The World at War

FRENCH AVIATION - Before the Great War 1783 - 1914

FRENCH AVIATION - Before the Great War Timeline

1783June 4 The Montgolfier Brothers make the first public demonstration of a model hot-air balloon. Their 800 cubic meter balloon takes off from Annonay rises to a height of 1,000 meters, and traverses a distance of two kilometers.
August 27 Jacques Alexandre Charles flies a balloon 4 meters in diameter over the Champ-de-Mars which lands at Gonesse, north of Le Bourget.
September 19 The Montgolfier Brothers conduct a test at Paris in the presence of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The 1400 cubic meter balloon carries a sheep, a duck and a cockerel to demonstrate that it is possible to survive in the sky. It rises to a height of 500 meters and traverses 3 kilometers.
November 21 Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, a science teacher, and the Marquis d'Arlandes, an infantry officer, become the first humans to make an untethered air flight. They pilot a 2,200 cubic meter balloon constructed by the Montgolfiers and propelled by an iron furnace on a 25 minute, 9 km flight at an altitude of 900 meters over Paris.
December 1 Jacques Alexandre Charles flies over the Tuileries in Paris with Marie-Noel Robert in front of 400,000 people. They landed at Nesles-la-Vallée. Charles left again alone and ascended up to 3,000 meters.
1851Jules Verne publishes his first novel Drama in the Air which takes place in a balloon.
1858Journalist, cariacaturist, photographer and painter, Nadar takes the first aerial photographs from a tethered balloon.
1859France and Austria are at war. There is a brief attempt to use air-filled balloons during the Italian campaign but the results were unsuccessful because the balloons would not stay aloft long enough.
1863Jules Verne’s novel Five Weeks in a Balloon is published. October 9
The first flight of the Giant, a 6,000 cubic meter balloon built by Nadar born Félix Tournachon, takes off from the Champ-de-Mars and ends near Meaux. The photographer intends to provide public flights to pay expenses and earn money.
October 18 The Giant leaves Paris with nine passengers. It covers 600 km in 16 hours and lands in Hanover where it drags the ground for another 16 km. The Giant flew again in Brussels, Lyon, Amsterdam and Paris but the money earned was not enough to cover the expenses.
1865Jules Verne bases Michael Ardan, the main character of his novel From Earth to the Moon, on real life photographer and aerial enthusiast Nadar.
1867Henri Giffard installs a 5,000 cubic meter tethered gas balloon at the Paris World’s Fair. The Empress Eugenie is among the thousands to take their first flight in Giffard’s balloon.
1870September 21 Nadar suggests that it might be possible to operate a balloon postal service above the heads of the Prussian troops surrounding Paris. To demonstrate the feasibility of his idea, Nadar launches his balloon from the besieged city and showers the enemy with leaflets denouncing them for barbarism in attacking Paris, the capital of civilization.
September 23 The French Post Office accepts Nadar’s suggestion that balloons should be used to communicate with the outside world and with the provisional government at Tours. Jules Durouf departs Place Saint Pierre in Montmartre in Le Neptune with 103 kilograms of mail. He lands safely 3 hours and 15 minutes later at the Chateau de Craconville. Durouf drops visiting cards on the enemy position as he flies above the reach of enemy guns during the flight.
October 7 Interior Minister Léon Gambetta and his chief assistant Charles de Freycinet escape from Paris to Montdidier by balloon. They eventually reach Tours by rail and establish a delegation of the Government of National Defense.
October 25 Prussian cavalry and telegraph services track of the movement of the balloon Montgolfier during a flight from Paris to Alsace. The Montgolfier is surrounded and captured upon landing.
October 27 The Paris Siege balloon Normandie is captured by the Prussians after landing near Verdun.
November The Government of National Defense decrees that balloon must only leave Paris by night after rumors of that the Prussians possess a special anti-aircraft gun
November 28 A young sailor called “Prince” take off from Paris in the balloon Jacquard. At dawn he found himself above the English Channel. Passing over the Lizard Light, Prince dropped his dispatches to the lighthouse keeper. He then blew out to sea, and was never seen again.
1871January 28 The last balloon leaves Paris carrying news that an armistice has been signed with the Prussians. A total of 66 balloons left Paris during the siege. 58 landed safely. Balloons could not be controlled. They landed at unexpected locations. Two aeronauts were lost at sea and six where captured when they landed in enemy territory. The balloon Ville d’Orleans drifted 1,287 kilometers in 15 hours before its two aeronauts landed in Norway. 102 people, more than 500 pigeons, and five dogs escaped Paris by air during the siege and more than two million pieces of mail were delivered to places as far away as Tours, 201 kilometers to the southwest of Paris.
1874The French Government establishes a Commission des Communications Aeriennnes.
1877A military aeronautical establishment is established under the direction of Charles and Paul Renard.
1878July 10 - November 4
Henri Giffard anchors the world’s largest balloon in the garden of the Tuileries during the World’s Fair. It contains 25,000 cubic meters of pure hydrogen, is 36 meters in diameter and 55 meters in height. The gondola, 6 meters in diameter, and lift 50 passengers up to 600 meters during each flight. 35,000 passengers are carried aloft without any noticeable incident.
1880Paris becomes the birthplace of the aeronautical industry with the balloon works of Henri Lachambre in Vaugirard, of Gabriel Yon and Louis Godard’s son in the Champ-de-Mars, and finally of Brissonnet in Noisy.
1881Brazilian Júlio César Ribeiro de Souza makes a successful controlled flight over Paris in an asymmetric fusiform dirigible with lifting surfaces.
1884Improved versions of balloons are used for bombing in the French capture of Dien Bien Phu near the Vietnam-Laos border.
1890October 9 Clément Ader flies a distance of 50 meters in his steam-powered, bat-winged monoplane the Eole on a friend's estate near Paris. The engine proves unsuitable for sustained and controlled flight. However, it is the first demonstration of a manned heavier than air machine taking off from level ground under its own power.
1897October 14 Clément Ader makes a disputed claim to completion of a 300 meter flight in his Avion III, a batwinged monoplane powered by two steam engines.
1898September 12 The Aéro Club de France is established as the first aeronautical institution in the world.
1901July 13 Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont circles the Eiffel Tower in his No.5 dirigeable but then crashes at Boulogne.
August 8 Santos-Dumont experiences a second failure when his airship snags a chimney on the Rue de Passy, Paris.
October 19 Alberto Santos-Dumont wins the 100,000 franc Deutsch-de-la-Meurthe Prize awarded to the first person to fly an airship from Saint Cloud around the Eiffel Tower and back to Saint Cloud in under 30 minutes.
December 7 Captain Ferdinand Ferber makes a flight of about 15 meters in his glider No.4 at Nice.
1902January 16 Captain Debureau informs the Academy of Sciences of his intent to revive Commandant Hourst’s proposed crossing of the Sahara by balloon from Gabès, Tunisia to a point in the Sudan 2,500 kilometers away.
May 12 The dirigeable Pax explodes during a test flight over Paris killing the Brazilian aeronaut Augusto Severo and his mechanic, Georges Saché.
August 15 Léon Levavasseur signs a contract with industrialist Jules Gastambide to produce an airplane equipped with an ultralight engine.
1903June 30 At the request of Captain Ferdinand Ferber, Ernest Archdeacon launches an appeal to the Aéro-Club to fund a prize for the longest distance flow by a glider.
September 28 Henry de La Vaulx pilots his airship Paris to Hull, England.
November 12 The Lebaudy brothers establish a distance record for dirigeables by flying 61 kilometers between Moissons and Paris.
1904September 24 L’Aéro-Club sponsors a contest with a prize of 1,500 to the first airplane to fly 100 meters against a headwind. Furthermore the straight line deviation between the takeoff and landing points shall not exceed 17 centimeters.
October 1 Robert Esnault-Pelterie, inventor of the aileron, experiments with his glider on Wissant beach near Boulogne. He reports that the use of wing warping to maintain transverse equilibrium is too dangerous.
1905February 12 French aéronaute Jacques Faure and his cousin Hubert Latham land at Aubervilliers on the balloon Aéro-Club II. Their flight which began at London’s Crystal Palace is the first crossing of the English Channel by air.
May 27 The first military airfield in Europe opens at Chalais-Meudon. Captain Ferdinad Ferber makes a successful flight in his aéroplane No.6.
June 8 Gabriel Voisin makes a 15 meter flight at an altitude of 150 meters in a floating glider he built with Ernest Archdeacon. The plane is lifted to takeoff from the Seine by a motorboat.
During the Year The Aéro Club de France joins seven other national clubs to create the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (International Aeronautical Federation).
Voisin Brothers establishes the world’s first aircraft factory at Billancourt.
1906March 18 Romanian engineer Trajan Vuia makes a succeful flight of 12 meters in the first monoplane equipped with pneumatic tires from a field near Montesson.
September 13 Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont begins testing his airplane No.14b in Paris. He rolls 150 meters before leaving the ground for a flight of 7 meters.
September 30 The first Coupe Aèronautique Gordon Bennett international gas balloon race is launched from the Tuileries Gardens in Paris before a crowd of 200,000 spectators. Americans Frank P. Lahm and Henry Hersey claim the cup with a winning distance of 402 miles.
October 23 Brazilian Alberto Santos Dumont makes a 60 meter flight at an altitude of 4 meters in his airplane 14b near the Pont de Puteaux.
1907May 29 American aviator Wilbur Wright arrives in Paris.
August 21 American aviator Wilbur Wright takes off from the Camp d’Auvours airfield placed at his disposal by the Army. September 17
After a flight of 184 meters, Louis Blériot crash lands his aéroplane VI at a speed in excess of 80 Km/h and is lifted 15 meters off the ground.
September 21 Louis Bréguet and Charles Richet introduce their gyroplane at a meeting of the Academy of Sciences in Paris.
October 15 Henri Farman breaks Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont’s European record for distance flown with a flight of 380 meters.
October 26 Henri Farman makes a flight of 771 meters in 52 seconds.
December 31 American aviator Wilbur Wright is awarded the Michelin Cup for distance flying. Later that evening Wright gives Minister Louis Barthou his first airplane ride.
During the Year La Première Etape de l'Aviation militaire en France (The First Stage of the Military aviation in France) by Clément Ader is published.
1908March 28 Léon Delagrange pilots the first airplane flight to carry a passenger. He takes Henri Farman for a ride on his Voisin.
July 6 Henri Farman wins the 10,000 franc Armengaud Prize for a flight in excess of a quarter hour at Issy-les-Moulineaux. Louis Blériot enters his monoplane in the contest but remains airborne for only 8 minutes 23 seconds.
July 8 Léon Delagrange, on tour in Milan, carries the first woman airplane passenger, Frenchwoman Thérèse Peltier.
October 10 Paul Painlevé accompanies Wilbur Wright on an 80 kilometer airplane flight.
October 29 A new airship, the Clément-Bayard, flies around Paris at an altitude of 220 meters.
October 30 Henri Farman completes the first city to city airplane flight in history from Camp de Châlons at Bouy to Reims. He covers the 27 kilometers in 20 minutes at an altitude of 50 meters at an average speed of 81 km/h.
1909April 20 L'Aéro-Club de France is declared a public utility.
May 3 Louis Barthou is injured during a rapid balloon landing.
May 23 The Port Aviation aérodrome at Viry Châtillon near Juvisy is inaugurated in the presence of 20,000 spectators.
June 12 Louis Blériot makes the first airplane flight with two passengers, Alberto Santos-Dumont andt André Fournier, in his monoplan No. XII.
July 2 L'Aéro-Club de France establishes a code for aerial navigation.
July 19 Hubert Latham attemps to cross the English Channel by airplane ditches in the sea after 18 kilometers.
July 25 Louis Blériot becomes the first person to successfully cross the English Channel in an airplane. He departs Calais at 4:35 a.m. in a Blériot-XI, a 25 horsepower monoplane of his own design and lands at Dover Castle 37 minutes later to claim the £1,000 prize offered by the London Daily Mail.
July 28 100,000 Parisians escort Blériot from the Gare du Nord to the Champs Elysées.
August 23 The Clément-Bayard dirigeable crashes in the Seine.
August 28 La Grande Semaine d’Aviation (The Reims International Air Meet) is the occasion of a number historic achievements. American Glenn Curtiss wins the James Gordon Bennett Cup and $5,000 for the fastest average speed flown over a 20 kilometer closed course. Henri Farman wins the distance competition by fly 111.8 miles in 3 hours 4 minutes and 56 seconds. Hubert Latham wins the altitutde competition by climbing to height of 155 meters.
September 7 Eugène Lefebvre is the first aviator killed while flying over Europe. His French built Wright Flyer type A crashes at 6:45 p.m. on test flight near Juvisy.
November 19 Hubert Latham sets a new altitiude record of 410 meters at the Châlons military camp.
During the Year L'Aviation militaire (Military Aviation) by Clément Ader is published. Ader posits the theory that military application of the airplane will shorten future wars. "This new weapon will be very frightening, nevertheless war itself will become less fatal, one will see the end of the horrible spectacle of the people being massacred in them and for that reason alone, for the sake of humanity, this weapon is to be wished in all countries"
1910January 4 An aviation rally organized to mark the inauguration of the Croix d’Hins airfield at Bordeaux is marred by several accidents including one which results in the death of Léon Delagrange.
March 28 A flying boat invented by Marseillais engineer Henri Fabre makes its first flight around the étang de Berre, near Marseilles.
March Elise Deroche (aka Baroness Raymonde de la Roche) becomes the first French woman licensed to pilot an airplane.
May 18 The first international conference on aerial navigation opens in Paris.
June 9 Two military pilots return to Vincennes from Châlons-sur-Marne in record time on board a Farman biplane. The General Staff is convinced of the usefulness of the airplane.
August 7 The six stage, 782 kilometer, Circuit Aérien de l’Est (Aerial Race of the East), sponsored by Le Matin begins. August 17
Alfred Le Blanc, victor in the Circuit Aérien de l’Est, receives a triumphal welcome to Paris after 12 hours and 56 seconds of flight.
September 8 Peruvian aviator Jorge Chavez reaches a record altitude of 2,587 meters at Issy-les-Moulineaux.
October 1 Funeral services are held in Paris for Peruvian aviator Jorge Chavez, who died four days after a crash which followed his successful flight across le Simplon in the Alps.
October 15 The Aeronautical Salon opens in Paris.
1911April 12 The first nonstop airplane flight between London and Paris is flown.
May 21 Roland Garros and Jules Védrines race from Paris to Madrid with a stop at Angoulême.
June 21 Edouard Nieuport attains a speed of 133.35 km/h at Châlons.
September 4 Roland Garros breaks the world altitude record by ascending to a height of 3,910 above Saint Malo on board a Blériot XI.
December 16 The 3rd Salon of Aerial Locomotion opens at the Grand Palais in Paris.
1912January 27 General Castlings, Inspector of Military Aeronautics, concurs with Clément Ader in calling for development of specialized fighter and bomber aircraft rather than dual purpose planes.
February 4 Austrian parachutist Franz Reichelt is killed in a jump from the Eiffel Tower.
February 23 Le Matin launches a fund raising campaign to aid the development of French military aviation.
March 11 The first military air revue is held at Vincennes.
March 29 The National Assembly enacts legislation creating an air force.
April 16 American Harriet Quimby pilots a Blériot on the first airplane flight across the English Channel by woman pilot.
May 21 The Clément-Bayard dirigible attains an altitude of 2,900 meters.
June 25 Hubert Latham is trampled to death by a waterbuffalo while on safari near Fort Archambault (present day Sarh, Chad). He was 29 years old.
July 30 The first airmail flight in France links Nancy and Lunéville.
August 1 Airmail service between Paris and London begins.
September 7 Roland Garros reaches an altitude of 5,000 meters.
During the Year Maurice Bienaime & R. Rumpelmayer of France win the seventh Fédération Aéronautique Internationale James Gordon Bennett Cup gas balloon race. The pair traveled a distance of 1334 miles from the start in Stuttgart, Germany to the landing point in Russia.
Avionnerie militaire. Pointage aérien (Avionics, Aerial Navigation) by Clément Ader is published. Ader predicts that naval warfare will become impossible as bombers will destroy the fleets at sea or in port. He declares the aircraft carrier an indispensable in modern warfare and describes a series of weapons to be dropped on the enemy and instruments necessary for successful operation of a bomber including; the altimeter, the velosolmeter and the cathacros.
1913April 3 A German zeppelin crash lands at Lunéville. After conducting indenty checks, the French authorities authorize engine repairs and permit the airship to depart.
July 3 A young Breton, Marcel Brindejonc from Moulinais, lands his monoplan at Villacoublay aérodrome completing a 4,820 kilometer tour of Europe that passed through Warsaw, Saint Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen and The Hague.
August 20 Adolphe Pégoud makes the world’s first parachute jump from an airplane over the terrain de Buc.
September 1 Adolphe Pégoud perfoms an inverted flight in a Blériot XI.
September 13 Augustin Seguin departs Buc, France, at 5 a.m. in a Farman biplane. He completes a successful non-stop flight to Berlin 11 hours later.
September 21 Adolphe Pégoud performs a loop de loop in a Blériot XI.
September 23 Roland Garros completes the first airplane flight across the Mediteranean in his Morane-Saulnier. He crosses the 730 kilometers separating Saint Raphael and Bizerte, Tunisia in 7 hours and 53 minutes.
October 1 Adolphe Pégoud follows up on his invention of the loop de loop with a display of aerial acrobatics that includes six complete loops.
December 28 Georges Legagneux breals the world altitude record by climbing to an elevation of 6,120 meters.
During the Year The eighth Fédération Aéronautique Internationale James Gordon Bennett Cup gas balloon race is launched from Paris. Ralph M. Upson & R.A.L. Preston of the United States fly a winning distance of 384 miles.
1914January 8 Eugène Gilbert makes a safe landing on the roof of 216 Rue Saint Charles in Paris after his plane’s engine quits. April 15
Roland Garros wins the Monaco International Air Rally covering the circuit in 15 days aboard his Morane-Saulnier flying boat.
May 8 René Caudron makes the first successful takeoff by an airplane from a ship.

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