Rene Thomas on the left and his riding mechanic in a Delage auto
Thomas won the 1914 Indy 500.
THE MINNEAPOLIS 500 by Noel Allard
(Artimus Images 0087 #10694)

René is Briefly Mentioned
via email from Pete Jones, 7-1-07
Hello Ralph,
      I want to alert you to an early aviator called Bertram Dickson. He was born December 21 1873 in Edinburgh, Scotland and died September 29, 1913 at Lochrosque Castle Scotland. Dickson was a Captain in the British Army but left the army when aeroplanes became popular about 1909. Dickson's claim to fame in early aviation is being involved in the world's first mid-air collision during an air meet in Milan Italy on October 2 1910. The Farman biplane he was flying was rammed from above by Rene Thomas flying an Antoinette monoplane. Dickson survived the crash but didn't fully recover his injuries which led to his early death in 1913. In 1911 he fully saw the need for Britain to have a military flying organisation and went to lengths to impress Home Secretary Winston Churchill. Churchill as it turned out was a flying enthusiast and in 1912 the Royal Flying Corps was formed which in time became the Royal Air Force. These are just some of the things in flying Captain Bertram Dickson accomplished during his short aviation career. Pictures and other information on Bertram Dickson, such as a great photo of his burial site in Scotland, can be found on the following outstanding website:

Captain Bertram Dickson
Undiscovered Scotland: The Ultimate Online Guide

     If you search for "René Thomas" +aviation, using the Google search engine, (6-23-10), you will find about 639 links. Most of them only recount his collision with Captain Dickson. Of special interest is the following, suggested to me by Pete Jones.

Champagne | Berceau de l'aviation du Monde
     On this website you will find three portraits and also two postcards of him. The website is all in French, but even without a translation it is very interesting and helpful. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.


The Story of the Early Birds
Man's first decade of flight from Kitty Hawk to World War I

Henry Serrano Villard
Product Details
Hardcover: 263 pages; 10 x 8 x 1 inches
Publisher: Thomas Y. Crowell Co. (January 1, 1968)
List Price: Out of Print. Used copies available
ASIN: B001NG5I52

Director, National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian Institution

     In today's age of space probes and moon rockets, it is hard to believe that the aeroplane is scarcely sixty years old. Here Henry Serrano Villard, who knew many of the pioneer pilots and flew in their "bits of stick and string,"re-creates the romantic era when man first dared the miracle of flight. His anecdotal account, illustrated with 125 photographs--many from his personal album--covers the decade and a half of aeronautical history from the Wright brothers' exploits at Kitty Hawk to the outbreak of World War I.

     "The Milan meet was marred by the first collision to take place in the air. Captain Bertram Dickson , who had headed the lis tof prize winners at Rouen in June and had won all the prozes in a meet at Tours, was flying his slow Farman over the aerodrome at a height of 40 meters when the Frenchman René Thomas rammed him in the rear with his speedier Antoinette. Both machine were wrecked, and both pilots badly hurt. While there were no immediately fatal consequences, the mishap to Dickson formed the basis of a legend that grew up around him."

     France entered Alfred Leblanc, Count Jacqures de Lesseps, Emile Aubrun, René Simon, and René Barrier, all flying Blériots: Hubert Latham, whop was to captivate New York with his handling of the Antoinette; and Edmond Audemars and Roland Garros, two exponents of the low-slung, low-powered Demoiselle--both of whom had learned by trial and error at Issy-les-Moulineaux and who could be expected to gain little but experience from the meet. René Thomas with his Antoinette had been listed to compete, but was prevented by the aerial collision at Milan."

  Editor's Note:I had the pleasure of knowing Henry for several years before his death. I found him to be a delightful companion and a remarkable source of information on the entire field of aviation. I can recommend his book, without hesitation, as an essential resource for anyone interested in the history of early aviation.  

René Thomas died in 1975

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