Centenary of Rheims Flying Machine Race Meeting

This week marks the centenary of the La Grande Semaine d’Aviation de la Champagne held at the current site of the Reims Airbase BA112, according to Flightglobal user Stephen Wolf on 22-29 August 1909.

Flight wrote a pre-show report it in its 14 August issue, in which it said: ”The Grand Semaine de Champagne will commence [22 August], and in view of the long list of prominent aviators who have promised to take part in the various contests, this will go down to history as the first great meeting of aeroplanes. Its most prominent event will be the first contest for the Gordon-Bennett Aviation Trophy.”

There was to be a race in which competitors must cover two circuits of the 10km course. “The one who covers it in the fastest time wins a £500 trophy for his club and £1000 for himself.”

Great Britain was to be represented by Mr. G. B. Cockburn on a Farman biplane, and America by Mr. Glenn Curtiss on a machine of his own design.

In Flight’s 28 August issue, its leader piece said: “The Rheims meeting marks an epoch in the history of mechanical aerial locomotion. It is the first occasion on which a wide variety of machines has been brought together, and on which one has been pitted against the other day after day…”

Mr Wolf said: “The joy of flying was captured in the displays, and was a fitting tribute to those brave pioneers of 100 years ago, where every flight was an adventure destined for the record books…..

“I hope this centenary will get a mention on the FlightGlobal website, particularly as there are some great articles on the event in the annals of Flight.”

Pictures of the Rheims 1909 aviators


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