FIRST PASSENGER FLIGHT ACROSS THE CHANNEL
PARIS to TILMANSTONE

 

 

John B. Moisant with two local people at Tilmanstone

 

On August 17, 1910  John B. Moisant, an American citizen of Chicago, flew across the English channel from Calais to Tilmanstone with a passenger and, by this achievement could be said to have surpassed the feats of Bleriot, De Lesseps and the unfortunate English aviator Rolls, who met his death at Bournemouth.

In 1909 John Moisant, a wealthy plantation owner, became interested in aviation after watching the 1909 Reims Air Meet in France.   He built his own plane, the first with an all-metal frame; it flew only a short distance. Moisant took lessons at Louis Blériot's flying school to learn to fly and, after only four lessons, he bought his own Blériot plane, In August 1910, he flew the first passenger flight across the English Channel, carrying his mechanic Albert Fileux.

The channel flight was an incident in the aerial voyage from Paris to London. Moisant left Issy and reached Amiens in two hours.  The next day he left Amiens early, and headed for Calais.  Albert Fileux, his mechanic, took his place in the machine when the motor was set in motion for the dash across the channel.  Amazed spectators  - thousands who had gathered to watch the daring aviator - urged him to discontinue the attempt in the half gale that was blowing. Moissant cared nothing for the warnings and even the fact there was only a slow moving tug to follow him, did not put him off.  The trip was made in 37 minutes. When he descended, his eyes were bloodshot and  inflamed from the effects of the rain storm into which they drove, approaching England.   The rain beat into their faces like hail and almost blinded them.
   Between 300 and 400 feet average height was maintained over the water.  Moisant expected to land at Dover but was forced by the wind to land at Tilmanstone, a few miles north.    Both he and Fileux were benumbed with cold, but Moissant seemed to take his achievement as though it were a daily occurrence.  When he revived he said: 'This is my first visit to England.'  and  'This is only my sixth flight in an aeroplane. I did not know the way from Paris to Calais when I started and I do not know the way to London. I shall have to rely on the compass. I would like to land in Hyde Park if I can find it."
   Moisant's arrival in England was reported as follows: Two-man flight across channel, young American aviator surpasses all feats, flying with a passenger from Paris to British coast. Today, he will attempt to win prize by continuing his flight to London.


   REPORTED ON AUGUST 27, 1910. “PARIS TO LONDON" BY AEROPLANE: We were just able to give details in our last issue regarding Mr. John B. Moisant's flight from Paris to his landing on British soil at Tilmanstone........  It is a little curious that during the first three stages, up to his landing, everything went off without a hitch, but as soon as the aviator landed in Great Britain, his troubles began in the shape of wind and rain. All day on Wednesday he remained at Tilmanstone waiting for the weather to moderate, and eventually he decided to postpone his departure till the following morning. The sun was shining brilliantly on Thursday morning, when shortly before 5 o'clock the machine was wheeled out, and in a few minutes ........  it was in the air, and heading for London. Canterbury was soon passed, and good progress made until Sittingbourne was sighted, when a broken valve-rod necessitated a stop after a flight of 1 hour 5 mins..... A local mechanic effected a repair, and at half past nine the machine once more rose...... Only a short distance had been covered, however, when the engine stopped again ..... a sudden descent at Upchurch, near Rainham, 7 mins. after leaving Sittingbourne.  .......an allotment garden ........ and the machine sank into the soft soil.......  the propeller was done for and the chassis damaged. Mr. Moisant sought the assistance of Messrs. Short Bros., whilst Capt. Hordern, R.E., of Chatham, rendered valuable aid, repairs being effected very quickly...... A new propellor was wired for, but this did not arrive from Paris until Friday morning. It was soon fitted, but then the strong wind rendered it advisable to postpone the start. On Saturday morning Moisant made another trial, but could only advance by between two and three miles...... landed at Gillingham.

   

The Times

Wednesday 17th August 1910

 

The projected Flight to London        Amiens, Aug 10

 

M. Moisant landed here with his aeroplane at half-past 7 this evening on an attempt to fly from Paris to London. M Latham is still detained at La Faloise, where he had a break-down, and is not expected here till to-morrow morning - Reuter.

We understand from a private source that M Latham started yesterday from Issy-les-Moulineaux on a flight to London. He was compelled to descend near Amiens to make some repairs to his machine, but hopes to continue his flight to-day.

 

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The Times

Thursday 25th August 1910

 

Mr Moisant completed the repairs to his damaged aeroplane at Kemsing last evening. It was hauled across two fields to the top of the Kemsing Hills, where his tailpiece and propeller were fixed in position. A strong wind made an ascent last night impossible, but Mr Moisant announced that he hoped to start for London between 5 and 7o'clock this morning.

A Motor-Car Accident

While driving to Kemsing yesterday in a motor-car with two friends Mr A Moisant, brother of the airman, met with an accident. As the car was turning a corner after passing throgh Otford he was thrown from the back of the car and sustained abrasions to his nose and face, and both hands were badly cut. He was taken to Sevenoaks Cottage Hospital, where his wounds were dressed, but he was not detained.

 

 

 

The Times

Wednesday 27th August 1910

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The Times

Wednesday 7th September 1910

 

 

Mr Moisant's Flight completed

 

Mr Moisant completed his voyage to London yesterday evening. He moved his aeroplane at 6 o'clock yesterday morning to a field at Dranes Farm, one of the highest points in Kent, and ascended just before 1 o'clock, accompanied by his mechanic. He went off in the direction of London, but came back again to enable Lady Collet to see him in flight. This bought him over the valley which had previously brought him disaster, and again he met adverse air currents, and aft

Aer going along the valley for about two miles he came down in a corn field just outside Otford Station.

He ascended again about 5 o'clock and succeeded in reaching the Crystal Palace in 27 minutes.