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100 years ago: Danger of flying machines

25 May 2011

The Church Times. May 26th, 1911.

[Disaster marred the start of the Paris-Madrid Air Race in Issy les Moulineaux, when a monoplane crashed into a group of national dignitaries. It was reported that the pilot, Train, was trying to avoid a troop of cuirassiers who had galloped under his plane in order to hold back the crowd, which had surged forward for a better view.]

NOT only for those who fly, but also for those who dare not trust themselves to the air, the new art of aviation is fraught with danger. An aeroplane descending or beginning to rise near a great throng of spec­tators is full of horrible possibil­ities. On Sunday last this fact was sadly illustrated at Issy, where a French crowd of 400,000 persons was watching an aerial flight, and a falling aeroplane killed the Minister of War [M. Maurice Berteaux] and grievously injured the Prime Minister of France [M. Ernest Monis]. King George has expressed on the behalf of all of us the sympathy we feel towards our neighbours and friends in what is for them a national calamity. Mean­while, for ourselves there is, per­haps, a lesson that we may well take to heart. At the approaching Corona­tion some daring aviator might have been tempted to try a sensational flight over the pro­cessional route, thronged though it would be with spectators. The Aero Club authorities are doing their best to discountenance such audacities, but it looks as though some higher authority ought to intervene, making the conse­quences serious for anyone thus endangering the lives of the people in the streets.

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