Great Week of Aviation at Heliopolis
The Great Week of Aviation at Heliopolis was an aero meet which took place in February 1910.
Heliopolis was at the time a newly developed suburb of Cairo intended as a vacation resort for Europeans.
The steamship company Messageries Maritimes offered special round-trip tickets around the time of the event, and also transported many of the participants and their vessels. The event was also heavily promoted to local Arabic-reading audiences. (Some responses, however, were negative, and highlighted the potential role of aircraft in expanding European imperialism.)
Baron Pierre de Caters pre-empted the meet by accomplishing the first airplane flight in Egypt on December 15, 1909. Hayden Sands and Gustav Bruchner also arrived early for unsuccessful attempts to fly around the pyramids. Hubert Latham and Mortimer Singer arrived in January for test flights; both had serious crashes.
Other participants included:
- Henri-Louis Rougier, Jean Gobron, Réné Metrot, and Baroness Raymond de Laroche (a student of Voisin), flying Voisin biplanes
- Jacques Balsan and Hubert Le Blon, flying Blériot monoplanes
- Hauvette Michelin, Antoinette monoplane
- Frederick van Riemsdyk, Curtiss biplane
- Arthur Duray, Farman biplane
- Hans Grade, flying his own aircraft ("Grade monoplane")
Prize money totalled 212,000 francs. Prizes were sponsored by such groups as the Automobile Club of Egypt, the Suez Canal Company, and various hotels and boards aimed at promoting tourism. Ahmad Fu'ad Pasha, president of the Aero Club of Egypt donated a silver and gold cup, in classical Arab style, as a prize. Metrot won the Baron Empain prize for longest distance; Rougier was the biggest winner of daily prizes. Flying weather was imperfect and on some days prohibitive.
The cost of admission was 100 piastres per day or 400 piastres for the whole week. Children and soldiers enjoyed a 50% discount. Estimated attendance: 40,000.
Heliopolis became a British aviation center in Egypt, starting during the war and continuing for several decades. The town of Heliopolis was also successful as a vacation site.
- Gary Leiser, "First Flight Above Egypt: The Great Week of Aviation at Heliopolis, 1910", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, Vol. 20, No. 3, July 2010.
- "Héliopolis (6–13 février)", La Revue Aérienne, 10 Feb 2010, p. 75.
- Gibbs-Smith, Charles. 1970. Aviation: an historical survey from its origins to the end of World War II. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, p157
- "Grande Semaine d'Aviation d'Égypte: Heliopolis, Egypt, February 6th - 13th, 1910", The First Air Races, 2012-2017.
|Event names||Great Week of Aviation at Heliopolis; Grande Semaine d'Aviation d'Égypte|
|Location||Heliopolis (near Cairo)|
|Number of days||8|
|Tech focus||airplane, LTA|