The Heliopolis Committee of Aviation
by Dave Lam, 2-17-05
     The Heliopolis Committee of Aviation, with the assistance and concurrence of the Aeroclub of France, of which it was a foreign “section”, planned the “Grand Semaine de L’Aviation” in Egypt, 6-13 February 1910. Many famous pilots took part: Latham, Rougier, DelaRoche, Jacques Balsan, Le Blon, Hauvette-Michelin, Mortimer-Singer, Metrot, Duray, J. Gobron, de Bray, Hans Grade (German), and de Riensdyk (American). There were actually 13 aviators competing, flying 5 monoplanes and 7 biplanes. A giant lottery was established to draw a crowd— the prize was a Bleriot airplane!! A new airfield was created, not far from the city of Heliopolis, complete with viewing stands for the audience. The postal administration made up and issued a new postal marking to commemorate the event, and a special tramway was set up to transport the crowds.
     Prizes were announced as: total 282,000 Francs (but in the end they only gave out a total of 173,000. Daily prizes of 1000 francs each for altitude, Speed, and distance. 71,000 francs for the greatest distance in a single flight without landing. 63,000 francs for greatest altitude during the competition. 40,000 for the longest total (of all flights) distance. 12,000 francs for the first pilot to travel from Heliopolis to the Pyramids. 20,000 francs for longest flight with a passenger.
     On the opening day, in the presence of the Khedive of Egypt, 40,000 spectators attended. Jacques Balsan was the first to fly in his Bleriot monoplane. That first day, there was an accident in which Jean Gobron crashed his Voisin in flames, but was uninjured. Later, Latham broke his Antoinette. Hauvette Michelin also broke his airplane.
     DelaRoche competed as part of the Voisin team, with which she was affiliated. She was still recovering from a crash at Chalons on 4 Jan 1910.
     That said, the event was not a great success. The first three days were stormy, and the succeeding two days were subject to very high winds which kept most of the aviators on the ground. The Grand Prize of Egypt (for the greatest total distances flown) was won by Henri Rougier, flying a Voisin 153.5 km. Delaroche came in 8th, with a flight of 20 km on the 10th (but won no prize money). Latham and Lablon got 5 km each that day. DelaRoche also came in 12th in competition for the Prize of the Baron Empain (longest flights without landing). It seems that she only got in one good flight during the week. She finally won 1,000 francs, but I can’t tell what for. That put her 7th in the overall winnings category.
     Rouger and Metrot seem to have won the Grand Prix d’Egypte and the Prix du Baron Empain, respectively. Le Blon got the prize for speed, and was second for the Grand Prize. Balsan came in third.
     Sorry to not have much more, but that is all I have in my records at the moment.
Dave Lam

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