50 Years Ago – The Last Pilot Ace
(Well, until Maverick)
By Retired USAF Colonel Paul Carr
From the air battles of Southeast Asia 23 airmen emerged with the title “Ace”. Of those, 17 were North Vietnamese, 1 was Soviet, and 5 were United States airmen. 50 years ago, between May 10 and August 28, 1972 Captain Richard “Steve” Ritchie, Reidsville, NC ‘s native son, became the only United States Air Force pilot to achieve Ace status (*). He will likely be the last.
“Ace” is the title bestowed on those downing 5 enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat. During World War I the press first used the term when referring to French pilot Adolphe […]