A little Holiday show for everyone. On 20 December 1943, Franz met the B-17 bomber named “Ye Olde Pub” and its pilot Charles “Charlie” Brown for the first time. Franz had shot down two B-17s earlier that day and he soon caught up to a wounded B-17 flown by Charles Brown.
Lining up to finish the bomber and shoot it down, he noticed the tail gunner never moved the guns. Upon further inspection of the airplane, he saw through large holes in the fuselage a frantic crew trying to save the lives of their fellow airmen.
Franz is quoted as saying “and for me it would have been the same as shooting at a parachute”, in reference to a statement by his commander and mentor Gustav Rödel; “If I hear of one of you shooting a man in a parachute, I’ll shoot you myself!”. Stigler motioned to Brown to land his airplane in neutral Sweden because of the extensive damage. However, Brown didn’t understand, and decided to keep flying towards England. Stigler escorted the B-17 and its crew to the North Sea coast, protecting it from German anti-aircraft gunners.