13 January 1908

Henry Farman and the Voisin-Farman I win the Grand Prix de l’aviation, for flying a circular course of more than one kilometer, 13 January 1908. (Library of Congress)
Henry Farman and the Voisin-Farman I win the Grand Prix de l’aviation, for flying a circular course of more than one kilometer, 13 January 1908. (Library of Congress)

13 January 1908: Henry Farman flew a circular one kilometer course at Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, in 1 minute, 28 seconds to win the Grand Prix de l’aviation, a prize of 50,000 francs, which had been offered by Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe in 1904.

Henri Deutsch de le Muerth, portrait by Leon Joseph Florentin Bonnat, 1913. (Musee Bonnat, Bayonne, France)
Henri Deutsch de le Muerthe, portrait by Leon Joseph Florentin Bonnat, 1913. (Musee Bonnat, Bayonne, France)

Henri Deutsch de le Muerthe (1846–1919) was a wealthy French businessman with a strong interest in aviation. He was one of the founders of the Aéro-Club de France. Along with Ernest Archdeacon, he sponsored a series of prizes to promote advances in flight.

The single-place single-engine biplane was built by brothers Charles and Gabriel Voisin, and was very similar to the Voisin-Delagrange I which they had built several months earlier. Henry Farman had requested some slight modifications. He first flew the airplane 30 September 1907.

Farman had previously won the Coupe d’Aviation Ernest Archdeacon (Ernest Archdeacon Cup) when he flew his Voisin-Farman I a distance of approximately 771 meters (2,530 feet) in 52 seconds, 26 October 1907.

The Voisin-Farman I was 44 feet, 2 inches (13.462 meters) long, with a wingspan of 35 feet, 5 inches (10.795 meters) and weighed 705 pounds (319.8 kilograms) and gross weight of 1,213 pounds (550 kilograms).

The airplane was powered by a steam-cooled, direct-injected, 487.14 cubic-inch-displacement (7.983 liter) Société Antoinette 8V 90° V-8 direct-drive engine producing 53 horsepower at 1,100 r.p.m. The engine turned a two-bladed pusher propeller. It was designed by Léon Levavasseur. The engine was 1.120 meters (3 feet, 8 inches) long, 0.630 meters (2 feet, 1 inch) wide and (0.540 meters (1 foot, 9 inches) high. It weighed 95 kilograms (209 pounds).

Charles Voisin and Henry Farman, 1907
Charles Voisin and Henry Farman, 1907. (Unattributed)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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