Colonel Alois Heldmann was a World War I flying ace credited with 15 confirmed aerial victories (plus three unconfirmed) while he was a leutnant. He later joined the nascent Luftwaffe in 1933 and was a flying school inspector through the end of World War II.
Early life and service
Alois Heldmann's native town was Grevenbrück, 100 km eastern from Cologne, where he was born on 2 December 1895. He was studying engineering until the war began. Heldmann joined the Imperial German Army on 3 January 1915, and originally served as an infantryman on the Russian Front. Shortly thereafter, he transferred to aviation duty.
After switching to aviation, Heldmann served in a two-seater aerial reconnaissance unit, FA 57, beginning in August 1915. He then transferred to FA 59, which also operated two-seaters. His Eastern Front duties saw him serve in Serbia and Bulgaria. He then transferred fronts and moved to France. He was a well experienced pilot by the time he was promoted into the officer's ranks in 1917 as a Leutnant. Heldmann joined Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 10 on 24 June 1917 and was given a Pfalz D.III to fly. He would use the Pfalz for his first five wins, beginning 22 July 1917. He then upgraded to a Fokker D.VII, which bore his initials painted on the top wing; its nose was yellow, its tail a checkerboard. He scored steadily throughout the last eight months of the war, with his last victory just five days before war's end. Twice he rose to temporary command of the squadron, from 19 June to 6 July 1918, and from 10 to 14 August. Heldmann survived the war.
Post World War I
Heldmann returned to being an engineer postwar. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1933. Having risen to the rank of colonel, he became an inspector of a flying school. He served through World War II, and was subsequently imprisoned by Allied forces until 1946. He then resided in Bad Aibling, Germany. Alois Heldmann died on 1 November 1983 in his native Grevenbruck.
Honors and awards
World War I
- Iron Cross both First and Second Class
- Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern