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Edmonton war hero remembered 100 years after ‘Red Baron’s’ final air fight

Click to play video: 'Red Baron’s Last Flight' Red Baron’s Last Flight
WATCH ABOVE: A fateful fight in the skies over France 100 years ago left a Canadian fighter pilot a hero. Albert Delitala tells us about the Edmonton connection to the historic event – Apr 22, 2018

One century after a fateful flight over the skies of France that left Germany without its “Red Baron,” the life and accomplishments of an Edmonton war hero are being recognized.

On April 21st, 1918, the WWI flying ace known as the Red Baron took to the skies for the last time, after being credited with 80 combat victories.

On that day, Edmontonian Wilfred Reid “Wop” May was fired upon by the Red Baron or Baron Manfred von Richthofen during a dogfight.

Fortunately for May, his flight commander, Roy Brown, swooped in and fired at von Richthofen. The Red Baron’s plane was eventually shot down, although it remains unclear who was responsible.

READ MORE: Alberta Aviation Museum honours 2 pioneering women in aviation

The Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton honoured May on Saturday, inviting his son, Denny May, to speak about his father’s accomplishments.

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“One hundred years ago today no one knew who (my dad) was. The next day, he became a hero,” May said.

For the museum, Denny May’s involvement is considered invaluable.

“Having a connection like Denny May who can come in and talk first-hand about what his father told him and all those stories, and have him come in and bring that history alive is huge,” said Zena Conlin, a spokesperson for the Alberta Aviation Museum.

READ MORE: At 97, a WWII veteran finally receives medals he didn’t know he earned over 70 years ago

May’s novice flying skills helped give him an edge in his aerial flight with The Red Baron, according to his son.

May shot down at least 13 enemy aircraft during the First World War, earning him a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery.

He went on to advance aviation in Alberta and northern Canada.

May launched an airline with his brother, called May Airplanes Ltd., and was one of the main people behind the construction of Blatchford Field.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Blatchford area could see residents begin moving in by 2019

During the Second World War, he helped train thousands of Commonwealth aircrew.

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“Growing up, I never thought much about it. He was just my dad,” said May. “It wasn’t until later on that I realized how much he had done and how much he had done in the world.”

 

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Wilfred Reid "Wop" May is shown in an airplane. Provided: Denny May
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One of Wilfred Reid "Wop" May's medals.
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One of Wilfred Reid "Wop" May's medals. Provided: Denny May
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Wilfred Reid "Wop" May was awarded the Medal of Freedom. Provided: Denny May
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A photo of Wilfred Reid "Wop" May in one of his airplanes. Provided: Denny May
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A photo of Wilfred Reid "Wop" May. Provided: Denny May
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A photo of Wilfred Reid "Wop" May. Provided: Denny May

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