Fabre, Henri

b. 29 November 1882 Marseilles, France
d. June 1984 France
French engineer, designer of the first seaplane, in which he made the first flight from water.
After obtaining a degree in engineering, Fabre specialized in hydrodynamics. Around 1904 he developed an interest in flying and followed the progress of early French aviators such as Archdeacon, Voisin and Blériot who were experimenting with float-gliders. Fabre carried out many experiments during the following years, including airflow tests on various surfaces and hydrodynamic tests on different designs for floats. He also built a propeller-driven motor car to develop the most efficient design for a propeller. In 1909 he built his first "hydro-aeroplane", but it failed to fly. By March 1910 he built a new float plane which was very different from contemporary French aeroplanes. It was a tail-first (canard) monoplane and had unusual Warren girder spars exposed to the airstream. The engine was a conventional Gnome rotary mounted at the rear of the machine. On 28 March 1910 Fabre, who had no previous experience of flying, decided he was ready to test his hydro-aeroplane. First he made several straight runs to test the planing properties of his three floats, then he made several short hops. In the afternoon Fabre took off from the harbour at La Mède near Marseille before official witnesses: he was able to claim the first flight by a powered seaplane. His hydro-aeroplane is preserved in the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace in Paris.
Despite several accidents, Fabre continued to improve his design and in October of 1910 Glenn Curtiss, the American designer, visited Fabre to compare notes. A year later Curtiss built the first of his many successful seaplanes. Fabre did not continue as an aircraft designer, but he went on to design and manufacture floats for other people.
1980, J'ai vu naître l'aviation, Grenoble (autobiography).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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