Gabriel Voisin

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Gabriel Voisin (February 5, 1880) was an aviation pioneer and the creator of Europe's first manned, engine-powered, heavier-than-air aircraft capable of a sustained (1 km), circular, controlled flight, including take-off and landing. It was flown by Henry Farman on January 13, 1908 near Paris, France. During World War I, Gabriel Voisin became a major producer of military aircraft, notably the Voisin III. Later on, he switched to design and production of exceptional automobiles under the name Avions Voisin.

Early biography

He was born at Belleville-sur-Saône, France, and his brother Charles Voisin, two years younger than he, was his best friend. When his father abandoned the family, his mother, Amélie, took her sons home to Neuville-sur-Saône, where they settled near her father's factory.

Their grandfather, Charles Forestier, took charge of the boys' education with military rigor. The boys also went for expeditions along the river, went fishing, and built numerous contraptions. When his grandfather died, Gabriel was sent to school in Lyon and Paris where he learned industrial design, a field in which he was exceptionally gifted. However, he often returned home, and by the end of the century, the brothers had built, among other things, a rifle, a steam boat, a glider, and an automobile.

After completing his...
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