The conquesl of the air was, without doubt, man’s greatest achievement. For centuries havier-than-air-flight
had been deemed impossible, yet now problems were confronted and overcome: within a comparatively brief time span the aeroplane became the marvel of the
new 20th century.Private individuals and governments invested fortunes in an assortment of occasionally bizarre “flying machines”, often to discover that their investment had been wasted. But although the quest for powered flight attracted its fair share of charlatans and hare-brained inventors, there were also devoted pioneers, struggling on small incomes, yet sustained by heartfelt convictions and enthusiasm. Once practical aeroplanes began to appear in significant numbers, early flying meetings and competitions generated tremendous excitement, attracting spectators in their thousands. Pilots became heroes overnight, and any aviator making an emergency descent in a remote, apparently deserted field soon found himself surrounded by a swarm of curious, goggle-eyed locals.

Paulhan-Tatin Aero-Torpille

One of the more conspicuous machines at the French military…

Farman III Biplane

The slow but dependable Farma III was the classic pre-World…

Voisin Biplane

French brothers Gabriel and Charles Voisin were Europe's flrst…

Wright flyer III

The Wright Flyer III was the world's first practical powered…

Antoinette Monobloc

French aviation pioneers often favoured elegance and ingenuity over…

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2

A military two-seater, the B.E.2 had the misfortune to become…

Lee-Richards Annular Monoplane

Although never mainstream, the notion of making an aeroplane…

Santos-Dumont Demoiselle

Alberto Santos Dumont's delicate Demoiselle ("damselfly") monoplane was…

Deperdussin Seaplane Racer

Founded in 1910, French businessman Armand Deperdussin's company…