This Month...

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Henry Farman
Wrights in France
The Channel
Chavez flies Alps
Round Britain Race
Roland Garros
Europe to Egypt
The Men
The Machines
Bibliography & Links

The Willows III 'City of Cardiff' dirigible in which Ernest Willows crossed the English Channel, 4/5 Nov 1910 November 1910: Willows crosses Channel This Month... in 1910 Welsh pioneer Ernest Willows made the first crossing of the English Channel from Britain to France by dirigible. The airship was his Willows III 'City of Cardiff' filled with 32,000 cu.ft. of hydrogen and powered by a 35 hp J.A.P. motor driving twin swivelling propellers. On 4 November Willows and his mechanic, Frank Godden, took off from Wormwood Scrubs at 3.25 pm, flew over central London at about 400 ft, and then headed south-east as night fell. At 2 am the next morning they landed at Douai, 170 miles from London, after 10 hrs. 35 mins in the air. [The first airship crossing of the Channel (from France to Britain) had been made on 16 October 1910 by the Frenchman Baudry.]

Claude Grahame-White takes off from a road adjacent to the White House, 1910 October 1910: Gordon-Bennett Cup This Month... in 1910 British pioneer Claude Grahame-White (left) won the 2nd Gordon-Bennett Cup Race for aeroplanes. The contest took place at Belmont Park, New York on 29 October and was contested by teams from France, USA and Britain. The pilots had to cover a course of 5km 20 times. Flying a Blériot monoplane, Grahame-White averaged 62 mph to complete the course in 1 hr 4 mins. He had fitted a new 100hp engine for the race which created some problems: "...the heat ... made some of the woodwork of the monoplane's body begin to smoulder. I smelt the burning wood as I flew round the course, and saw smoke beginning to blow back," he wrote. "The situation ... was distinctly trying."

Roland Garros poses in front of his Morane-Saulnier monoplane with members of the French garrison at Bizerte having crossed the Mediterranean Sept 1913: la traversée de la Méditerranée This Month... in 1913 young French pilot Roland Garros succeeded in making the first crossing of the Mediterranean Sea by aeroplane. Taking off from Fréjus at 5:47 a.m. on 23 September in a Morane-Saulnier 'H', he experienced engine trouble over Corsica but pushed on, keeping a careful eye on his fuel: "The level of the petrol counted out the last minutes of my endeavour like an hourglass," he wrote. "How would it end? In tragedy or glory?" Fortunately his petrol held out and Garros landed at Bizerte, Tunisia, (left) after 7 h. 53 mins. airborne during which he had covered 450 miles (730 km). Roland Garros was also a keen tennis player and the name of the stadium in which the French Open tennis competition is held now perpetuates his memory. [More]

Evening flight in a Wright Type A - 1908 August 1908: Wilbur Wright in France This Month... in 1908 Wilbur Wright came to France with his Type A to give public demonstration flights. The first was made at a racecourse near Le Mans, on the evening of 8 August: "We beheld the great white bird soar above the racecourse, pass over and beyond the trees from its shed to the winning post of the course," wrote eye-witness Francois Peyret, "When after 1 min 45 secs of flight Wright again touched the ground, while cheers rose from the crowd in the grandstand ... I saw the man who is said to be so unemotional turn pale. He had long suffered in silence; he was conscious that the world no longer doubted his achievements." It was a turning point for early aviation. [More]

Charles Rolls flying at the 1910 Bournemouth International Aviation Meeting. Click for full size image July 1910: Bournemouth Aviation Meeting This Month... in 1910 the Bournemouth International Aviation Meeting took place. Between 11-16 July well-known pilots such as Claude Grahame-White (flying a Farman III), Leon Morane (Blériot XI) and Edmond Audemars (Demoiselle) participated in the various competitions, including a race to the Needles on the Isle of Wight. Morane won many of the prizes, including the speed prize with 56 mph. Sadly Charles Rolls (co-founder of Rolls Royce) was killed on 12 July when his French-built Wright (pictured left) suffered structural failure. A new tailplane he had fitted a few days before broke away as he was pulling out of a steep dive during the spot-landing contest. He was the first Briton to be killed in a flying accident.

Jules Vedrines lands at San Sebastian during the Paris - Madrid race of 1911. Click for full size image! May 1911: the Paris - Madrid race This Month... in 1911 Jules Védrines covered 1197 km (732 miles) to win the Paris - Madrid race flying a 70 hp Morane-Borel. The route took competitors via Angoulême (Dordogne) and San Sebastian (N. Spain). "San Sebastian gave me the impression of a huge spade-cut made in the middle of Mt. Fontarabie," he wrote. "To reach the place to land you had to pass between two mountains which rose up on either side of the pass. And there, right at the bottom, I would find the little beach which served as the landing ground. These mountains ... were black with people. ... I decided to give [the crowd] ... a show.... I was still over the open sea when I cut the ignition. ... A few seconds later, I was busy between the two peaks. I passed really close to one of them ... within stone's throw of the cheering crowd." Védrines went on to win the race on 26 May in a total time of 14 h. 55 m.

Gustav Hamel and Miss Trehawke Davies at Hendon April 1912: first woman to fly the Channel This Month... in 1912 Gustav Hamel flew Eleanor Trehawke Davies to Paris, making her the first woman to cross the English Channel by aeroplane. The pair left Hendon (London) at 9:38 a.m. on 2 April in a two-seater Blériot XI (70 hp Gnôme) and crossed the coast at Dover around 11. Unfortunately, Miss Trehawke Davies failed in her task to ensure the pressure in the petrol system was kept up and the engine stopped in mid-Channel. Luckily Hamel had enough height to glide to a safe landing in a field at Ambleteuse, near Cap Gris Nez. After a further stop on the beach near Boulogne to keep their lunch appointment with Louis Blériot the couple set course for Paris and arrived safely at Issy-les-Moulineaux at 5.55 p.m.

Gustav Hamel March 1911: Hendon - Brooklands This Month... in 1911 the owners of Hendon and Brooklands put up a prize for the fastest return flight between the two London aerodromes. Four pilots attempted the task on 11 March. First off was Clement Gresswell (Blériot XI), but he was forced down by fog near Staines. Next J. V. Martin (G. W. 'Baby') made it to Brooklands, but became hopelessly lost on the return leg, landing at St. Albans 15 miles away before finding Hendon again. Maurice Ducrocq (Farman III) was forced to turn back to Brooklands at Kew by fog. Only Gustav Hamel (Blériot XI) (left) was able to find his way without problems, picking up the prize and making the 40 mile double trip in 49 mins 35 secs.

Hubert Latham February 1905: London - Paris by balloon This Month... in 1905 Jacques Faure and his cousin Hubert Latham (left) flew from London to Paris by balloon. Faure had originally intended to steer the balloon, named the Aéro-Club 2, with twin propellers and a 7 hp engine but in the event a free flight was made. Having inflated the 4,650 cu.ft. envelope, the aeronauts left Crystal Palace at 6:45 pm on 11 February and threw out ballast over Hastings at 8 pm to climb to 3,000 ft. for the Channel crossing. Having crossed Dieppe at 10 pm and seeing the lights of Paris on the horizon, they landed at Saint Denis at about 1 am, after 6 hours in the air. "The record of a London - Paris balloon trip has been made. It is now for others to break it," a justifiably proud Faure told reporters. [More on early ballooning]

Emile Dubonnet January 1912: balloon record This Month... in 1912 Émile Dubonnet (1883-1950) set a new world record for distance in a balloon. With Pierre Dupont he set off from Lamotte-Breuil, near Bordeaux, on 7 January and landed the next day in Sokolowka in what was then western Russia (now Poland). His Condor III balloon had travelled 1954 km (1,213 miles), beating the Comte de La Vaulx's existing 1900 record by a slender 18 miles. Dubonnet (left) was the son of the wealthy distiller Marius Dubonnet, and had previously represented France in the 1908, 1909 and 1911 Gordon-Bennett Cup balloon races and also taken part in aviation contests flying Tellier monoplanes. [More on early ballooning]

Image copyright Joe Gertler December 1912: a winter flight! This Month... in 1912 Pierre Verrier (pilot) and Lt. Gilbert Mapplebeck (passenger) undertook an adventurous winter flight from Hendon to Brooklands. Although the distance between the two London aerodromes was only 20 miles, the flight was made in the teeth of a 45 mph south-westerly gale. Since their Maurice Farman MF.7 "Longhorn" (70 hp Renault) had a top speed of 55 mph, this meant the flight took 2 hr. 10 mins, giving an average ground speed of 9 mph! Clement Gresswell, following them in a car, was forced to stop several times to allow the aeroplane to catch up.
Many thanks to Joe Gertler for allowing me to use Charles Hubbell's beautiful watercolour of Verrier's MF.7: see http://www.memaerobilia.com/hubbellwater.asp for more.

Bleriot VII November 1907: the Bleriot VII This Month... in 1907 experimenter Louis Blériot flew his seventh design of aircraft in 'hops' of 500 metres at Issy near Paris. Despite the short distances covered, the 50 hp Antoinette-powered Blériot VII was to be of fundamental importance to the history of aviation. For the first time it brought together a monoplane layout with a tractor propeller, a fully enclosed fuselage and internally braced wings: a configuration that would be used in thousands of aircraft up to the present day. In the short term the VII was wrecked in landing on 18 December, but from it Blériot went on to develop his Channel-crossing Type XI of 1909.
[More on early Blériot types...]

Henry Farman: the first cross country October 1908: the first cross-country This Month... in 1908 Henry Farman made the first cross-country flight anywhere in the world. On 30 October 1908 he flew the 27 km (17 miles) from his practice field at Bouy to the cavalry ground at Rheims in his modified Voisin biplane. Tall trees were cleared with difficulty, as he recalled: What, I asked myself, am I going to do when I arrive above those large poplars that I can see way over there... Should I pass them on the right? on the left? My indecision does not last long, for I am scarcely 50 yards from the vast high grove. Oh well, here goes! A touch on the elevator and the aircraft rises up rapidly; it goes over, while with an anxious eye I look to see whether I am clearing the tree-tops. [More...]

Georges Chavez flies Alps September 1910: over the Alps This Month... in 1910 Peruvian Georges Chavez made the first flight over the Alps. Starting from Brig in Switzerland, on 23 September, Chavez followed the Simplon Pass reaching an altitude of 6,600 ft. before descending down a rocky gorge to Domodosola in Italy. He was well prepared for the flight - having set a new world altitude record of 8,487 ft. on 8 September. Chavez's intention was to carry on towards Milan to take part in the aviation meeting there. Tragically however his Blériot XI monoplane suffered structural failure just as he was gliding into the landing field at Domodosola. Chavez died of his injuries, and his last words were reportedly, "Arriba, siempre arriba" ('Higher, always higher'), which is now the moto of the Peruvian Air Force. [More...]

Frank McClean - Tower Bridge August 1912: through Tower Bridge This Month... in 1912 Frank McClean piloted a Short S.33 sea plane through Tower Bridge and then underneath every other bridge to Westminster. McClean left the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames Estuary at 6:30 a.m., on 10 August, and came down below 150 ft. near London in order to be out of the smoke from the factory chimneys. Reaching Tower Bridge at 7:50, he 'bounced' his floats going under Blackfriars railway bridge to loud cheers from spectators, and almost grazed his wingtips under Waterloo Bridge. Although prevented by the police from repeating the feat on his return journey, McClean had achieved his aim of beating French pilot André Beaumont in making the first 'hydro-aeroplane' flight to London. In 1914 McClean moved up a notch - flying up the Nile to Khartoum.

Louis Bleriot - Channel flight July 1909: Blériot flies the Channel This Month... in 1909 Louis Blériot made the first aeroplane crossing of the English Channel to win the Daily Mail's 1,000 prize. Despite blustery conditions, poor visibility and the lack of a compass, on 25 July Blériot took off at 4:30 a.m. from a field near Calais and crash landed 37 mins later in Northfall Meadow near Dover Castle (picture left). He flew his 11th design of flying machine, the Blériot XI, powered by a 3-cylinder 25 hp Anzani engine, which gave a cruise speed of about 40 mph. A few days earlier, rival pilot Hubert Latham had made an unsuccessful attempt which ended with a ditching in the Channel. On 29 July, Latham made another attempt in his Antoinette, but luck was not with him as he was forced to ditch a 2nd time within sight of the English coast. [More...]

Grand Prix de l 'Aero-Club de France/Circuit d'Anjou June 1912: Circuit d'Anjou This Month... in 1912 young pilot Roland Garros battled through the elements to win the French Aero-Club's Prix d'Anjou. The race had started on 16 June as the annual Grand Prix de l'Aéro-Club de France over a 190 km (120 mi.) triangular course Angers - Cholet - Saumur, but conditions were so severe that overnight the rules had to be changed and the race shortened in the interests of safety. Of the six starters (who included Gustav Hamel), only two completed the first day's flying. Garros had taken off in a 43 mph (72 kmh) gale, flown through a downpour and been engulfed by a hail storm. Each lap of the course took him about 2.5 hours to complete. "[The] third lap was a sweet relaxation compared to the first two," he recalled. His machine was a lightened 50 hp Gnôme Blériot XI, which was supervised in the field by a team of mechanics led by Louis Blériot in person. On the second day, the weather was kinder and Garros was able to complete a further four laps to claim the 75,000 franc prize. He also cemented his reputation as an excellent pilot and impressed the military with the Blériot's ability to fly in any weather with a heavy load of petrol.

Starting line May 1911: Brooklands - Brighton This Month... in 1911 the first race between Brooklands and Brighton took place, for a prize of 80. On 6 May, Graham Gilmour (flying a Bristol Boxkite) took off, followed by Lt. Snowden-Smith (Farman biplane), Howard Pixton (Avro biplane) and Gustav Hamel (Blériot XI) according to a handicap system devised in advance. The race from London to the south coast was easily won by Hamel who reached the finishing post at the Palace Pier in 57 min. 10 secs. Gilmour came second, taking 1 hr. 37 mins. to cover the 40 miles (a ground speed of 25 mph). Snowden-Smith was disqualified for missing the turning point at Shoreham, and Pixton finished last after getting lost and landing at Plumpton to ask the way.

Breathing apparatus in the Zenith April 1875: The Zenith Tragedy This Month... in 1875 an early balloon ascent was made above 25,000 ft. with sadly fatal results. The Zenith took off from Paris on 15 April 1875 piloted by Théodore Sivel, assisted by Jospeh Crocé-Spinelli and Gaston Tissandier. The balloon rose to an estimated 28,000 ft in an attempt to beat the altitude record set by British aeronauts Henry Coxwell and James Glaisher in 1862. But despite the presence in the Zenith of oxygen apparatus both Sivel and Crocé-Spinelli succumbed to the effects of hypoxia and cold. Only the younger Tissandier returned to earth alive, and the tragedy effectively put an end to this first Victorian phase of engineless high altitude exploration.
[Read Tissandier's account...]

Henri Salmet - Bleriot School instructor March 1912: London - Paris This Month... in 1912 Henri Salmet, the chief instructor of the Blériot Company's School at Hendon, decided to visit Louis Blériot in Paris by air. Despite never having made a cross-country flight before, Salmet (left) set off on 7 March 1912 in windy conditions from London flying his personal Blériot XI. He crossed the coast at Eastbourne and climbed to 6,000 ft (2000 m) to find smoother air. "The sight at that height was most marvellous - I think absolutely the best something I have seen in my life. At that height the clouds were more like big snowy mountains and flying through them was the most curious experience that could happen to anyone. A glance behind showed my wake in a swirl of fog disturbed by the propeller and the passage of the machine," he wrote later for Flight. Salmet descended through clouds near Dieppe to 650 ft (200 m) and (after stopping for directions) flew a compass course to Paris, where he landed on the parade ground at Issy-les-Moulineaux, near the Eiffel Tower. After meeting Blériot he attempted to make the return journey the same day, but was frustrated by strong head-winds. (The first non-stop London-Paris flight had been made by fellow Blériot instructor Pierre Prier in April 1911.)

Generic gas balloon February 1914: Berliner's balloon record This Month... in 1914 engineer Hans Berliner set a new world distance record for gas balloons of 3,053 km (1,897 miles), which remained unbroken until the 1970s. On 8 February he took off from Bitterfeld in Germany, accompanied by Alexander Haase and Arnold Nicolai, in the balloon 'Siemens Schuckert' of 1,680 cu. m. capacity. That night they crossed the Baltic coast, heading for Russia. "Ahead, the lighthouse at Rixhoeft shines ghostly for us, and soon we hear rain showers falling distantly on the sea. At 11 o' clock we leave the mainland and our native coast disappears gradually in the evening mist. Soon we also lose the beacon on the Hela peninsula. Now we are all alone, between water and sky," he wrote. The next day a gale force wind swept the balloon deep into Russia over the Ural Mountains. It finally landed in deep snow near the town of Kirgischan, 150 km west of Jakaterinburg, after 47 hours in the air. Here, the fliers were promptly arrested by Russian secret police as spies and thrown in jail. After 3 months they were able to buy bail for 12,500 gold marks. Berliner returned to Germany in May, where he had been given up for dead; a few weeks later Russia and Germany were embroiled in the 'Great War'.
Berliner's account of the epic flight, in German, can be found at http://home.t-online.de/home/heinrich.scheuermann/ballon.htm
It can be translated (after a fashion) with Babelfish http://world.altavista.com

HMS Africa January 1912: naval experiments This Month... in 1912 Sub-Lt. Charles Samson flew a Short S.38 off the fore-deck of HMS Africa. The battleship, fitted with a 100 ft. wooden take off ramp (left), was moored in the River Medway for the experiment. Samson's aircraft had both floats and wheels, enabling it to land on either water or land. On 10 January 1912, Samson successfully flew off from the ship and landed at the nearby Royal Aero Club flying ground at Eastchurch. It was the first time an aeroplane had been launched from a Royal Navy ship. On 9 May, Samson repeated the feat from HMS Hibernia while she was underway. The first landing on a moving vessel, however, did not take place until 1917.

Bleriot on roof December 1912: Just dropped in ... This Month... in 1912 a French pilot named Manio landed unexpectedly on the roof of a house in Palmer's Green, north London. He was on the last leg of a flight from Paris to Hendon on 7 December when engine trouble forced his Blériot XI down. Fortunately, no one (including the pilot) was hurt. Such an incident had been discussed in the correspondence pages of The Times as early as April 1910:

Sir, -- Motor-cars are bad enough, but they do not come into one's home or garden. With aeroplanes total strangers may drop in, through the roof, for a little chat at any time. I fear the law cannot protect one against such intrusion. If aviation becomes popular I shall have spikes, with long strong prongs, fixed to the chimneys of my house, and the word "Danger" painted in large red letters on a flat part of the roof. If any flying machines come down in my garden I shall send for the police to remove the occupants, whom I shall sue afterwards for any damage to my trees and shrubs.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
H. B. Davey,
Syracuse Lodge, Torquay

(Letters to the Editor, 27.4.1910)

Boxkite over Clifton Suspension Bridge November 1910: Bristol Boxkite demonstration This Month... in 1910 the Bristol Aeroplane Co. publicly demonstrated its new biplane on Durdham Downs in Bristol. The pilot was Maurice Tétard. In blustery conditions on 12 November, a crowd of thousands witnessed Tétard circle the Downs at about 150 ft. and then fly out over the nearby Avon Gorge (left). After the flight he explained (in French) to the Bristol Times & Mirror that "in the upper air he struck many whirlwinds coming from the Avon Gorge. The effect by the gully was to suck him downwards, and this prevented him from attaining any great elevation." Although the 'Bristol Boxkite' was a near copy of the Farman III, its success helped establish aircraft manufacturing in the UK. [More...]

First flight in Britain October 1908: first flight in Britain This Month... in 1908 American Samuel Cody made the first sustained flight in Britain. On 16 October Cody, who had designed and constructed 'British Army Aeroplane No.1', flew it for 1,390 ft. (424 m.) over Farnborough Common. For the historic occassion, Cody had fitted a Union Jack between the tail booms (just visible left). The flight ended in a minor crash when Cody tried to turn the aeroplane to land: "I pulled the steering handle over as hard as I could. Then I faced another bunch of trees right in front of me. Trying to avoid these, I turned the rudder, and it turned rather sharp. The side of the machine struck the ground, and it crumpled up." Cody was unhurt aside from some cuts and bruises.

Adolphe Pégoud September 1913: birth of the loop This Month... in 1913 Russian army officer Lt. Petr Nesterov became the first man ever to 'loop the loop'. The feat was performed at Kiev on 9 September in a Nieuport monoplane. Nesterov was initially placed under arrest for endangering his machine, but when it became clear he was a hero he was promoted! Without knowledge of Nesterov's feat, the manoeuvre was repeated in France by Adolphe Pégoud on 21 September. He was flying a slightly modified Blériot XI (pictured left) in order to demonstrate its safety. Between 25-27 September Pégoud came to England to demonstrate his skills at Brooklands. The visit generated considerable interest in the 'upside-down airman' and was reported in detail by The Times. It also attracted the attention of The Graphic and historian William Claxton.
[More about Aerobatics]

Eugene Lefebvre August 1909: the Rheims Air Meet This Month... in 1909 the first ever international aviation meeting took place near Rheims in France. The event was a huge success with crowds of up to 250,000 witnessing speed, altitude and distance contests. Glen Curtiss set a new world speed record of 52 mph (84 kph), Hubert Latham won the altitude contest with 510 ft. (155 m.) and Henry Farman took the distance prize with a flight of 112 miles (180 km). Meanwhile, Eugène Lefebvre in his Wright (left) amazed the crowds with his trick flying. As one journalist wrote, "In perhaps only a few years to come the competitions of this week may look pathetically small and the distances and speeds may appear paltry. Nevertheless, they are the first of their kind, and that is sufficient." [More about Rheims]

Nieuport II July 1911: the 3rd Gordon Bennett Trophy This Month... in 1911 the 3rd annual Gordon Bennett air race was held at Eastchurch, on the Isle of Sheppey, 40 miles from London. The 94 mile race was won on 1 July by American Charles T. Weymann who flew at an average speed of 78 mph in a Nieuport II (left). Other competitors included Edouard de Niéport, the Nieuport's designer, and Gustav Hamel. Hamel, representing the Royal Aero Club, failed to finish after a wing-tip of his 100 hp Blériot XI brushed the ground at the first turn, throwing him out. "Rising to his feet, he walked about enquiring what had happened, but was quickly persuaded to lie on a stretcher and be carried to the ambulance tent, where it was found he was merely suffering from a slight concussion." The Times, 3.7.11

Circuit of Europe June 1911: The 'Circuit of Europe' This Month... in 1911 the 'Circuit of Europe', a race of 1710 km over a course Paris - Utrecht - Brussels - Calais - London - Paris took place (programme pictured left.) Forty-two pilots started on 18 June but only 8 finished the arduous course two weeks later. Among these was Roland Garros, flying a Blériot XI. Of the spectacular dawn Channel crossing from Calais he wrote, "Left second, in accordance with the overall ranking, and arrived in Dover first of all, after an excellent crossing - and so I assisted in the first invasion of the untouchable territory of old England by a flying squadron..." As in the Paris-Rome race the previous month, Garros finished second and the contest was won by Jean Conneau.

Roland Garros May 1911: Paris to Rome This Month... in 1911 the first Paris - Rome air race took place. The competitors set off on 28 May 1911 via Dijon, Lyon, Avignon, Nice, Genoa, and Pisa on the 910 mile (1465 km) course. Despite being forced to change aeroplanes, Roland Garros (left) led the field most of the way. Jean Conneau of the French Navy also had a difficult race, involving two forced landings and a change of engine. Both pilots flew Blériot XIs. However, when Garros crashed near Pisa Conneau took his chance to come from behind and win the race. He was mobbed when he arrived in Rome on the morning of 31 May, after 28 h, 5 min in the air. André Frey and René Vidart came 3rd and 4th.

Grahame-White April 1910: the London to Manchester race This Month... in 1910 Englishman Claude Grahame-White and Frenchman Louis Paulhan competed to win the Daily Mail 10,000 prize for the first flight from London to Manchester. The race, which took place over 27-28 April, included the first night flight in Britain, as the fliers attempted to use every ploy to gain an advantage over the other. Both flew virtually identical Farman III biplanes and received technical assistance from Henry Farman himself. The race generated immense public interest and inspired numerous similar races across Europe in 1911.
[Read a full account]

Short S.70 March 1914: Frank McClean flies up the Nile This Month... in 1914 a British team of three, led by Frank McClean, reached Khartoum in the Sudan after a flight of over 1,500 miles up the River Nile. They flew a specially designed Short S.70 sea-plane with a 140 h.p. Gnôme. The flight was not without several mishaps, which required some ingenuity to overcome. On 19 February McClean recorded, "... boxed the broken spar with iron chiselled from the galley floor of a steamer. Hoop iron from biscuit boxes used as strappings, sugar boxes converted into three ply interspar ribs. New wing covering made from calico doped with Assyrian glue." Khartoum was finally reached on 22 March after an exhausting 12 week flight.[Read a full account]

Generic balloon Feb. 1906/07: C. F. Pollock crosses the Channel This Month... in 1906 and 1907 balloonist C. F. Pollock crossed the English Channel from Britain to continental Europe. Although the winter weather grounded many, it brought the north winds needed to make the flight from England possible. On 3 Feb. 1906 Pollock flew with Mr Dale, a fellow member of the Aero Club, from Wandsworth in a balloon called the Vivienne III to the French coast near Dieppe. The next year, he repeated the performance by piloting The Hon.-Mrs Harbord in her balloon, the Nebia, on 21 Feb. 1907 from Chelsea to Stavelot in Belgium. The 1906 flight took 3 hr. 20 mins. but the 1907 lasted over 10 hrs. On both occasions the voyagers landed in violent snowstorms. Pollock was awarded the Aero Club's silver medal in 1911.

Henry Farman Jan. 1908: the first kilometre flight in Europe This Month... in 1908 sportsman Henry Farman won the 50,000F. Archdeacon-Deutsch Prize for the 'first' kilometre circuit in an aeroplane (left). He flew a Voisin. At this time there was still widespread scepticism of the Wright brothers' achievements, and so Farman was hailed a hero following his flight of 13 Jan. 1908. The London Times declared, "to-day has been an epoch making date, that of the victory before official witnesses of human intelligence in its efforts to solve the problem which brought Icarus to grief, [and] which tormented the brain of Leonardo da Vinci...". (Full report) In fact the Wrights had made a similar flight as early as 1904.

Tommy Sopwith Dec. 1910: Sopwith wins the de Forest prize This Month... in 1910 young pilot Tommy Sopwith won the £4,000 Baron de Forest Prize for the longest flight before the year's end from England to the Continent. On 18 Dec. 1910 in his Howard-Wright biplane (left) he flew 169 miles (272 km) to Beaumont in Belgium. Although the weather was fine in Kent it was unsettled on the other side of the Channel, as Sopwith later recalled, "Soon I crossed the Belgian frontier and it got so rough I was nearly thrown out, but hung on with one hand under the seat. We had no seat belts in those days; nor did we have such luxuries as an airspeed indicator. The only instruments were a rev. counter which worked, a compass which did not and a barograph ... reading only to 2,000 feet." Sopwith returned by steamer.


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