Lessons from the life of Oswald Boelcke


Oswald Boelcke (19.05.1891- 28.10.1916) was the first Air Ace in history who died at the relatively young age(25 years) a hundred years ago. He was a Fighter Plane pilot of the German Air Force during the First World War and is credited of becoming the first Air Ace, but whose ultimate score of 40 was surpassed by many.A serious and scholarly person, he was renowned for his humanity and he ensured that enemy pilots were not harmed when he shot down aircraft in war and treated all captive pilots with respect and dignity. He was even honoured by France(an enemy state at the time) for saving a French boy from drowning ,taking a considerable risk.
Boelcke put down a set of seven rules of aerial combat(known as Dicta Boelcke) and took it up on himself in trainig scores of pilots in becoming effective aerial combatants, rather than going on in sorties to increase his personal score. He was, as expected, surpassed by many of his pupils, a fact that has greatly pleased him.
It is unfortunate that this great human being has been forgotten with time. The short but eventful life of Oswald Boelcke has helped me to become a better person, ever since I got to know about this remarkable person in 1990.Hence,the lessons learnt by me are shared with you,on the death centenary Boelcke, as a tribute to him.
The lessons learnt by me are:
1.Be an expert in your chosen profession by diligent learning.
2.Set an example by your own conduct.
3.Be humane to others, including your enemies and adversaries.
4. Treat others with respect and dignity
5. Go to any extra length to help those who are deserving, even if they are your adversaries in life.
6.. Your adversaries in the professional career are not your personal enemies, but could even be good friends in life.
7.Do not work for personal glory and personal gratification, but for a higher purpose and a higher ideal in life.
8.Keep things written down ,for the sake of others.
9.Elicit the principles from your learning, and put them down in simple, easy to understandable manner for the benefit of others.
10.Continuously strive to better yourself in your.
11. Help others, including your students, to excel, if necessary by even sacrificing your personal achievements.
12.Be happy when others, especially your students, excel and exceed you.
14. Be a leader and a team-player, rather than a loner striving after a personal goal.
15.You can be formidable and dangerous, but also can be humble and gracious.
16.Respect is something that is earned by deeds,not demanded and obtained by force

Jagath Gunawardana Attorney-at-law

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Oswald Boelcke

WWI German ace and tactician, 40 kills


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