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A History of Aeronautics by Marsh and Vivian

Maurice Tabuteau flew across the Pyrenees


A

triumph and a tragedy were combined in September of 1910. On the 23rd of the month, Georges Chavez set out to fly across the Alps on a Bleriot monoplane. Prizes had been offered by the Milan Aviation Committee for a flight from Brigue in Switzerland over the Simplon Pass to Milan, a distance of 94 miles with a minimum height of 6,600 feet above sea level. Chavez started at 1.30 p.m. On the 23rd, and 41 minutes later he reached Domodossola, 25 miles distant. Here he descended, numbed with the cold of the journey; it was said that the wings of his machine collapsed when about 30 feet from the ground, but however this may have been, he smashed the machine on landing, and broke both legs, in addition to sustaining other serious injuries. He lay in hospital until the 27th September, when he died, having given his life to the conquest of the Alps. His death in the moment of success was as great a tragedy as were those of Pilcher and Lilienthal.

The day after Chavez's death, Maurice Tabuteau flew across the Pyrenees, landing in the square at Biarritz. On December 30th, Tabuteau made a flight of 365 miles in 7 hours 48 minutes. Farman, on December 18th, had flown for over 8 hours, but his total distance was only 282 miles. The autumn of this year was also noteworthy for the fact that aeroplanes were first successfully used in the French Military Manoeuvres. The British War Office, by the end of the year, had bought two machines, a military type Farman

and a Paulhan, ignoring British experimenters and aeroplane builders of proved reliability. These machines, added to an old Bleriot two-seater, appear to have constituted the British aeroplane fleet of the period.

There were by this time three main centres of aviation in England, apart from Cody, alone on Laffan's Plain. These three were Brooklands, Hendon, and the Isle of Sheppey, and of the three Brooklands was chief. Here such men as Graham Gilmour, Rippen, Leake, Wickham, and Thomas persistently experimented. Hendon had its own little group, and Shellbeach, Isle of Sheppey, held such giants of those days as C. S. Rolls and Moore Brabazon, together with Cecil Grace and Rawlinson. One or other, and sometimes all of these were deserted on the occasion of some meeting or other, but they were the points where the spade work was done, Brooklands taking chief place. 'If you want the early history of flying in England, it is there,' one of the early school remarked, pointing over toward Brooklands course.

1911 inaugurated a new series of records of varying character. On the 17th January, E. B. Ely, an American, flew from the shore of San Francisco to the U.S. cruiser Pennsylvania, landing on the cruiser, and then flew back to the shore. The British military designing of aeroplanes had been taken up at Farnborough by G. H. de Havilland, who by the end of January was flying a machine of his own design, when he narrowly escaped becoming a casualty through collision with an obstacle on the ground, which swept the undercarriage from his machine.

A list of certified pilots of the countries of the world was issued early in 1911, showing certificates granted up to the end of 1910. France led the way easily with 353 pilots; England came next with 57, and Germany next with 46; Italy owned 32, Belgium 27, America 26, and Austria 19; Holland and Switzerland had 6 aviators apiece, while Denmark followed with 3, Spain with 2, and Sweden with 1. The first certificate in England was that of J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon, while Louis Bleriot was first on the French list and Glenn Curtiss, first holder of an American certificate, also held the second French brevet.

On the 7th March, Eugene Renaux won the Michelin Grand Prize by flying from the French Aero Club ground at St Cloud and landing on the Puy de Dome. The landing, which was one of the conditions of the prize, was one of the most dangerous conditions ever attached to a competition; it involved dropping on to a little plateau 150 yards square, with a possibility of either smashing the machine against the face of the mountain, or diving over the edge of the plateau into the gulf beneath. The length of the journey was slightly over 200 miles and the height of the landing point 1,465 metres, or roughly 4,500 feet above sea-level. Renaux carried a passenger, Doctor Senoucque, a member of Charcot's South Polar Expedition.


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