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Kings of the Air: Some posters

3,000 posts since starting this blog in February! Thanks to everyone who has checked it out. To celebrate, here's a little eye candy of posters advertising early aviation events..

'The world owes its wings to France' - a poster commemorating the first one kilometre flight on a closed circuit by Henry Farman in one of his own machines, 12 January 1908. Farman was the son of a British journalist living in France, but he took French nationality. He went on to make a two kilometre flight on 21 March, and the first cross-country flight, from Châlons-sur-Marne to Reims, a distance of twenty-seven kilometres in twenty minutes, on 30 October. He opened his own flying school at Châlons in 1909, and began manufacturing aircraft of his own design later that year.

The First Paris Aero Salon, at the Grand Palais, 25 September - 17 October 1909. The star exhibit was the machine that Blériot flew across the English Channel earlier in the year (it is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, in Paris). One critic wrote in the magazine 'L'Illustration', 'Mechanical travel through the air, with its mysterious problems and constant evolution, cannot but fail to excite popular interest. The number of people trying to get in was immense; a special squad of policeman had to be drafted in to control the sea of people around the machines of wood and canvas, with the Wright above them all like a bird.'
Le critique Louis Baudry De Saunier décrit ainsi ce premier Salon dans L'Illustration : « La locomotion mécanique dans l'air, avec ses mystérieux problèmes et ses révolutions prochaines, ne pouvait manquer de réveiller l'enthousiasme de la foule. Le nombre des entrées au Grand Palais a repris son niveau le plus élevé ; il a fallu un service d'agents de la force publique pour contenir la mer des visiteurs autour des bouts de bois et de toiles sur lesquels Wright a joué à l'oiseau ! - See more at:

Reims Aviation Week, 22 to 29 August, 1909, offering 200,000 francs in prizes. This was also a massively popular event, with some 500,000 people passing through the turnstiles, including the President of France, Armand Fallières, and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George. Thirty-eight aircraft were entered, of which twenty-three actually took part. The principal event was the Coupe Gordon Bennett (the publisher of the New York Herald), a time trial of two laps of a 10km course. The winner was Eugène Lefebvre, in a French-built Wright. The Grand Prix de Champagne et la Ville de Reims, a distance event, was won by Henry Farman. Other winners of smaller events included the American Glenn Curtiss, Louis Blériot and Hubert Latham.

An aviation meeting in Nice, 10-25 April 1910. It did not attract many of the top names - Hubert Latham was there (a Frenchman despite his name), Britain was represented by the Hon. C.S. Rolls, but the most successful pilot, in speed and distance events, was the Russian, Effimoff.

Lyon Aviation Week, 7-15 May 1910, also with 200,000 francs in prizes. Flight reported 'some extraordinary flying' at the meeting. Latham was there, as was the Belgian Charles van de Born. Making one of his first appearances on the European circuit was Louis Paulhan, who was one of the meeting's successes, breaking records for height, speed and weight on a Henry Farman.

Paulhan joined the Aviation Service in 1914, and was given command of MF99 (later MF99S, then MF399), which was posted to Serbia in support of the Serbian campaign against the Austrians.

The second Champagne Aviation Week at Reims, 3-10 July 1910. It was hoped that this would be as big a success as the previous year's event, and seventy-five aircraft were entered, but inclement weather disrupted many of the events. For Flight, the star of the meeting was the Belgian Jan Olieslagers, breaking distance and endurance records. Olieslagers served with the Belgian Air Service during the Great War, and scored six confirmed victories.

The Fourth Paris Aero Salon, Grand Palais, 26 October - 10 November 1912. 'What a crowd!' commented Flight's correspondent, 'What enthusiasts the French are over their beloved aviation.' The previous event had attracted 43 aircraft, but this year's included 77, of which 27 belonged to the Army's Aviation Service. 'Every stand has an air of progress and prosperity about it, an effect for which the French constructors have to thank an encouraging government.' Unlike, he thought, the British. Certainly, the schemes for expanding the service that the Inspector of Aviation had proposed made the Army the biggest customer of the nascent aviation industry.

The Sixth Paris Aero Salon at the Grand Palais, 19 December 1919 to 4 January 1920. The first post-war Salon shows the manufacturers scrambling to produce aircraft for a peacetime world. Unfortunately, most of them are doing it by shoehorning cabins onto military aircraft. The results vary between the plainly ugly and the downright hideous. 'Now and then', says the Flight correspondent, 'the French designer scores with his sense of the artistic, with his eye for the graceful outline or flowing curve.' The side views here and here shows precious little evidence of it, to be honest - the Blériot Mammoth (no.4), the Caudron C.25 (no.13) and the Potez SEA7 (no.37) are all fine examples. Streamlining cannot come too soon!


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