Henri Fabre
Henri Fabre
from the Pioneers
     In the pursuit of successful flight over water, Americans found an endeavor in which they could, at last, take equal honors with the French. To Glenn Curtiss belongs the credit for being the first to build and market a machine capable of landing on and taking off from the surface of the sea.
     Yet the premier success of Curtiss was itself preceeded by the experiments of a Frenchman little known today---Henri Fabre. After the futile experiments of Voisin and Bleriot on the river Seine in 1905 and 1906, French aviation--- indeed aviation everywhere---developed literally from the ground up, instead of from the water. Fabre, however, an inventive marine engineer and navigator, persisted in his original research on the problem of achieving powered flight from a water base. On the Gulf of Fos at Martigues, near Marseilles, he began a series of tests in 1909 with a weird contrivance he had put together during the course of his studies the year before. Resembling a giant dragonfly flying backward, it consisted of a skeleton framework mounted on three scientifically designed floats, with a 50-hp Gnome motor and Chauviere propeller at the rear. On March 28, 1910, Fabre managed to lift his creation from the surface of the sea for the first time. He continued his flights, droning fitfully over the waves for short distances, until May---when the apparatus suddenly took a header into the Mediterranean and was almost totally wrecked. Fabre himself was unhurt. The machine reappeared at Monaco in 1911, during a series of aquatic races at that port; but the engine proved inadequate, and development proceeded no further. However, Fabre's lightweight, hollow wooden floats, which gave a measure of lift in the air as well as on the water, continued to be supplied in one form or another to hydroaeroplane manufacturers in Europe for several years to come. (A memorial to commemorate his first flight at Martigues was dedicated in 1967 by the Russian cosmonaut Uri Gagarin---the first man to fly into outer space.)
FromCONTACT: The Story of the Early Birds

Henri Fabre
Library of Congress Collection

     If you search for "Henri Fabre", using the Google search engine, (12-3-07), you will find about 725 links. Don Campbell has recommended the following websites for special attention.

     This webpage, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, offers a complete review of the seaplane, its types, history, uses and references. It i ncludes a brief reference to Henri Fabre, the builder of the first seaplane. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

Henri Fabre
     This webpage, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, offers a brief biography of Henri and includes a very nice picture of Le Canard, the first seaplane in History. You can access the page by clicking in the title above..

Henri Fabre (1882-1984)
     This page on the HARGRAVE the Pioneers website offers an extensive collection of text and photographs, complete with links to the original sources. You can access it by clicking on the title.

Henri Fabre died in 1984
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
January 1973, Number 79

  Highly Recommended Further Reading:
The Story of the Early Birds
by Henry Serrano Villard
Thomas Y.Crowell Company

  Highly Recommended Link:
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Editor's Note:

Lower on this page you will find a wonderful picture of the First Seaplane, Fabre's Hydravion called "Le Canard". The photograph was provided by Mme Sylvie Berges, Department Head, Musee de l'Hydravation de Biscarrosse.

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