Aerial view upon the sky during the "La Course d'Aèroplanes de Monaco en 1909", with 5 planes in the air. Photographed by M. Branger, Paris.


From Krul Antiquarian Books (Hoofddorp, Netherlands)

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Paris, M. Branger., 1909. Original photograph, silver print, 12,9 x 18 cm, with stamp and describtion in french by M. Branger. January 24th - March 24th, 1909: The Monaco Meeting. - The 1909 Monaco meeting must rank high on a list of aviation's biggest fiascos. It was organised by the "Sporting-Club International" of Monaco, which announced the event in December 1908. They offered big prize money; a total of 100,000 francs was to be won - 75,000 francs to the winner, 15,000 for second place and 10,000 for third. The course was 9.6 kilometres (6 miles), from the Monaco harbour, where the planes would be timed at the harbour entrance, north-eastwards across the bay, around a rounding-point on Cap Martin and back. The course had to be covered three times during the two-month meeting, on three different days, and the winner would be determined on aggregate time. The race was open to both landplanes and seaplanes. The landing strip for landplanes was on Quai Antoine 1er, a quay which stretches some 400 meters towards the sea from the Rascasse corner of the present Formula One Monaco Grand Prix circuit. The quay was cleared from all obstacles and an airship hangar and four hangars for competing airplanes were built. In order to help the planes to take the jump out over the Mediterranean a five-meter ramp was added at the southern end of the quay. It was a very difficult course for the primitive aeroplanes of the time. Landplanes would have to take off towards the sea, make a tight 180-degree turn into the harbour and then make a 90-degree turn to the right in order to enter the timed course. The course was almost completely over water and the planes had to gain some altitude in order to fly over land when rounding Cap Martin. Although the course in itself was probably not too bad, take-off and landing would require real precision flying, and would probably have been completely impossible in windy conditions. One writer observed that the only pilot who had a reasonable chance to complete the course without special training was Wilbur Wright, who was in France at the time but he didn't enter. Even though some other famous flyers, notably Farman and Blériot, also decided against participating 36 planes and pilots paid the 100 francs entry fee: Léon Delagrange Voisin Léon Delagrange Voisin Lieut. Bourgeat Antoinette Soc. Antoinette Antoinette IV René Demanest Antoinette V Louis Breguet Breguet-Richet 2 bis helicopter Louis Breguet Breguet biplane Baron de Caters Voisin Ateliers Vuitton-Huber Vuitton helicopter Roger Ravaud Ravaud Aéroscaphe Andrew Fletcher Voisin Henri Fournier Voisin Henri Rougier Voisin John Koch Voisin? Michel Clemenceau Wright Michel Clemenceau Wright Ostas Zewski ? Marquis d'Equevilly Equevilly-Monjustin multiplane Brissand Biplane Wilkes Wilkes biplane Dennisel Dennisel & Godville Helicoplan Godville Dennisel & Godville Helicoplan Hansen ? Armand Zipfel Voisin Soc. d'Étude d'Aviation ? (biplane) Levi ? (biplane) Hornstein ? (biplane) Antonio Fernandez Fernandez biplane Raoul Vendôme Vendôme monoplane Henri Fabre Fabre hydro-monoplane René Bertrand Bertrand monoplane Petit ? Gabriel Seguin Seguin? Sergeant ? "An Italian flyer" ? Henry de Puybadet Voisin However, many of the pilots were completely unknown and several of the planes were untested, or perhaps not even built. The list of entrants includes some of early aviation's most weird and wonderful machines, such as the Equevilly multiplane and the tunnel-fuselage Bertrand monoplane. Several flyers who would later become well-known, such as Rougier, Fournier, Zipfel and Breguet had only ordered or started building their planes at the time of entry, and were in no way prepared to fly them. M. de Puybadet had to appeal to the race committee in order to be accepted as an entrant his entry had been delayed by a strike of the telegraph workers and missed the deadline! In the end it appears that only one plane actually turned up: Roger Ravaud's "Aéroscaphe". This was a rather unusual floatplane with tandem biplane wing cells with a span of only 3.25 m (10 ft 8 in) and a horizontally mounted 50 horsepower Gnôme which drove contra-rotating pusher propellers via a vertical driveshaft. It was actually entered in both the airplane race and in the annual Monaco boat race, also to be run during the spring! Unlikely as it might seem, it crashed during a test flight The grand Monaco race came to nothing, and the president of the "Sporting-Club International" is quoted as saying "Monaco is ready for this race, in case the aviators are still not". The failed event was surrounded by quite a bit of controversy. Some people called the flyers cowards for not taking on the insignificant distance of 10 kilometres, especially since it would be safer to make an emergency landing in the water than on land, while other people stated that the proposed course was crazy at the current state of aviation and that the flyers who entered were only cynically exploited for marketing "the Sodom of the Côte d'Azur" (BENT THROTTLES - 46). KEYWORDS:Antoinette/photo. Bookseller Inventory # 42103

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