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Your reliable Aviation Book Source since 1989
The cellular biplane that Gabriel Voisin built for Henry Farman is by any standards a major landmark in the history of powered flight. As the first full account of its genesis and two-year evolution, this is the story of its true role in the final lap of the race to fly, particularly in the context of the Wright brothers’ contemporary feats on both sides of the Atlantic.
As well as exploring its impact of society, culture and politics in France, the story reveals how the zigzag of technological progress was driven by the personality of strong characters involved and unpicks the longstanding controversy between the very different approaches adopted by the Old World and the New.
Drawing on contemporary sources wherever possible, it separates the facts from the fiction in a way that invests these extraordinary events with some of the gripping immediacy they must have had at the time.
The result is a compelling portrait of aeronautics in France from 1904 to 1908, complete with an analysis of the technologies concerned, lively accounts of the machine’s epoch-defining flights in France, Belgium and New York, and biographies of all the main protagonists.
Wrights and kites
Les Frères Voisin
Châlons and the first journey
Visions of the future
Biplane to triplane
The makers: Gabriel & Charles Voisin
The flyer: Henry Farman
The assistant: Maurice Herbster
The loyal lieutenant: Maurice Colliex
The catalyst: Ernest Archdeacon
The proselytiser: Ferdinand Ferber
The friend: Henry Kapférer
The opposition: Orville & Wilbur Wright
The conduit: Octave Chanute
The dilettante: Alberto Santos-Dumont
The brains: Robert Esnault-Pelterie
The rival: Louis Blériot
The motorist: Léon Levavasseur
The precursor: Lawrence Hargrave
The engineer: Frederick Lanchester
The scientist: Paul Painlevé
The pilot: John Moore-Brabazon