GUSTAVE WHITEHEAD FLEW ON AUGUST 14, 1901

He took off that day. It was 115 years ago, two years before the Wrights. Gustav Weisskopf had changed his name into Gustave Whitehead before building his aeroplane whose name was the « Condor », or number 21. Gustave was a German immigrant from Leutershausen in Bavaria, where a splendid museum https://www.weisskopf.de commemorates the feats of the brilliant inventor.

Two replicas of his plane #21 flew in 1986 in the U.S.A., and in 1997 in Germany. Several books have been written about Gustave Whitehead so far. Susan O’Dwyer Brinchman published the latest one last year. Her searching follows her father’s, Major William J. O’Dwyer, a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve officer who had found early Whitehead’s photos in an attic, in 1963, and researched Whitehead for the next 45 years, interviewing many witnesses. Susan worked with him during the later decades and recently, has found even more. She explains why Whitehead must have been the first in the world to perform a steerable, propelled without catapult, heavier-than-air flight. She shares an extensive FAQ and lots of resources on her website here: http://gustavewhitehead.info/gustave-whitehead-resources/  which are quite compelling. You can order her book Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight on Amazon or get a signed one by clicking on the cover here below:

Book cover First in Flight on Gustave Whietehead by Susan O'Dwyer BrinchmanBook cover story of Gustave Whitehead First in Flight aviation history Connecticut

FORMER AVIATION TEMPLE 1st AEROBATICS SCHOOL

Few people know that there was a major aerodrome near Paris more than a century ago. Though Louis Blériots’s Aeroparc contributed a lot to aviation history, it was demolished in 1970. Villagers, aviation fans and historians made a decision of renovating the remains of this aviation temple which. There used to be a splendid video reconstruction which unfotunately no longer exists.

Renovation of  Aéroparc’s Entrance in Buc

(from Xavier Cotton’s article in French)

Louis Blériot's Aéroparc entrance being renovated
Louis Blériot’s Aéroparc entrance being renovated – early Sept. 2015

For the 100th anniversary of the English Channel crossing by Louis Blériot, a well-documented publication was released in 2009 – « Buc à travers l’aviation« . A Mirage III R was given too, by SECAMIC company. This Dassault recce aircraft can be seen in Avenue Jean Casale between Buc and Toussus-le-Noble, France. The Buc citizens could proudly look back at their prestigious aviation past as Buc and Toussus-le-Noble airfields used to be an aviation history cradle.

Villagers and historians wanted to value their aeronautical heritage in 2012 and they made a decision of setting a renovation project of Blériot’s Aéroparc entrance which is located at the beginning of Guynemer Avenue. Many documents from archives allowed them to incentivize an accurate reconstruction. As the pictures show, the renovation works have already begun as of September 2, 2015.

At the same time, the statue erected to commemorate Jean Casale (1893-1923), WWI ace and Blériot’s test pilot et pilote d’essai aux établissements Blériot, will also be restored for it has been damaged by the effects of time. As far as the Mirage III R is concerned, it would also need a new coat of paint.

AÉROPARC LOUIS BLÉRIOT IN BUC, FRANCE 1914 - Toni Giacoia collection
AÉROPARC LOUIS BLÉRIOT IN BUC, FRANCE 1914 – Toni Giacoia’s collection

You can support this work to renovate this important remnant of aviation history by making a tax-deductible donation at a rate of 60% through the Heritage Foundation (Fondation du patrimoine). Please, click on the link hereafter to see the project: https://www.fondation-patrimoine.org/fr/ile-de-france-12/tous-les-projets-593/detail-aeroparc-louis-bleriot-de-buc-13201 and it is possible to download the donation form at : http://www.mairie-buc.fr/images/stories/newsletter/novembre2012/bulletin_de_souscription_BUC.pdf.

Louis Blériot won international renown as well as his presence at the very first Paris Air Show (Salon de l’Aéronautique which occurred at « Le Grand Palais » in Paris instead of Le Bourget) in late 1909 thanks to his Channel crossing on July 25, 1909. He had crossed the English Channel on his Blériot XI monoplane which is still  exhibited at the Musée des Arts et Métiers. Accordingly, Blériot-Aéronautique received a lot of aeroplane orders since then. Louis Blériot wanted to open a flying school. He established his school near Paris, to the south of Versailles on Buc airfield in order to train pilots and test new flying machines. It was inaugurated on November 13th, 1912. The whole airfield and compound was called Aerodrome Louis Blériot.

There was a monumental gate before the main building which looked like a castle. It was the very heart of the school as well as a hotel for the student pilots and a restaurant. Hangars and grandstands were added so as to organise airshows. Many great aviators and aces landed and took off at Blériot’s Aérodrome such as Roland Garros, Maryse Bastié, Maxime Lenoir, Edmond Perreyon and the Swiss John Domenjoz. Célestin Adolphe Pégoud nicknamed « Le roi de l’air » – « King of the air » – was one of the first pilots looping the loop. Here is a video shot on September 21st, 1913 in front of a 200,000 attendance above Blériot’s aerodrome in Buc:

The airfield was very active during WW1 thanks to its SPADs, then in the 1920s. The downturn of the Aéroparc started when Louis Blériot passed away on August 2, 1936. Aéroparc Louis Blériot was occupied by the German troops during WWII and was bombed by the Allies several times in 1944. The Aéroparc facilities were given back to Blériot-Aéronautique but it was left in tatters. The movements stopped in 1966 and it was closed down in 1970 before being demolished a few years after. The remnants of the monumental gate were all that is left from this exceptional past. Therefore, the Aéroparc renovation aims at valuing this site’s aviation history heritage.

Sources :
« Passion pour l’Aviation » from Xavier Cotton’s article in French
First photo : Toni Giacoia  ( http://fclanglais.fr/ )

Legendary Alberto Santos-Dumont – First sportsman of the air

The Brazilian pioneer was the first to demonstrate that controlled flight was possible thanks to his dirigible balloons. He flew his « Number 6 » round the Eiffel Tower as early as 1901. He designed and flew the 14-bis « Oiseau de proie » (Bird of prey) in 1906. This invention was the first fixed-wing flying machine witnessed by the European press and French aviation authorities to achieve an actual controlled flight.

He designed and flew the Demoiselle (Damselfly) in 1908. This aircraft was controlled by wing warping, and a tail unit equipped with a rudder, and an elevator.

VIDEO: