Aristides Moraitinis (aviator)

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Aristides Moraitinis was a pioneer Greek aviator of the early part of the 20th century.

Moraitinis was born in 1891. He entered the Greek Naval Academy and graduated in 1910, joining the Hellenic Navy with the rank of ensign. During the First Balkan War (1912 - 1913), Moraitinis volunteered to join the newly-established Greek Air Force which was formed at Moudros, Lemnos.

On January 24, 1913, he participated with Michail Moutousis in the first ever wartime naval aviation mission, flying a Maurice Farman hydroplane over the Nagara point where they spotted the Turkish fleet. During their sortie, the two men accurately drew a diagram of the positions of the retreating fleet, against which they successfully managed to drop four bombs. Moutoussis and Moraitinis travelled over 180km and took 2 hours 20 minutes to complete their mission, which was extensively reported in both the Greek and International Press.

After the Balkan Wars, Moraitinis entered the newly-formed Aviation Academy formed near Eleusis, Attica. He soon became an instructor of the academy. However, financial difficulties and an epidemic nearly wiped out the Aviation Academy which was re-formed in part thanks to the arrival of four Henry Farman F22s.

At the end of 1916, this squadron was moved to the island of Thassos and was attached to the British Naval Airforce, flying a number of missions against the Ottoman Navy. Greece officially joined the First World War in 1917 and received better-quality aircraft from the British. Moraitinis led many missions against the Turks and Germans and, by the end of WW I, had nine confirmed kills to his credit. He was decorated by the Greek and British governments.

On December 22, 1918, during a flight from Thessaloniki to Athens, Moraitinis was caught up in a violent storm. His body was found, several days later, amid the wreckage of his plane near the summit of Mt Olympus.