Having served in the French army for several years, Pègoud was discharged from service on 13 February 1913. Pursuing an interest in aviation, he obtained a civilian Pilot's Brevet on 1 March 1913. On 19 August 1913, he became the first man in Europe to descend from an aircraft in a parachute. Less than a month later, he became the first pilot to perform a loop and, during World War I, he was the first French pilot to score five victories. The first ace to be killed in aerial combat, Pègoud was shot down by a German two-seater piloted by his former student, Unteroffizier Kandulski.
The State, Columbia, South Carolina, Friday morning, 17 Sep 1915
"Adjudant reservist of an aviation group; has pursued enemy planes on several occasions. On 5 February 1915, he attacked a scout from a short distance causing it to fall; immediately afterwards, he attacked two two-seaters causing the first to fall and forcing the second to land." Médaille Militaire citation, 17 February 1915
Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur
"Sous Lieutenant (Reserve) of Escadrille MS49, with a spirit and bravery beyond words; also a modest and skilful pilot, who has never ceased since the start of the war to put his marvelous aptitudes to the service of his country. Accumulating daily the traits of courage and audacity, he has attacked heavily armed planes alone countless times. On 28 August 1915, during the course of an aerial duel, his plane was riddled by bullets and he was forced to land and immediately took every means available to save his plane in spite of intense German fire." Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur citation, 28 August 1915