Famed WWII Pilot Who Flew Through Eiffel Tower Died

William Overstreet Jr., a World War II fighter pilot who in 1944 famously flew his P-51C Mustang through the arches of the Eiffel Tower while in pursuit of a German Messerschmitt Bf 109G aircraft, died at a hospital in Roanoke, Va., on Dec. 29, reported the local paper. He was 92. The cause of his death was not immediately clear, according to various press reports. The famous flight was said to have inspired French Resistance fighters on the ground in Nazi-occupied Paris at the time. “He figured I’d try to get around and he’d have time to get away. He was wrong,” Overstreet once said in an interview posted on NPR. “I was right behind him, right under the Eiffel Tower with him. And when he pulled up, I did get him. But that’s a huge space. That’s not close at all. It’s plenty of room to go under the Eiffel Tower, but it makes a good story.” Overstreet was awarded many medals for his service in the US Army Air Forces 357th squadron, but one of his “greatest honors” was receiving France’s Legion of Honor during a D-Day memorial ceremony in 2009, at the age of 88, states the paper. During the ceremony, the French ambassador said Overstreet led “some of the most heroic actions that we have ever heard of” during the liberation of France in WWII, reported The Roanoke Times. He was preceded in death by his wife Nita Brackens.