The first successful flight of a seaplane occurred on March 28, 1910. Henri Fabre was the inventor and pilot of the historical flight which took off from Étang de Berre, a lagoon on the Mediterranean coast of France, located about 15.5 miles (25 km) northwest of Marseille.
Interestingly enough Fabre was not a pilot and had no prior flying experience but he flew the floatplane successfully four times that day with the longest flight distance of 1968.5 feet (600 meters)! He patented his system of flotation devices and built floats for other aviation pioneers.
The aircraft used to make the first flight (later to be known as Hydravion) was a canard configured monoplane utilizing a system of beams patented by Fabre to form the fuselage, wings, and tail. It was powered by a 50 HP., seven cylinder Gnome Omega rotary engine driving a two-bladed pusher Chauvière propeller. The Hydravion was equipped with three broad floats: one at the front of the aircraft, the other two mounted on struts extending below the wing.
On April 12, 1911 Hydravion crashed while being flown by Jean Bécue at the Concours de Canots Automobiles de Monaco, resulting in damages that placed the aircraft beyond repair.
|Specifications Fabre Hydravion
• Crew: 1
• Maximum speed: 55 mph