On 22 November 1904, Fulco Ruffo di Calabria joined the 11th Foggia Light Cavalry Regiment. After serving in Africa, he returned to Italy and transferred to aviation in 1914. Flying the Nieuport 11, Nieuport 17 and SPAD VII, he engaged in 53 aerial combats and was credited with 20 victories. Upon the death of Francesco Baracca, Ruffo di Calibria assumed command of 91a Squadriglia but was later relieved by Ferruccio Ranza when he suffered a nervous breakdown. Returning to duty, he assumed command of 10th Gruppo on 23 October 1918 but less than a week later, he was shot down by artillery fire near Marano.
By virtue of her marriage to Prince Albert in 1959, Ruffo di Calibria's granddaughter Paola became Queen of Belgium in 1993.