Washington, May 5 : A new study has claimed that much of the success of Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, a German flying ace of World War I, better known as the Red Baron, was due to plain old luck.
Richthofen racked up 80 official air combat victories-the biggest winning streak on either side-before being shot down on April 21, 1918, over northern France.
But now, a study published in the Journal of Mathematical Sociology, has claimed that much of Richthofen's success could be chalked up to plain old luck.
German records list 2,894 WWI fighter pilots, who together scored 6,759 victories (planes shot down) and only 810 defeats.
Although the win ratio seems suspiciously high, electrical engineers Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury of the University of California, Los Angeles, contend they can still use the numbers to analyze the pilots' defeat rate-their total chances of being shot down after each flight.
That rate started off high-25 percent for the first flight-but fell sharply.
By the 10th flight, it had leveled off below 5 percent, consistent with the weaker pilots getting picked off and the remaining aces having similar skills in the air.
At that rate, the researchers concluded that the odds of one in 2,894 pilots racking up an 80-win streak are about 30 percent, which is not so remarkable after all.