Massia-Biot

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Biot And His Glider - ca. 1883
Biot And His Glider - ca. 1883

      Gaston Biot was inspired by Louis Pierre Mouillard's 1881 highly influential book "L'Empire de L'Air", and a year later Biot demonstrated a model gliding machine to the French Society for Aerial Navigation which was based on Mouillard's work. Biot teamed with Massia to build a glider, with which several flights (probably short hops) were made by Biot. On one of those flights Biot suffered injuries in an accident. Mouillard believed that if Biot (who could not swim) had not been afraid of water, he should have experimented over water, but instead (as Mouillard wrote to Octave Chanute) Biot made a "... clumsy flight over dry ground where you are apt to break your arms and legs twenty times and your head to boot. I severely reprimanded him and advised him to make use of a river or lake as a landing place. However, he replied that he cannot swim and that he is very much afraid of water. There must be a good deal of truth in what he wrote to me for he discontinued his experiments."

      It is believed that Massia provided the funding for the glider and in 1887 Gaston Biot designed and built the 55 pound gliding machine which had a 27 foot wing span. This is in accord with Octave Chanute who dated the large Massia-Biot gliding machine to 1887. The Musee de L'Air appears to date the large gliding machine to 1879 (as well as 1882-1884) though it was built after the 1882 model. The Massia-Biot gliding machine, which is said to be the oldest surviving human-carrying aerial machine in existence, is on display at the Musee de l'Air.

      An image of the Massia-Biot gliding machine can be seen by linking to this web page. Note that the apparently erroneous date of 1879 is cited for the glider.

      Another image of the Massia-Biot gliding machine can be seen by linking to this web page. This page's French text may be translated using Google's language tools.

      A request has been made of the Musee de L'Air to clarify the date(s) assigned to the Massia-Biot gliding machine. When additional information or a clarification is received, it will be posted on this page.

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