XVII. A SUMMARY, TO 1911

There is so much overlapping in the crowded story of the first years of successful power-driven flight that at this point it is advisable to make a concise chronological survey of the chief events of the period of early development, although much of this is of necessity recapitulation. The story begins, of course, with Orville Wright's first flight of 852 feet at Kitty Hawk on December 19th, 1903. The next event of note was Wright's flight of 11.12 miles in 18 minutes 9 seconds at Dayton, Ohio, on September 26th, 1905, this being the first officially recorded flight. On October 4th of the same year, Wright flew 20.75 miles in 33 minutes 17 seconds, this being the first flight of over 20 miles ever made. Then on September 14th 1906, Alberto Santos-Dumont made a flight of eight seconds on the second heavier-than-air machine he had constructed. It was a big box-kite-like machine; this was the second power-driven aeroplane in Europe to fly, for although Santos-Dumont's first machine produced in 1905 was reckoned an unsuccessful design, it had actually got off the ground for brief periods. Louis Bleriot came into the ring on April 5th, 1907, with a first flight of 6 seconds on a Bleriot monoplane, his eighth but first successful construction.

Henry Farman made his first appearance in the history of aviation with a flight of 935 feet on a Voisin biplane on October 15th 1907. On October 25th, in a flight of 2,530 feet, he made the first recorded turn in the air, and on March 29th, 1908, carrying Leon Delagrange on a Voisin biplane, he made the first passenger flight. On April 10th of this year, Delagrange, in flying 1 1/2 miles, made the first flight in Europe exceeding a mile in distance. He improved on this by flying 10 1/2 miles at Milan on June 22nd, while on July 8th, at Turin, he took up Madame Peltier, the first woman to make an aeroplane flight.

Wilbur Wright, coming over to Europe, made his first appearance on the Continent with a flight of 1 3/4 minutes at Hunaudieres, France, on August 8th, 1908. On September 6th, at Chalons, he flew for 1 hour 4 minutes 26 seconds with a passenger, this being the first flight in which an hour in the air was exceeded with a passenger on board.

on September 12th 1908, Orville Wright, flying at Fort Meyer, U.S.A., with Lieut. Selfridge as passenger, crashed his machine, suffering severe injuries, while Selfridge was killed. This was the first aeroplane fatality. On October 30th, 1908, Farman made the first cross-country flight, covering the distance of 17 miles between Bouy and Rheims. The next day, Louis Bleriot, in flying from Toury to Artenay, made two landings en route, this being the first cross-country flight with landings. On the last day of the year, Wilbur Wright won the Michelin Cup at Auvours with a flight of 90 miles, which, lasting 2 hours 20 minutes 23 seconds, exceeded 2 hours in the air for the first time.

On January 2nd, 1909, S. F. Cody opened the New Year by making the first observed flight at Farnborough on a British Army aeroplane. It was not until July 18th of 1909 that the first European height record deserving of mention was put up by Paulhan, who achieved a height of 450 feet on a Voisin biplane. This preceded Latham's first attempt to fly the Channel by two days, and five days later, on the 25th of the month, Bleriot made the first Channel crossing. The Rheims Meeting followed on August 22nd, and it was a great day for aviation when nine machines were seen in the air at once. It was here that Farman, with a 118 mile flight, first exceeded the hundred miles, and Latham raised the height record officially to 500 feet, though actually he claimed to have reached 1,200 feet. On September 8th, Cody, flying from Aldershot, made a 40 mile journey, setting up a new cross-country record. On October 19th the Comte de Lambert flew from Juvisy to Paris, rounded the Eiffel Tower and flew back. J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon made the first circular mile flight by a British aviator on an all-British machine in Great Britain, on October 30th, flying a Short biplane with a Green engine. Paulhan, flying at Brooklands on November 2nd, accomplished 96 miles in 2 hours 48 minutes, creating a British distance record; on the following day, Henry Farman made a flight of 150 miles in 4 hours 22 minutes at Mourmelon, and on the 5th of the month, Paulhan, flying a Farman biplane, made a world's height record of 977 feet. This, however, was not to stand long, for Latham got up to 1,560 feet on an Antoinette at Mourmelon on December 1st. December 31st witnessed the first flight in Ireland, made by H. Ferguson on a monoplane which he himself had constructed at Downshire Park, Lisburn.

These, thus briefly summarised, are the principal events up to the end of 1909. 1910 opened with tragedy, for on January 4th Leon Delagrange, one of the greatest pilots of his time, was killed while flying at Pau. The machine was the Bleriot XI which Delagrange had used at the Doncaster meeting, and to which Delagrange had fitted a 50 horse-power Gnome engine, increasing the speed of the machine from its original 30 to 45 miles per hour. With the Rotary Gnome engine there was of necessity a certain gyroscopic effect, the strain of which proved too much for the machine. Delagrange had come to assist in the inauguration of the Croix d'Hins aerodrome, and had twice lapped the course at a height of about 60 feet. At the beginning of the third lap, the strain of the Gnome engine became too great for the machine; one wing collapsed as if the stay wires had broken, and the whole machine turned over and fell, killing Delagrange.