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First seaplane flight, 1910

Jan 12, 2018
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On 28th March 1910, Henri Fabre made the first successful flight in a seaplane at Martigues, near Marseilles. Fabre took four years to design and build the Fabre Hydravion, nicknamed Le Canard (‘The Duck’), aided by the mechanic Marius Burdin and the naval architect Léon Sebille. Le Canard had three floats, a small wing and a control surface at the front, and a large wing at the back, where a Gnome Omega 50 hp rotary piston engine powered the 2.6 metre propeller.

After several unsuccessful attempts during the preceding weeks, Fabre finally achieved a distance of 457m (1500ft) reaching an altitude of over two metres (6ft) above the Étang de Berre on the first of four consecutive flights that day. Following his success, Fabre patented the innovative floats designed by an engineer called Bonnemaison, which provided extra lift to the aircraft and proved popular with other seaplane pioneers. He also went on to design several other seaplanes, setting up a factory to make them during the First World War.

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