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Timeline of aviation events 1909–1911:

(See also Exhibitions and conferences by year)

1909

1910

1911

French dominance of exhibition circuit

Hallion, 2003, p. 316:

France owed its dominance of European and international aeronautics to the unabated and energetic expansion of its aviation industry, first evident and Reims. By 1912 French aircraft clearly constituted the "gold standard" of international design, holding all significant records. A review of all unrestricted international air competitions held between 1909 and 1914—that is, air competitions open to all entrants and not limited to, say, just French or British or German designs—demonstrates how rapidly French aviation predominated. Out of 14 competitions, French aircraft (flown by French or non-French airmen) won 11, a staggering 79 percent. French aviators or airmen flying French aircraft won the first German and British national air competitions. That proved too much: not surprisingly, both countries quickly limited their national competitions to entrants flying their own airplanes, not those originating in other countries.

Zeitgeist

Alphonse Berget:

The year 1908 was one of experiments in aerial navigation; 1909 is the year of the most brilliant achievements.

In 1908 the magnificent experiments of the Wright Brothers excited the admiration of all to a supreme degree; and in the month of October of the same year two audacious aviators, Farman and Blériot, leaving their experimenting grounds, boldly set out into the realm of practice. On October 30 Farman accomplished the first "aerial voyage," by traveling from Châlons to Rheims, passing over villages, forests, and hills; and the next day Blériot achieved the first "cross-country" journey in a closed circle between Toury and Artenay, making two descents en route, and restarting under his own effort, without any launching apparatus, finally returning to his starting point.

The "Conquest of the Air," commenced in 1885 by the first dirigible, La France, built by Colonel Renard, is to-day asserted in the new development—aviation.

But now, in 1909, our human birds have excelled. By a remarkable flight, Blériot, more fortunate than his rival, Latham, who came to grief off his destination, succeeded in crossing the Channel on July 25, thus realising through the atmosphere that entente cordiale made between the two nations; and in the month of August, on the plain of Bethany, near Rheims, in the first "aviation meeting" that has been held, all previous records were beaten. Paulhan, upon a biplane built by Voisin, covered 131 kilometres; Latham, on an Antoinette monoplane, traversed 154.500 kilometres without a stop; and Henri Farman, in a triumphant continuous flight, ultimately completed 180 kilometres in 3 hours 4 minutes 56 seconds. IN addition to these marvellous exploits, Hubert Latham, striving to secure the victory for height, rose to 156 meters; and Curtis, the American, won the speed trophy by travelling 30 kilometres in 21 minutes 15 seconds—that is to say, flew at 75 kilometres per hour.

If one also recalls the fact that it was in the course of this same year, 1909, that the two most remarkable voyages were accomplished by dirigible balloons, which have definitely asserted the possibility of their practical application, one will understand that the highway of the atmosphere is now open and that the "Conquest of the Air" has become an accomplished fact.

(The Conquest of the Air: Aeronautics, Aviation: history, theory practice, 1909)

Discovered on archive.org: a vast collection of aeronautical songs (sheet music and cover art).

Predictions

Henry Litchfield West

"If only the same proportion of increase is maintained, the year 2000 will see a distance of 600 miles covered in an hour—the journey from Washington to Chicago occupying only 70 or 80 minutes. This seems incredible but is not more marvelous than it would have seemed in 1800 to suggest that the 40 miles between Washington and Baltimore could be traveled in 40 minutes."

"The limitations imposed by the attraction of gravitation upon land and by the frictional resistance of an almost solid mass of water at sea suggest that, after all, the great discoveries of the coming century, in the matter of transportation, will be in the navigation of the air. . . . The time is not far distant when aerial cars will ply between great centers of population, arriving and departing upon fixed schedules and carrying their human cargoes. . . . Aerial navigation seems to be the only method now apparent by which time and space can be more completely annihilated than it is at present."

Henry Litchfield West, Washington Post, 31 December 1901; quoted in Hallion, 2003, p. 183.

H. G. Wells

"Few people, I fancy, who know of the work of Langley, Lilienthal, Pilcher, Maxim, and Chanute but will be inclined to believe that long before the year A.D. 2000, and very probably before 1950, a successful aeroplane will have soared and come home safe and sound."

H. G. Wells, Anticipations (1902), p. 208; quoted in Hallion, 2003, p. 183.

Other comments

"And if man were to learn to fly – woe, to what heights would his rapaciousness fly?"

Friederich Nietzsche, Also sprach Zarathustra ; quoted in Wohl, 1994, Passion for Wings p. 3