7 February 1920: Joseph Sadi-Lacointe was the first pilot to set a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Speed Record after the end of World War I. At Villacoublay, France, Sadi-Lecointe flew an Avion Nieuport—Type Gordon Bennett 1920 ¹ over a 1 kilometer (0.621 mile) course at an average speed of 275.86 kilometers per hour (171.41 miles per hour).²
Sadi-Lecointe’s Ni-D 29V was one of three racing variants of the highly successful single-engine, single-seat Ni-D 29 C.1 biplane fighter, which was the fastest in the world at the time.
Like the chasseur (fighter), the Ni-D 29V was a single-bay biplane. It was 6.200 meters (20 feet, 4.1 inches) long, with a wing span of just 6.000 meters (19 feet, 8.2 inches), shortened from the 31 feet, 10 inch (9.703 meters) wingspan of the standard production airplane. The airplane’s height was 2.500 meters (8 feet, 8.4 inches). It weighed 936 kilograms (2,064 pounds), empty. Maximum fuel capacity was 160 kilograms (353 pounds).
The airplanes were altered over time, with variations in wing span. For example, for one speed record attempt, the engine output was increased to 330 horsepower; the two Lamblin radiators were removed to reduce aerodynamic drag; and fuel capacity was restricted to just 40 kilograms (88 pounds). The resulting speed was 302.313 km/h (187.849 miles per hour).³
The airplane was powered by a water-cooled, normally aspirated, 18.473 liter (1,127.265-cubic-inch displacement) right-hand tractor Hispano-Suiza 8Fb single overhead cam (SOHC) 90° V-8 engine with a compression ratio of 5.3:1. The production engine was rated at 300 cheval vapeur at 2,100 r.p.m. The Ni-D 29V engine modified to increase its output to 320 horsepower. This was a direct-drive engine, and turned a two-bladed-fixed pitch propeller. The engine was 1.32 meters (4 feet, 4 inches) long, 0.89 meters (2 feet, 11 inches) wide, and 0.88 meters (2 feet, 10½ inches) high. It weighed 256 kilograms (564 pounds).
Engine cooling was provided by Lamblin cylindrical radiators mounted under the lower wing.
The standard airplane had a top speed of 235 kilometers per hour (146 miles per hour), a range of 580 kilometers (360 miles) and a service ceiling of 8,500 meters (27,887 feet).
Joseph Sadi-Lecointe learned to fly in 1910. The Aero Club de France awarded him its license number 431 on 10 February 1910.
He joined the Service Aéronautique (the original form of the French Air Force) as a mechanic in October 1912, and was designated pilote militaire nº375, 20 September 1913. He served as a pilot during World War I, flying the Blériot XI-2, Morane LA and Nieuprt X, then in December 1915 became a flight instructor at l’Ecole de Pilotage d’Avord. Sadi-Lacointe was promoted from the enlisted ranks to sous-lieutenant, 17 September 1917, and was assigned as a test pilot at Blériot–Société Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés, where he worked on the development of the famous SPAD S.XIII C.1 fighter.
After the War, he was a test pilot for Nieuport-Delâge, and participated in numerous races and set a series of speed and altitude records with the company’s airplanes.
Sadi-Lecointe returned to military service in 1925 and participated in the Second Moroccan War. Then in 1927, he returned to his position as chief test pilot for Nieuport-Delâge. From 1936 to 1940, he served as Inspecteur général de l’aviation civile (Inspector General of Aviation) for the French Air Ministry. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Lieutenant Colonel Sadi-Lecointe was again recalled to military service as Inspector of Flying Schools.
With the Fall of France, Sadi-Lacointe joined La Résistance française, and operated with the group, Rafale Andromède. He was captured and tortured by the Gestapo at Paris, and died as a result, 15 July 1944.
Joseph Sadi-Lecointe, Commandeur Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, was awarded the Croix de Guerre in three wars. He was posthumously awarded the Médaille de la Résistance. The Aéro-Club de France awarded him its Grande Médaille d’Or de l’Aéro-Club de France. During his flying career, Sadi-Lecointe set seven World Records for Speed, and three World Records for Altitude.
MORT POUR LA FRANCE
¹ The Avion Nieuport—Type Gordon Bennett 1920 is also known as the Nieuport-Delâge NiD 29V
4 November 1909: John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon (later, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, GBE, MC, PC) flew a small pig in a wicker basket tied to a strut of his Short Brothers Biplane No. 2. He flew approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers).
Short Brothers Ltd., founded in 1897 as a balloon manufacturer, began building airplanes in 1908. It was the first company to build production airplanes. The Short Biplane No. 2 was designed by Horace Leonard Short. It was similar to the Wright Brothers Model A Flyer, which Short Brothers had been building under license in the United Kingdom. Rather than the Wright’s system of wing-warping, the Biplane No. 2 used ailerons. The first production batch consisted of six airplanes.
The Biplane No. 2 was 32 feet, 0 inches in length (9.754 meters) with a wingspan of 48 feet, 8 inches (14.834 meters). Its gross weight was 1,485 pounds (674 kilograms).
The Short Biplane No. 2 was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 8.990 liter (548.602-cubic-inch) Green Engine Co., Ltd., D.4 single overhead camshaft inline 4-cylinder engine, which produced 61.6 horsepower at 1,150 r.p.m., and turned two wooden 2-bladed propellers in a pusher configuration, by means of chain drive. The Green engine produced 67.8 horsepower at 1,210 r.p.m. during a 7 minute maximum power test. The Green D.4 was 44 inches (1.118 meters) long, 33½ inches (0.851 meters) high and 17 inches (0.432 meters) wide. It weighed 287 pounds (130.2 kilograms) with the flywheel.
The Short Biplane No. 2 had a maximum speed of approximately 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour).
23–26 March 1932: At 6:00 a.m., local time, Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot and Maurice Rossi took off from Es-Sénia aerodrome near Oran, French Algeria (Algérie française), in an attempt to break their own Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance Over a Closed Circuit Without Landing, set the previous year.¹ Their airplane was the same Blériot-Zappata 110, F-ALCC, which set the earlier record. It was named Joseph Le Brix, in honor of another aviator killed the year before.
With good weather, the airplane averaged 146 kilometers per hour (90.7 miles per hour) for 60 hours. The pilots initially ran the V-12 engine at 1,950 r.p.m., but gradually reduced that to 1,400 r.p.m., as the airplane burned off fuel and became lighter. On the third day, Bossoutrot and Rossi encountered strong winds and rain squalls, and at times the Blériot-Zappata’s ground speed dropped to just 90 kilometers per hour (55.9 miles per hour).
At 10:35 a.m., Saturday, after 76 hours, 35 minutes in the air, Bossoutrot and Rossi landed at Es-Sénia. They had flown a distance of 10,601.48 kilometers (6,587.45 miles), setting a new FAI world record.² (They also exceeded their previous World Record for Duration ³ by 1 hour, 12 minutes, though no new record is listed on the FAI’s Internet web site.)
The Blériot-Zappata 110 was an experimental long-range airplane ordered by France’s Service Technique de l’Aéronautique, the government agency responsible for coordinating aviation research. It was designed by Italian aeronautical engineer Filippo Zappata and built by Blériot Aéronautique S.A.
The airplane was a single-engine, two-place, high-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear. (A contemporary news article referred to it as a “monomotor monoplane.”)
The pilot and co-pilot navigator were positioned in tandem behind the fuselage fuel tanks. Their outward view was very restricted, with only two small port holes on each side. The forward view was provided by angled mirrors acting as a periscope. There was a bunk located behind the seats for crew rest.
A technical description of the Blériot 110 appeared in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Aircraft Circular No. 138, which also contains many technical illustrations of the airplane’s construction. The Blériot 110 was 14.57 meters (47.80 feet) long with a wingspan of 26.50 meters (86.94 feet) and height (to the top of its cabane strut) of 4.90 meters (16.08 feet). The wing had an area of 81 square meters (872 square feet). Its empty weight was 2,400 kilograms (5,291 pounds) and the gross weight was 7,300 kilograms (16,094 pounds).
The airplane’s wing was built in three sections so that it could be disassembled for ground or sea transportation. The wing had two spruce spars with an oblique aileron support spar that increased its torsional strength but contributed to the airplanes overall light weight. The ribs were of plywood, braced by steel cables. The wing was covered with plywood.
The wing was braced by two steel struts on each side, and a system of wires above, connecting to the upper cabane strut, and below, to the fuselage.
The fuselage cross section was rounded at the top, narrowing to a single keel. It was built of frames and longerons which were then covered with three layers of diagonal 5 centimeter-wide whitewood strips, glued and nailed, each layer overlapping the one below at a 45° angle.
Fuel was carried in four fuselage tanks and two wing tanks. The total capacity was 7,020 liters (1,854 gallons).
As originally built, the Blériot-Zappata 110 was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 31.403 liter (1916.351 cubic-inch-displacement) Société Française Hispano-Suiza 12 Lbr, a single-overhead-camshaft (SOHC) 60° V-12 engine with a compression ratio of 6.2:1. The engine had a nominal rating of 600 cheval vapeur at 2,000 r.p.m. (592 horsepower), and 640 cheval vapeur for takeoff (631 horsepower). This engine used a 2:1 propeller reduction gear and drove a two-bladed propeller. The engine was 1.939 meters (6.362 feet) long, 0.756 meters (2.480 feet) wide and 1.028 meters (3.373 feet) high. With the reduction gear unit, it weighed 485 kilograms (1.069 pounds).
For the March 23–26 flight, the original engine was replaced by a 27.077 liter (1,652.364 cubic inch displacement) Hispano-Suiza 12 Mc 500 CV électron. This was also a water-cooled, normally-aspirated SOHC 60° V-12. It was a direct-drive engine with a compression ratio of 7:1, and drove a four-bladed propeller. This engine was rated at 500 cheval vapeur at 2,000 r.p.m. (493 horsepower), and a maximum of 640 cheval vapeur at 2,200 r.p.m. (631 horsepower). The cylinders had hardened (nitrided) steel liners, and the crankcase was made of an aluminum/magnesium alloy called Elektron. The 12 Mc was 1.982 meters (6.503 feet) long, 0.760 meters (2.493 feet) wide and 0.920 meters (3.018 feet) high. It weighed 390 kilograms (860 pounds).
The Blériot-Zappata 110 had a maximum speed of 210 kilometers per hour (130 miles per hour). Its ceiling at maximum gross weight was 2,000 meters (6,562 feet). The airplane had maximum range of more than 12,000 kilometers (7,456 miles).
F-ALCC set a number of world records. In 1933 it was transported to America aboard the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique passenger liner S.S. Champlain. Maurice Rossi and Paul Codos flew it non-stop from New York City, New York, to Rayak, Syria, a distance of 9,106.33 kilometers (5,658.41 miles).⁴ ⁵ The airplane was scrapped in 1935.
Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot was born 16 May 1890, at Tulle, Corrèze, Nouvelle-Aquitane, République française. He was the son of Antonin Bossoutrot, an armurier (gunsmith), and Antoinette Nouailhac. He made his first airplane flight in 1910, while employed at a bank. His pilot license, No. 1856, was issued 1 April 1915 by the Aéro-Club de France. The following month, 19 May 1915, he became a pilot in the Aéronautique Militaire. In 1917, he bombed the iron ore mines at Briey, Meurethe-et-Moselle. While this source supplied iron ore to Germany, it also supplied France. Bossoutrot was placed under arrest by General Phillipe Pétain.
Bossoutrot was assigned as an acceptance test pilot at Avions Farman. He helped Henri Farman in the development of instrument panels for airplanes. He continued working for Farman after the War.
Bossoutrot served in the military for 7 years, 4 months. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with three citations.
On 8 February 1919, Bossoutrot flew a Farman F.60 Goliath from Paris to London, carrying twelve passengers and an aircraft mechanic. This is believed to have been the first international commercial passenger flight. In August 1919, Bossoutrot flew an F.60 Goliath while pioneering the Paris-to-Dakar air route.
The journey was made in several stages. Bossoutrot, along with eight passengers, departed from Mogador on 15 August. A radio message was sent at 5:45 a.m., 16 August, requesting wind information at Dakar, but the airplane did not arrive. Because of a loss of one of its propellers, at 7:30 a.m., Bossoutrot made a forced landing on a beach approximately 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of St. Louis. There were no injures, but the airplane was damaged beyond repair.
One 13 November 1920, Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot was appointed Chevalier de la légion d’honneur.
On 23 August 1925 Bossoutrot was promoted to Officier de la Légion d’honneur.
When Air France was formed in 1933, Bossoutrot was its first captain.
In 1934, Bossoutrot was promoted to Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur.
Bossoutrot entered politics in the 1930s and was elected to the Assemblée nationale (the national legislature) as a Radical Socialist. He led the Commission on Aeronautics and the Committee of Commerce and Industry in the Chamber of Deputies. These positions allowed him to travel extensively through Europe and the Soviet Union. He raised his concerns to the legislature about the rearmament of Germany which he had seen, but his warnings were generally ignored.
After the surrender of France to Nazi Germany in 1940, Bossoutrot initially supported Marshal Pétain, but later changed his opinion. Because of his opposition, he was arrested by the Vichy government in February 1943. He was held for fifteen months before he was able to escape and join La Résistance française.
Lucien Bossoutrot was married three times. He had a daughter from his first marriage. He had flown more that 7,000 hours, and set at least 36 FAI world records.
Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot, Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur, died 1 September 1958 at Viry-Châtillon, Seine-et-Oise, France. He was buried at the cimitère des Batignolles, in Paris.
Maurice Rossi was born 24 April 1901 at Leverdure, La Séfia, Algérie française (French Algeria). He is credited with ten FAI world records. He died in Paris, France, 29 August 1966.
¹ FAI Record File Number 9514: 8,822.32 kilometers (5,481.94 miles), 1 March 1931
² FAI Record File Number 9292: 10,601.48 kilometers (6,587.45 miles, 26 March 1932
³ FAI Record File Number 9513: Duration in a Closed Circuit, 75 hours, 23 minutes, 7 seconds, 1 March 1931
⁴ FAI Record File Number 9297: Distance in a Straight Line, 9,104.70 kilometers (5,657.40 miles), 7 August 1933
⁵ FAI Record File Number 9,301: Distance in a Broken Line, 9,106.33 kilometers (5,658.41 miles), 7 August 1933