avoir avoir accompli des figures acrobatiques au-dessus du terrain d’aviation de “La Girardière” à Chargé son village natal où jusqu’à 5000 personnes s’étaient rassemblées pour assister à son show aérien en mai 1914.

Alors que la notoriété de Lenoir était croissante, l’archiduc François-Ferdinand fût assassiné et la ”Guerre européenne” éclata. Il s’engagea dans l’armée peu de temps après. Malgré ses compétences exceptionnelles en tant que pilote, Maxime Lenoir fût malheureusement contraint de rejoindre la cavalerie française. Il continua ensuite à demander une mutation vers l’Aéronautique militaire récemment créée par le général Hirschauer et devint pilote de chasse. Toutefois il fût d’abord affecté au réglage du tir à l’escadrille C18, puis il fût affecté à l’escadrille N23 comme pilote de chasse. Il mena une guerre terrible au dessus des tranchées et engagea des combats aériens acharnés contre l’aviation prussienne au dessus de Verdun. Après quelques victoires en 1915, il devint le meilleur pilote de chasse de la N23, ainsi que le plus décoré parmi des noms prestigieux : Pinsard, Casale, Gilbert, de Beauchamp, Rochechouart de Mortemart, Brindejonc des Moulinais, Roland Garros, Pulpe (venant de Russie), Baumont, etc.

D’après des témoignages de soldats allemand, Lenoir était un as très adroit et redoutable. Ils le connaissaient comme ils connaissaient Navarre, Nungesser, Guynemer, Dorme et bien sûr Boelcke. Il est important de rappeler que Mannock, Collishaw, Bishop, Löwenhardt, Little, Udet, McCudden, Fonck, Von Richthofen, Beauchamp-Proctor, and McLaren n’étaient pas aussi célèbres à ce moment là car certains d’entre eux n’étaient pas des as ou ne comptaient pas autant de victoires. La guerre aérienne entre 1914 et 1916 était totalement différente de celle menée entre 1917 et 1918. Comme Lenoir avait été formé au terrain d’aviation de Buc chez Blériot, la meilleure école d’acrobatie aérienne, il parvenait à échapper au feu ennemi lorsque sa mitrailleuse s’enrayait. Comme un toréador et de façon très habile, il savait comment leurrer les aéroplanes ennemis lorsque ses camarades pilotes subissaient un feu nourri. C’était le roi de l’esquive mais il prenait beaucoup de risques, trop peut-être. Il revint plusieurs fois au terrain de Vadelaincourt son avion criblé de balles. Il n’hésitait jamais à voler au secours de ses camarades pilotes à chaque fois qu’il le pouvait puisqu’il osait faire face à plusieurs appareils allemands d’affilée. Il avait la réputation d’être un très bon ami ainsi qu’un véritable salut dans le ciel de Verdun. Par exemple, lorsqu’il apprit que son ami Navarre (surnommé ”la sentinelle de Verdun”) avait été abattu et grièvement blessé le 17 juin 1916, il décolla immédiatement. Seul, il se rendit sur les lieux où son ami avait été abattu et fonça sur un LVG C qu’il descendit sans tarder. Il devint si célèbre que son nom ou son portrait figurait sur des emballages de bonbons et des timbres parmi les plus grands as au temple de la renommée.

Maxime Lenoir totalisait plus d’une centaine de missions de guerre, ce qui était considérable à cette époque. Blessé à deux reprises en combat aérien, il continua à livrer des combats aériens. Il décolla le lendemain de la reprise du fort de Douaumont ravagé par la bataille. Il fût inscrit aux absents au soir du 25 octobre 1916 puis porté disparu et ce n’est que bien plus tard qu’il fût déclaré ”Mort pour la France”. On ne l’a cependant jamais retrouvé malgré de multiples recherches.

Malheureusement, voilà pourquoi l’histoire de l’aviation l’a oublié pendant presque un siècle. L’un des plus brillants pilotes avait disparu de l’histoire de la première guerre mondiale. Son souvenir subsistait tout de même dans quelques livres en anglais et Jacques Mortane, le journaliste français laissa plusieurs publications soulignant le rôle de Maxime Lenoir dans l’aviation et le combat aérien. Puis plus rien, on n’écrivit presque rien sur ce pilot qui fût décoré de la Légion d’honneur, de la Médaille militaire, la Croix de guerre, ainsi que lui furent attribué les prestigieuses médailles d’or de l’Aéroclub d’Amérique et de l’Aéroclub de France!

Deux hommes seulement, ont su conserver son souvenir intact. D’abord Abel Anjorand qui a toujours été un ami de longue date de la famille Lenoir. Il a compilé toute une série de documents et d’images pour laisser une trace de l’as du village à de futures générations. Didier Lecoq, journaliste et historien révèle depuis quelques années les exploits de Maxime Lenoir sur son site . L’as de la première guerre mondiale aurait pu resté caché pendant peut-être encore quelques décennies de plus sans le magnifique travail de Didier Lecoq qui fait remarquer fort justement qu’aucun bâtiment, aucune place, aucune rue ne porte le nom de Maxime Lenoir.

Il y a enfin une bonne nouvelle puisque depuis l’été dernier, les responsables nationaux et régionaux reconnaissent officiellement Maxime Lenoir comme le héros de la Grande guerre pour la ville de Tours et l’Indre-et-Loire dans l’opération de commémoration ”100 villes, 100 héros, 100 drapeaux”. Une cérémonie pour rendre hommage au héros local s’est déroulée dans la capitale de Touraine, place Anatole France sur la rive gauche de la Loire le vendredi 19 septembre 2014. La famille Lenoir, leurs amis et des anciens combattants ont assisté à la cérémonie qui s’acheva dans la majestueuse salle des fêtes de l’hôtel de ville.

La disparition de Maxime Lenoir des manuels d’histoire pendant presque un siècle demeure un mystère. Ce qui est encore plus étrange, c’est que des fans d’aviation, des joueurs en ligne ainsi que des modélistes ont utilisé des symboles de Lenoir comme ”Trompe la mort III”, ”Max” et ”Backjumper” tirés pour certains de décalcomanies accompagnant le ”Vieux Charles” de Guynemer. Ce n’est pas étonnant que Lenoir retrouve sa place dans l’histoire de l’aviation car au moins deux livres évoquant l’ancien as doivent paraître entre 2015 et 2016 et fort justement. Parmi les 100 héros de la Grande guerre, il s’avère que Maxime arrive comme le 5ème as par le nombre de victoires sur un total de 21 aviateurs et il est dans cette liste le second as ”Mort pour la France” juste après… Guynemer !

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Florian Rochat's book cover -

Book Cover


“The Legend of Little Eagle” is a novel about destinies that intersect. It is based on a true story which involved an actual American pilot – Lieutenant LeRoy Lutz – whose warplane was hit by anti-aircraft fire while strafing a German train. He then made the decision of purposefully crashing into a clear area instead of dashing into a French village called Mardeuil in Champagne, in June 1944. He did not survive to his feat, but the villagers did.

LeRoy Lutz has been turned into “John Philippe Garreau”, and LeRoy Lutz flew a P-38 Lightning whereas Garreau is on a P-51 Mustang for the novel.

Here is further information about this book from a post written by Florian Rochat – the book’s author – published in French on January 24th, 2012:

In 1999, while I was in Montana researching my novel “Cougar corridor”, I discovered a letter mailed from France in 1947. It said how a pilot of the US Army Air Force, Lieutenant LeRoy Lutz, had avoided a tragedy by staying on his damaged plane in order not to fall on a small village of Champagne, Mardeuil. It was in June 1944. Having renounced the bail out option while still able to do so, Lutz (picture below) had paid with his life this heroic act. His Lightning P-38 crashed in a field.

USAAF Pilot - LeRoy Lutz

LeRoy Lutz

Photo: largemouth86585

I told in a previous article of this blog how this letter led me to write my latest novel, The Legend of Little Eagle.

But now I have found its author. His name is André Mathy and he lives in Epernay, France…

…Time passes by, History is forgotten, but for the old inhabitants of Mardeuil LeRoy Lutz is always a hero whose sacrifice helped avoid civilian casualties in their village. “This story keeps coming to my mind,” said André Mathy.

I have been able to find him, which moves me. For this endpoint in the long story that was the writing of The Legend of Little Eagle highlights a surprising phenomenon on which I return repeatedly – over the reconstruction of the life of my hero who experienced a similar fate to LeRoy Lutz – in this story in which the notion of fate is perhaps the theme: the meaning and weight of stories, as explained in several books by William Kittredge, one of the great writers of Montana. According to him, our lives are ceaselessly intertwined with narrative, with the stories that we tell or hear told, those that we dream or imagine or would like to tell, all of which are reworked in that story of our own lives that we narrate to ourselves in an episodic, somewhat semiconscious, but virtually uninterrupted monologue. We live immersed in narrative (have you noticed?) These stories allow us, according to him, to situate ourselves in the world, and find meaning in our existence in the chaos of life. “We live in stories. We are stories,”  he asserts.

“We tell stories to talk out the trouble in our lives, trouble otherwise so often so unspeakable. It is one of our main ways of making our lives sensible. Trying to live without stories can make us crazy. They help us recognize what we believe to be most valuable in the world, and help us identify what we hold demonic,” Kittredge adds.

Seventeen years ago, when he finally learned about his father’s display of courage, Richard Lutz, LeRoy’s son, declared: “I was twelve years old when my mother told me that my father had died in France. I always thought he was the bravest pilot on earth. But now I know.”

 This book has already had 4.7 stars out of 13 customer reviews on It is a breath-taking novel according to them. The readers did love Florian Rochat’s talent and style. The synopsis made them believe that it was a book on aviation. It is, with many scenes of air combat during John Philip Garreau’s missions over Germany and France. But there is more to it. As mentioned above, it mainly deals with puzzling questions on destiny and fates bound within a same tragic event. However, these readers loved reading this unbelievable story. Air combat is not swept out of sight as the act of gallantry when LeRoy Lutz veered away from the village to save lives is well highlighted. Moreover, the hero amazingly meets with a famous WWII aviator.

Many reviews, and articles have been posted about this book, especially in French since it was first written in French. Here are two of them:

You can read Florian Rochat’s biography on Xavier Cotton’s blog “Passion pour l’Aviation“. Special thanks to Xavier who passed the information on.

“The Legend of Little Eagle” is on sale as an ebook on,,, and, Smashwords and other digital platforms, and as a paperback on all Amazon bookstores. Author’s website:

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Lexique aéronautique L'Anglais pour Voler

Lexique aéronautique L’Anglais pour Voler


Le livre (et CD-Rom) “L’Anglais pour Voler” est devenu une référence de l’anglais aéronautique et à juste titre: les 5000 mots et 1500 abréviations compilés sont présentés à la fois par ordre alphabétique et exprimés dans des chapitres thématiques qui peuvent se révéler un excellent outil d’entraînement pour les aviateurs dans leur quête du FCL .055 pour les personnels navigants et de l’ELPAC (English Language Proficiency for Aeronautical Communication) pour les contrôleurs de circulation aérienne.

Dominique Défossez,ingénieur en chef de la navigation aérienne, contrôleur aérien et titulaire d’une maîtrise d’anglais met régulièrement à jour son lexique et CD interactif “L’Anglais pour Voler” depuis plusieurs années déjà.

Voici une très bonne nouvelle pour ceux qui sont équipés d’Apple en iPhone et iPad qui souhaitent parfaire leur anglais OACI puisque L’Anglais pour Voler est désormais disponible dans une application que vous pouvez découvrir en cliquant à droite sur l’image de la couverture de cette 5ème édition:


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The 5th ICAO Journal dates back to August 2013, and there is a chapter on Language Proficiency Requirements (LPR) in it. The Journal reviews ICAO’s LPRs and other recent initiatives developed, and reported during a technical seminar to support language proficiency in March 2013, and particularly English language testing among Member States.

All the stakeholders were gathered at the seminar. Those who implement the safety-critical language provisions as mandated by Assembly Resolution A32-16 in 1998, and embodied in Annexes 1, 6, 10 and 11, as well as Doc 4444 — PANS-ATM have their work cut out for them!

According to ICAO Convention, Annex 10, Vol.2, “If a pilot, and an air traffic controller don’t speak a common language, the default language is English. Additionally, the flight crew establishes the language to be used.”

The seminar presented an ICAO speech sample training aid. This tool provides examples of ICAO levels 3, 4 & 5. There was a discrepancy among the various ratings given to samples in a workshop. I know that the juries throughout the world have done some good work. However, candidates have already reported differences between juries within a fortnight. The ratings can vary up to almost two ICAO levels. Rating is difficult, and setting a test is difficult as well.

We know now from the journal that EUROCONTROL is developing a Level 6 examination and that EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) might establish a validity period of 9 years for Level 6.

Another initiative is the launch of a new AELTS (Aviation English Language Test Service) website at .

The LPR seminar report is available here:


Further information:


Manual on the Implementation of ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements

Latest news: The MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions) on the aeronautical documents test might be given up in 2014. Therefore, the FCL .055 D might be deleted. The FCL .055 tests VFR and IFR only would be left unchanged ie without the 15-minute MCQ test.

Thanks to Thierry Hermas – English teacher at the French Air Force Academy (FAFA) – who passed the documents on.

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Anglais des Mécaniciens Navigants


Pour obtenir une licence de mécanicien navigant (FEL – Flight Engineer License), tout candidat doit savoir conduire une communication radiotéléphonique entre l’aéronef et toute station radio. Le candidat doit savoir intervenir pour toute phase de vol y compris la transmission d’informations météorologiques.

L’appendice 3 du FCL 4.160 donne le détail de l’utilisation de la langue anglaise pour les mécaniciens navigants commme indiqué ici, sur le site de la DGAC. (cliquez sur le lien)



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ATTENTION le FCL .055 remplace les FCL 1.200 et 1.028 à partir d’AVRIL 2013

Chers lecteurs et abonnés,

Aujourd’hui samedi 30 mars 2013, les examens de radiotéléphonie aéronautique JAA/JAR FCL 1.200 et FCL 1.028 en France n’ont plus que quelques jours à vivre comme vous pouvez le voir sur ce calendrier >>>>>.

Attention toutefois aux dates et aux centres car ce calendrier semble avoir subi déjà quelques modifications comme on peut le découvrir sur le calendrier du site d’inscrition d’OCEANE. A partir du 9 avril 2013, le FCL .055 D remplacera le FCL 1.200 avec un format similaire. Les FCL .055 VFR et IFR remplaceront les FCL 1.028 VFR et IFR.

Des évolutions devraient arriver avec les FCL 1.055 pour les pilotes ou navigants sur avions et FCL 2.055 pour les pilotes d’hélicoptères. Pour l’instant, les informations disponibles sur le site officiel de la DGAC concernant la grille d’évaluation OACI (Organisation de l’Aviation Civile Internationale) sont toujours valables.

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