Pilot Makes Unauthorized Flight Through The Arc De Triomphe, 1919
Charles Godefroy is seen making history as he pilots his Nieuport 11 “Bébé” through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on August 7th, 1919. Godefroy's spectacular feat was arranged by aviators and performed as a protest of airmen being ordered to participate on foot during the victory parade three weeks earlier. The unauthorized stunt was captured on both film and video by journalist Jacques Mortane, though public screening was banned by police, fearing encouragement of repeat performances.
In addition to flying through the Arc, Godefroy also passed extremely low over a public tram on an avenue, with frightened passengers throwing themselves out into the ground and pedestrians running for cover. The spectacle was over in 30 minutes, with Godefroy landing at a nearby airfield and walking away, hoping to remain unknown. His identity would ultimately be discovered, with the war veteran given only a warning. Even that wouldn't be necessary, as Godefroy gave up flying permanently thereafter, retiring in relative anonymity to his winery in Aubervilliers.
Fun Fact: The flight through the Arc was intended to be performed on the day of the victory parade (July 14), but the original flyer chosen, ace fighter pilot Jean Navarre, was killed during a practice flight on July 10.