What do airplanes have to do with Aunt Daisy? Living in Alsace-Lorraine on the Western Front during the war, and rebuilding Vitrimont after German bombings - she had first-hand experience with these planes, even writing about visiting the airbase near the forest of Parroy. She also knew a few fliers. One pilot married Ethel Mary Crocker and flew over the Vitrimont church on her wedding day "dropping" flowers. More on this gentleman in a later post - for now if you're interested - Aéroplanes of the first world war - believe me your first bike had more metal parts!
This rare war film footage from 1914 to 1917 records aviation before the US officially entered the war and highlights the planes in use with names reflecting early pioneers and designers in the industry (see more airplane WWI history and list below).
Rare WWI Aviation FoOtage
French aviation has a long interesting history. From 1783, when Rozier and d'Arlandes pioneered human flight in a hot air balloon to 1785 when Jean-Pierre Blanchard crossed the English Channel on board a hydrogen balloon with a passenger, the French have had many firsts. Fixed wing Aviation in France dates back to the early 1900s where the country's first fixed wing flight was recorded in 1909 by Louis Blériot.
France expected to face Germany again after their Franco-Prussian war defeat in 1871 and was looking for military advantages. By December 1909, the army had members from all branches enrolled in civilian flight training schools. In 1910, the Établissement Militaire d'Aviation (EMA) was created to conduct experiments with aircraft. Military aviation exercises from 1911 - 1913 had pioneered cooperation with the cavalry (reconnaissance) and artillery (spotting). The Aéronautique Militaire became the world's first "air force" with five squadrons or escadrilles trained by 1912 as part of the army.
On August 3, 1914 Germany declared war against France, the world leader in aircraft design and manufacturing with 132 machines and 21 escadrilles. By October 8, a massive expansion was proposed - 65 escadrilles with four types of aircraft designated: scouts, bombers, reconnaissance and artillery spotters.
France also had active aviation design and manufacturing capabilities:
Gabriel Voisin and Ernest Archdeacon - Syndicat d'Aviation, 1905.
Louis Blériot and Voisin - Blériot-Voisin Co., 1905.
Gabriel and Charles Voisin - Voisin Fréres, 1906.
Henri Farman - Farman Co., 1909.
Henri and Maurice Farman - Société Henri et Maurice Farman, 1912.
Louis Breguet and Charles Richet - Société des Ateliers d'Aviation, 1909.
Jules Gastambide. and Léon Levavasseur - Antoinette Co., 1908.
Edouard de Niéuport -The Société Anonyme des Establissements Nieuport, 1910.
Léon Morane and Raymond Saulnier - Sociéte Anonyme des Aéroplanes. 1911.
Armand Deperdussin and Louis Béchereau, Société Pour les Appareils Deperdussin* (SPAD), 1910.
*Acquired by Blériot 1913
Angelucci, Enzo and Matricardi, Paolo. World Aircraft – Origins-World War I. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1975.
Gibbs-Smith, Charles H. Flight Through the Ages. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., Inc., 1974.
Millbrooke, Anne. Aviation History. Jeppesen Sanderson Training Products. Englewood, Colo.: Jeppesen Opdycke, Leonard E. French Aeroplanes Before the Great War. Atglen, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing, 1999.
Stoff, Joshua. Picture History of Early Aviation, 1903-1913. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1996.
National Archive Footage www.archive.gov
Raw digitized film is available uncut and often mislabeled or badly captioned on the archive site. This footage came from several different reels of general World War I film taken by the French Army and some was captioned as France Pathé exchange. It is shown here with enhanced coloring, crops, cuts and corrections, speeds are adjusted and new captions added. Still, the film was not in great shape - so we do our best with modern technologies.
Some stories that couldn't make the book in full ... but need to be told! Editors welcomed - sign up below.