Charles Brown and Franz Stigler's Aerial Bromance
U.S. Air Force
Charles Brown was a B-17 pilot during World War II tasked with dropping thousands of pounds of munitions on Nazi territories, or, in other words, not the most beloved man in Germany at the time. So in December 1943, after a sudden attack that wounded half of his crew and left their plane virtually defenseless over enemy terrain, it seemed like things couldn't get worse for the American airmen, which of course they immediately did.
"Good grief." -2nd Lt. Brown.
As Brown attempted to maintain control of the aircraft, he took a quick glance out the window. To his dismay, he saw a German Messerschmitt piloted by 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler, an ace fighter out on an extended revenge spree to avenge his brother August, who was killed early in the war by American pilots. Resigned to his fate, Brown looked his would-be-executioner in the eyes as he ... gave Brown a friendly nod and escorted his aircraft to safety. What the fuck?
The minute Franz Stigler heard the B-17 engine sputtering over his airbase, he had every vengeful intention of putting a million lead suppositories into its butthole, which would also round up his high score and earn him the German equivalent of the Medal of Honor. But when he maneuvered his plane for the kill shot, it became apparent that Brown and his crew were incapable of putting up any resistance. Their plane was riddled with holes, their gunner was dead and the survivors were all huddled in the flying steel coffin tending to their wounds.
Also, observed but unconfirmed: American airplane ghosts.
To Stigler, to kill them wouldn't only be unfair; it would be equal to murder, which was unacceptable for the German pilot who lived by the warrior code of honor. And so, he began to fly in formation with the bomber, tricking German anti-air crews below into thinking that it was one of their own captured B-17s. He did this until they reached the North Sea, at which point Stigler gave the grateful Americans one last salute and returned back to base. Brown eventually landed safely in Allied territory.