Last revised: April 3, 2023
Andrew Mamedoff was a daredevil, pilot, and war hero who grew up in Thompson, Connecticut. A penchant for danger followed him through a tumultuous youth and led him to crave airborne excitement. It was this same drive for adventure that lured Mamedoff to Europe in search of combat and resulted in his becoming one of the first Americans to join England’s Royal Air Force.
From Airshows to World War II Fighter Pilot
Born in Warsaw, Russian Empire (today, Poland) in 1912, Mamedoff grew up in Thompson, Connecticut. He attended local schools before enrolling at Bryant College (now Bryant University) in Rhode Island. While at Bryant he earned a reputation for reckless behavior and got expelled from school on numerous occasions before he finally graduated in 1932.
A passion for speed led him to obtain a pilot’s license. Mamedoff purchased his own plane and established a charter service in Miami, Florida, and then southern California, while also performing as a daredevil at local airshows.
Seeking greater excitement, Mamedoff headed to Europe to fight for Finland in their war against Russia but arrived just as the conflict came to an end. He then headed to France to enlist with the French Air Force in the battle against the Nazis. Unfortunately for Mamedoff, the German invasion of France created chaos in the French Air Force—which shipped Mamedoff from base to base without ever assigning him to a squadron or an aircraft.
Flight Commander of RAF Eagle Squadron Flies to His Fate
The eventual fall of France to the Nazis prompted Mamedoff to leave for England. There, in September of 1940, Mamedoff (along with his friends Eugene Tobin and Vernon Keough) became the first Americans to join the Royal Air Force (RAF). He became a member of the newly-formed No. 71 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire. This unit later took the name, the “Eagle Squadron.”
On August 1, 1941, the RAF reassigned Mamedoff to the 133rd Eagle Squadron and made him a Flight Commander. Just over two months later, Mamedoff and the 133rd undertook a transit flight in bad weather from Fowlmere Airfield to RAF Eglinton in Northern Ireland, but Mamedoff never arrived at his destination. A search later discovered Mamedoff’s body and the wreckage of his plane near Maughold on the Isle of Man. Authorities blamed Mamedoff’s death on the bad weather.