No. 12599. Voisin Cellulaire
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Voisin Cellulaire

09/30/2014. Remarks by Kees Kort: "To design and manufacture airplanes the Voisin brothers, Gabriel and Charles, started an aircraft factory in 1906, which was named Appareils d'Aviation les Fréres Voisin. Around that time only very wealthy people could afford to buy and fly aircraft, so their prospect was commercially feeble. Hence they made a clever business plan which consisted not only of making own designs but also building designs of others. When customers wanted the 'standard' Voisin design - a pusher biplane commonly identified as the Voisin Cellulaire - all sorts of adoptions for the client were possible.

The customers who wanted to build their own designs were various and ranged from Ambroise Goupy (a Triplane) till the Russian de Bolotoff (a Triplane) and Henry Farman (several planes). Many rich clients ordered the Voisin Cellulaire and had them somewhat altered, mostly in different engines and an extra nose-wheel to prevent nosing over. Famous clients were Delagrange, Moore-Brabazon, the Belgian de Caters and many others. All these clients had two things in common, they were very wealthy and they were fearless fliers.

In 1909 two Chilean men came to Paris and became equally enthusiastic about flying. Naturally they turned to the Voisin brothers to let them build a plane as there were few others at that time. These wealthy Chileans were José Luis Sánchez Besa and Emilio Edwards Bello (the son of Chilean author Joaquin Edwards Bello). The Voisin Cellulaire biplane they ordered was fairly standard as can be seen from these 1909 vintage photographs. Mark that the names of the duo are painted on the side board of the wing.

Other pictures of the same occasion show the machine with a number '3' on the tail. The machine was entered by the duo in the Reims contest in 1909 known as La Grande Semaine de l'Aviation de la Champagne as '37' hence the 3' followed by a white space. It is reported that Sánchez Besa performed a 0.62 mls (1 km) flight at this contest on August 25, 1909. He is honored as the first Chilean having flown. As ever this is not undisputed as there also reports in favor of his companion Edwards Bello being the first to fly.

Sánchez Besa was active in France till the start of WW I and set up an own factory producing aircraft with a remarkable resemblance to the Voisin designs of the period. At the start of the war he went back to Chili where he designed and built aircraft for the Chilean army. Edwards Bello has not left much of a trail in history."

Created September 30, 2014