When Flying Took Wing

Daily Mail (London), February 2, 2011 | Go to article overview

When Flying Took Wing


Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION In the early days of aviation, by which criterion was the first pilot's licence issued and to whom?

THE Aero-Club de France was the world's first such club, inaugurated on October 20, 1898, as a society 'to encourage aerial locomotion'.

In 1905, it was a founder member and driving force behind the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records, and also the first body to issue a pilot's licence from January 1909.

The first 14 licences were awarded in alphabetical order, because these pilots had already amply demonstrated their skill, so the certificates were honorary -- awarded without a test:

1. Louis Bleriot (1872-1936), the first pilot to cross the Channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft, for which he received a prize of [pounds sterling]1,000.

2. Glenn Curtiss, who made the first long-distance flight in the U.S. and won a race at the Grande Semaine d'Aviation flying contest at Rheims, the world's first international air contest.

3. Leon Delagrange (1873-1910), a famous sculptor and former president of the Aero-Club. In September 1908 he set a distance record of 15.2 miles in 29 mins 53 secs. In January 1910 he was killed in a monoplane accident near Bordeaux.

4. Robert Esnault-Pelterie (1881-1957), a pioneering French aircraft designer and rocket-propulsion theorist.

5. Henry Farman (1877-1958), born to english parents in Paris, a Grand Prix motor racing champion, aviator and aircraft manufacturer and designer.

6. Maurice Farman (1877-1964), Henry's twin brother; he won the 1901 Pau Grand Prix, the first race ever to be called a Grand Prix.

7. Jean Gobron (1885-1945), son of the president of the Gobron car company; he died in a road accident.

8. Comte Charles de Lambert (1865-1944), the first person in France to be taught to fly by Wilbur Wright.

9. Hubert Latham (1883-1912), the first person to attempt to cross the Channel in an aeroplane. And due to engine failure, he became the first person to ditch a plane on a body of water. At the end of December 1911, he led an expedition to the French Congo and was killed by a rampaging buffalo.

10. Louis Paulhan (1883-1963), a pioneering French aviator who, in 1910, flew Le Canard, the world's first seaplane, designed by Henri Fabre.

11. Henri Rougier (1876-1956), best remembered for his victory in the inaugural Monte Carlo Rally (1909) in a 45 hp Turcat-Mery.

12. Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932), a Brazilian balloonist; made the first flight verified by the Aero-Club de France of a powered heavier-than-air machine in europe.

14/15. Orville and Wilbur Wright (1871-1948 and 1867-1912) built the world's first successful aeroplane and made the first controlled, powered and sustained heavierthan-air human flight.

For superstitious reasons, number 13 was skipped. All subsequent licensees required an examination.

James Normanton, Barking, Suffolk.

QUESTION Is it true that the Wellesley family that produced Arthur, Duke of Wellington, is the Irish branch of the Wesley family that produced John, the founder of Methodism?

THE Honourable Arthur Wesley, the future Duke of Wellington and Prime Minister (1769-1852), was the fourth son of Garret Wesley 1st earl of Mornington.

The family name had been Wesley only since his grandfather, Garret Colley, the scion of an Anglo-Norman family that had been settled in Kildare since the 12th century.

He had changed his name to Wesley when he inherited land in Somerset from a cousin, the son of his aunt Anne who had married a Garret Wesley of Dangan and Mornington, both extensive properties in Ireland. …

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