Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader (February 10, 1910 - September 5, 1982), was a successful fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Bader is upheld as an inspirational leader and hero of the era, not least because he fought in spite of having both legs amputated.
Bader joined the RAF as a Cranwell cadet in 1928. On December 14, 1931 he attempted some low flying acrobatics in a Bristol Bulldog fighter, apparently as part of a dare. The tip of the left wing of the plane touched the ground, causing it to crash. Following the accident Bader had both legs amputated one above and one below the knee. He left the RAF, but, equipped with artificial legs, he learned to fly again.
Upon the outbreak of war in 1939, Bader used his Cranwell connections to re-join the RAF, in spite of his disability. During the Battle of Britain he commanded a wing of fighters based at Duxford and as a close friend of Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory was an active agent in the Big Wing controversy. Later, he was to lead a series of offensive fighter sweeps known as CIRCUS operations over France. By the summer of 1941, Bader had shot down 23 German planes, the fifth-most prolific record in the RAF. On August 9, 1941 Bader collided mid-air with a German ME 109 over Le Touquet. He was captured by German forces and sent to a number of POW camps and was finally despatched to the Colditz prison. He remained there until the end of the war apart from an alleged covert return to England in 1942. (See The Bader Enigma Website) http://pages.zdnet.com/hookares/royal-navy-medic-1945/
Bader was knighted in 1976.
A movie of his flying career, Reach For the Sky was made in 1956 and starred Kenneth More as Bader.