I had a problem with my esophagus and had to have a surgery in March. I was in hospital for most of March and have been home since early April. God heard the prayers of my loved ones and well wishers and has healed me internally. I am now on the mend and should be my usual self soon. I hope to resume posting in the next few days.
Apart from the posts, I have pages on various topics on the bar at the top. BOAC First Flights - covers flown to/from India etc. Click on the titles to view the contents. This is my contribution to Indian aero-philately. I will attempt to list first flight covers to/from India of various airlines. This will take some time but I will be working on it. I will display covers that I have in my collection to make it visually appealing.
I have started another blog which showcases my Aviation Stamps collection. This blog will eventually show all of my collection in pages under various heads; airlines, airports, various aircraft under heads like: concorde, airbus, air force planes etc. It will be sometime before I am able to show all I have, but a beginning has been made, see my blog: http://aviationstamps.blogspot.in/
I have uploaded scans to various pages: airships, airlines, airports, helicopters, concorde, Louis Bleriot stamps, parachutes. This blog will consist of pages rather than posts. See the bar on the top and click on the topics to see the contents.
Keep visiting it as I will update it regularly with more pages of different topics. I would love to have your feedback/comments, advice etc.
The first woman to win her fixed wing pilot's license was the self-styled Baroness de la Roche
(real name Elise Raymonde Deroche). She was taught to fly by Charles Voisin at their base at Chalons. Voisin's aircraft could only seat one person, so she operated the plane
by herself while he stood on the ground and gave instructions. After she
mastered taxiing around the airfield, she lifted off and flew 300 yards
(270 m). On 8 March 1910,
de Laroche became the first woman in the world to receive a pilot
licence when the Aero-Club of France issued her licence #36 of the International Aeronautics Federation (F.A.I.) at the age of 24.
She participated in the aviation meetings at Heliopolis, Budapest, Rouen, and Saint Petersburg. During the show in St. Petersburg, she was personally congratulated by Tsar Nicholas II who also praised her for her bravery and audacity. There, she was presented once again as "Baroness" de Laroche. Thereafter, the title became commonly used. In July 1910 de Laroche was participating in the week long airshow at Reims
in France. On 8 July her aeroplane crashed and she suffered such severe
injuries that her recovery was in doubt, but two years later she was
fit again and had returned to flying. On 25 November 1913 de Laroche won the Aero-Club of France's Femina Cup for a non-stop long-distance flight of over 4 hours duration.
de Laroche set two women's altitude records,in June 1919,one at 15,700 feet (4,800 m); and also the women's distance record, at 201 miles (323 km).
In the summer of 1919, de la Roche, who was also a talented engineer,
reported to the airfield at Le Crotoy to copilot a new aircraft in hopes
of becoming the first female test pilot. Unfortunately, the aircraft went into a dive on its landing approach and
both the Baroness and the pilot were killed.
A statue of de la Roche
stands at Le Bourget airport in France.
de Laroche can be seen on this stamp and souvenir sheet issued by France
Stamp issued by Gibraltar inscribed " Baroness Raymonde de Laroache, first woman with pilot's licence (8th March, 1910)"
Ferdinand Leon Delgrange
Another prominent aviator of the period was Ferdinand Leon Delgrange who was a contemporary of Farman. He bought one of the first Voisin aircraft in 1907 but did not modify it like Farman. On 23 June Delagrange set an endurance record of 18 minutes, 30 seconds at Milan. On 6 September Delagrange flew for 25km (15 miles) at Issy establishing a record having done it in 29 minutes, 53 seconds. On 17 October he established a world record (6 miles in 7 minutes, 36 seconds), and in December set a new monoplane record.
On 4th January 1910 Ferdinand Léon 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 he had fitted a 50 horse-power
Gnome engine, which proved too heavy. After two successful laps the strain of the engine was too much and one of the wing collapsed and the machine crashed killing Delgrange.
He was president of the Aéro-Club de France in 1908 and was awarded one of the first eight aviators certificates by the Aero Club de France on 7 January 1909.
Souvenir sheet issued by France in 2010 with a stamp showing Delgrange and sketches of the Voisin biplane.
Delgrange's biplane of 1907 can be seen on this stamp issued by
Gabriel and Charles Voisin were among Europe's leading pioneer aviators.
Gabriel began his formal aviation career in 1903 when he was engaged by
a prominent French aeronautical promoter, Ernest Archdeacon, to build
gliders for him.
In 1905 Gabriel formed the first commercial aircraft manufacturing
company in Europe with the soon-to-be famous Louis Blériot. Numerous
disputes arose between the two quickly, resulting in Voisin buying out
Blériot's interest in 1906.
Gabriel immediately reformed the company with his brother Charles,
establishing the highly successful Appareils d'Aviation Les Frères
Voisin. The firm's first truly successful airplane appeared in 1907. The
classic Voisin pusher biplane design of 1907 was one of the most
significant aircraft of the pre-World War I era. Many of Europe's
leading aviators flew the Voisin.
Stamp issued by Comoro Islands showing portrait of the brothers Voisin and the Voisin biplane.
The Voisin biplane won accolades when Henri Farman made the first one-kilometer circuit
in Europe in it, winning a 50,000-franc prize. By 1912, the Voisin brothers had produced
more than 75 airplanes that were based on the simple and sturdy 1907
In 1912, the Voisin brothers developed a version of their successful design for the military. Thereafter Compagnie Gabriel Voisin built aircraft almost exclusively for military contracts.
During the war, the Voisin pusher series performed a variety of
missions, including reconnaissance, artillery spotting, training, day
and night bombing, and ground attack. The Voisin Type 3 is also notable in having equipped the first dedicated bomber units. But by 1916 the Voisin Type 3 and its immediate successors became vulnerable to new, better performing, German fighters.
The Voisins were slow and with their pusher configuration they were
defenseless from the rear. Despite these limitations, these rugged and
reliable aircraft still had a role to play. Voisins were used as
trainers and for night missions for the remainder of the war. Voisin
pusher aircraft were supplied to, or built under license by, twelve
countries, including Britain, Russia, Italy, and the United States.
Another well known pioneer of aviation was Henri Farman. He learnt to fly in 1907 and was one of the first customers of the Voisin Brothers who had just started their aircraft construction buiness at that time. He ordered a copy of the plane they had built for Leon Delgrange. Farman used this Voisin 1907 biplane to set numerous records for both distance and duration. In 1908 he established two important records in France. At Issy he won the Deutsche-Archdeacon prize of 50,000 francs by making a circular flight of a mile at a height of 25 feet. Later that year he flew 17 miles across the country from Bouy to Rheims in 20 minutes, at a record average speed of 47 mph. These flights were made in a modified Voisin biplane. In 1909, he opened a flying school in Chalons-sur-Marne. Later that year he made another record breaking flight of 180 kilometers at Rheims in just over 3 hours. And, in November a 232 kilometer flight in 4 four hours 17 minutes.
By the end of 1909 he had a fallout with Voisin and he founded a successful and innovative aircraft factory with his brothers Maurice & Richard. Their airplane Farman III became an instant success.
The Farman biplane can be seen on this stamp issued by Japan in 1960 to commemorate 50th anniversary of Aviation in Japan. A Farman biplane was flown in Tokyo in 1910 by Capt. Yoshitoki Tokugawa. In the forground is the silhoutte of a Douglas DC-8.
Their 1914 model was used extensively for artillery observation and reconnaissance during World War I. The Farman Aircraft company's Goliath was the first long-distance passenger airliner, beginning regular Paris-London flights on 8 February 1919. The Farman F.60 Goliath and Farman H.F.III can be seen on this stamp issued by Monaco to mark the birth centenary of Henri Farman. The maximum card shows the Farman Goliath along with a picture of Farman.
A stamp issued by Comoro Islands showing the Farman biplane and picture of Farman
Farman F.60 Goliath at the top with a Bleriot XI.
A Farman H.F.16 can been seen with a Boeing 737 on this French stamp issued in 1992 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of First Mail Flight from Nancy to Luneville.
The Farman 60 Goliath can be seen on this stamp issued by Cuba in 2010.
Stamp issued by Afars & Issas showing portrait of Farman and the Farman bis 1. Issued in 1974 to mark his birth centenary.
Stamp issued by Rwanda showing Farman and his Voisin No.1 bis.
Souvenir Sheet issued by France in 2010 with stamp of Farman and drawings of the Voisin biplane flown by him
Experiments in powered flight were continuing in Europe. In 1906 Traian Vuia, a Romanian inventor and aviation pioneer designed, built and tested a tractor configuration monoplane . Vuia's high-wing monoplane was powered by a carbonic acid gas engine. The 25 hp engine was adapted by Vuia as the engine he wanted was not available. His first airborne test was at Issy-les-Moilineaux, a Paris suburb. After accelerating about 50m his tiny monoplane left the ground and flew about 12 metres on 18th March, 1906, then the engine cut off and it came down. It was caught by the wind and damaged hitting a tree. Vuia made several short flights later in 1906 and 1907 but was unsuccessful in sustained flight. However, Vuia's invention influenced Louis Bleriot in designing monoplanes. The airfield at Issy later became the headquarters of the Bleriot Aviation School.
Another Romanian who became famous as an aviation pioner was Aurel Vlaicu. He built a glider in 1909 in which he carried out several flights. This success encouraged him to attempt building a plane in 1910. He named his craft A. Vlaicu Nr. I which flew for the first time on June 17, 1910 on Cotroceni field near Bucharest. He flew for apporximately 40 meters at a height of 3-4 meters . During the summer of 1910, Vlaicu flew several times at heights exceeding hundreds of meters and lengths of several kilometres. Construction of A. Vlaicu Nr. II was begun in December 1910 and completed in April 1911. He entered the A. Vlaicu Nr. II in the June 1912 international flight competition held in Aspern - Vienna. He was awarded the first prize for target launching, and four second prizes, one of which was for steady point landing. His achievements during the competition were so impressive that the press considered Aurel Vlaicu the second pilot of the contest after the famous French aviator Roland Gaross.Aurel Vlaicu died on September 13, 1913 while attempting to be the first to fly the Carpathian Mountains.
The early years of the 20th century were the most exciting and significant in the development of aviation. There were epic flights made among others, by the Wright brothers, Santos-Dumont, Louis Bleriot, Henri Farman, the Voisin brothers, Leon Delgrange, Breguet brothers etc. They built and flew airplanes. There were British pioneers like A.V. Roe, Geoffrey de havilland, T.O.M. Sopwich, Grahame-White. American pioneers included S.F. Cody, Glenn Martin, Langley and Glenn Curtiss. Many of these names became famous in later years. The Wright brothers were the first to fly but there were several others who were working on flying machines of one kind or the other for years before that. One of them Clement Ader made an airborne hop under power for a distance of about 50m. Ader made a large steam powered machine he called 'L'Eole' in which he made a series of hops in 1890. But none of these could be termed as 'flown'. He designed, constructed and tested Ader Avion II in 1893 which met with little success as with the later Ader Avion III in 1897. He can be seen on a Mauritanian stamp issued in 1977:
In 1901 Wilhelm Kress, an Austrian who had experimented with balloons and airships, made his first attempt at flying on Lake Tullnerbach, near Vienna, in a tandem winged aircraft of his own design. It had two airscrews and was mounted on floats but the motor was much too heavy to lift the machine and a sudden tilt wrecked it beyond repair. Kress can be seen on Austrian air stamps of 1922-23.
The success of the Wright bothers' attempt has already been dealt with in an earlier post. Another pioneer of that time was Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian who put France at the centre of the aviation world. Santos-Dumont's airships have been the subject of an earlier post. He moved from balloons to airships to aircraft. He flew in a box-kite craft built by Gabriel and Charles Voisin for about 100 feet at Bagatelle, near Paris, in 1906. This was the first official powered flight in Europe. The aircraft was named 14 Bis as it succeeded his 14 airships. In 1919 he built the world's first light plane, the Demoiselle, with a bamboo frame and a wing span of only 20 ft.
The Demoiselle is featured on a stamp issued by Cambodia to mark the 120th birth anniversary of Santos-Dumont.
Santos-Dumont's 14 Bis is shown at the lower part of this stamp issued by Zaire.
I am overwhelmed with the response that my blog has been receiving and the numerous requests to keep posting new material. My blog was never meant to be a chatty one; rather one that unfolds the history or aviation through philately. At the last count my blog has had visitors from 133 countries.
I hope to resume posting again soon the story of aviation through philately. Here are a few recent additions to my collection.