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28th of March 1910

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

2294 days after the first flight at Kitty Hawk by the Wright Brothers another aviation first.

On the 28th of March 1910, the French aviator and aircraft designer Henri Fabre (1892 – 1984) took to the sky in his Fabre Hydravion at Étang de Berre, Martigues, Bouches-du-Rhône. (Approximately 20 miles west of Marseilles). The first powered seaplane in the world took flight over a distance of 1600 ft and reached a maximum altitude of 7 ft. Besides being the first flight of a powered seaplane it was also the first flight for its pilot, Henri Fabre!

The aircraft was a monoplane with a canard configuration, not much different from other aircraft of the era. It “floated” on three floats similar to what we now call Hydrofoils and was powered by a Gnome Ortega 7 cylinder rotary piston engine of 50 hp (37 kW) which drove a two-bladed pusher propeller. This configuration gave the aircraft a maximum speed of 48 kn. The aircraft empty weight was 838 lb and had an All Up Weight of 1047 lbs (estimated). It took Fabre 4 years to develop the aircraft and was assisted by Marius Burdin (mechanic from the French Aircraft designer Louis Ferdinand Ferber) and Lėon Sebille (a naval architect).

On the 12th of April 1911 in Monaco, the aircraft was damaged beyond repair when it crashed under the control of pilot Jean Bécue. The wreck was collected in years later restored and put on display at the Musée de l’air et de l’espace at Le Bourget in France. A second surviving Hydravion is located at the Marseille Provence Airport in Merignane, France.

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