René Vallon
"Greetings from Germany and enclosed a Photo from Rene Vallon.
I have found this Photo 1980 in London for my China Air Mail Collection."

Collection of Hubertus Hentschel, 7-24-07

     If you search for "René Vallon +aviation", using the Google search engine, (9-5-03), you will find about four links. Perhaps the most interesting of all is the following.
A storehouse of material on a distant world
presented by SinoMedia Shanghai

From the North-China Herald, May 13, 1916
Death of M. Vallon
     "The pioneer of aviation in China, M. René Vallon met his death on the Race Course on Saturday in circumstances which have cast a deep gloom over the entire community. The tragedy, unhappily only one in a long list of fatalities occurring in the struggle for the mastery of the air, came in the most dramatic manner, and none of the thousands witnessing it will ever forget the cruel shock which it gave. No more painful tragedy can he found in the annals of Shanghai, for at a moment when practically the whole community were applauding his feat of aviation he was hurled to the ground from a frightful height, meeting his end while as yet the cheers had scarce had time to die away from the lips of the assembled on-lookers. And what is still more distressing, it was before the eyes of his wife that the terrible accident occurred, Mme. Vallon having come to the Race Course to greet him after his flight. M. Vallon's death closes what promised to he a bright chapter in the present history of China, namely the introduction of aviation, and the pioneer flights at Kiangwan from which so much was hoped to follow, will be remembered with feelings of sorrow. Once already the gallant aviator had flown over Shanghai, and so successful had he been in his flights that people were forgetful of the dangers of the air, but, when all seemed to be going well, these were brought home with redoubled force. The story of the fatality is as simple as it is sad, though of course the exact cause is difficult of explanation."
     This paragraph was excerpted from the fascinating story on the "Tales of Old China" website of SinoMedia Shanghai. To read the whole article, click on the title immediately above.
     On this webpage of the History of Flight website of the International Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, you will find a very nice summary of the development of aviation in China and will find M. Vallon mentioned in context. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

via email from Patrick et Yolaine HALLEGUEN
La Ferme de Cheux - Saint Michel des Loups
50740 Carolles - - France
     Mr. Halleguen has kindly alerted us to four websites which offer more insight into the life and career of René. They are as follows:
Rue Vallon
     This brief film clip was made of Vallon street in Shanghai by Jean Beudin around 1911-1916. You can view it by clicking on the title above. Once on the page, look on the right side for "Collection Widmer - Films." Under that click on, "Rue Vallon, dans la concession française."
     For the benefit of those of us who don't read French, I have translated a portion of the biography of Jean Beudin (born in 1880). He resided for more than 25 years at Shanghai (1908-1933). Through an impressive collection of stereotypes and stereoscopic plates, including the clip taken on Vallon Street above, he left a record of daily life and notable events including a film of the air meeting where the Vallon aviator found death (1911)
"La recherche de la nouveauté" : Etienne Tsu
"The research of the innovation ": Etienne Tsu
     This story of the pioneer aviator Etienne Tsu is in French. I have extracted and translated portions of the story which relate to René Vallon.
     Etienne Tsu, son of Nicolas Tsu, was born in Shanghai in 1885. He was sent to Europe for his higher studies in 1890. In 1903, he graduated from the School of mechanics of Lille with a degree in engineering. On his return to Shanghai, he undertook research in the field of the shipbuilding and then later into the beginnings of the automobile industry. The exploits of René Vallon in 1911 gave birth in him to a career in aviation. He was impassioned to such a degree with air locomotion that he returned to France in 1913 to learn to fly in Villacoublay. Licensed in 1914, he joined the French Foreign Legion and was immediately assigned to their airforce. As a fighter pilot in 1915, he distinguished himself and his confirmed kills earned him the Military Cross with palms. Demobilized in 1919, he returned to China where he took part in the creation of the Chinese Flying school which was equipped with French machines. A Colonel in 1925, he died in Shanghai in 1940 (?)
Note from Patrick et Yolaine HALLEGUEN: Villacoublay is an airfield south of Paris and not so far from Versailles. It has a very old history, and is still used by general aviation but also by test pilots.

China Clipper: romance and adventure
     This page in English is devoted to a revue of the history of the China Clipper. It offers several paragraphs of information regarding the fatal crash of René Vallon. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.

Une petite histoire envoyée par une lectrice de Shangaï
A small history sent by a reader of Shangaï
     This page on the Journal des Accidentes et des Catastrophes website offers a brief history of a park in Shanghai in which the memory of René Vallon was honored. If you read French, you can enjoy the article by clicking on the title above. For the benefit of those of us who don't read French, and with the help of the BabelFish machine-translation program, I have prepared an English version of the story.
A small history sent by a reader of Shangaï
     In the current Fuxing Park, the French Municipality inaugurated the "Caucasus Garden". Upon its opening, the park was reserved only for the French. However, as of April 16, 1928, the Chinese were allowed there upon payment of a permanent ticket of entry of a Chinese dollar per annum. In this garden, a memorial to the famous French aviator, Mr. Vallon, was placed. He was well known to all Shanghaiens, as well as to the Chinese in the rest of the country.
     He was born on March 13, 1880, in Paris and died on May 6, 1911 in Shanghai. He had been invited by the local authorities to present a demonstration of stunt-flying to the public in Huangpu.. Unfortunately, the demonstration endded in catastrophe, with the "crash landing" of his plane. Overcome with sorrow, the crowd of all nationalities, cried for the hero.
     The French Municipality, in agreement with popular sympathy, set up a commemorative stele in the north of the "Caucasus Garden", close to Vallon Street. A poem was engraved there:
"Death made known the sorrow supported by France, Him, it brought a destiny filled of pride... Tears filled the eyes unceasingly of innumerable spectators. You gave us up, in a wink...."
     The stele was destroyed by the Japanese, but 90 years later, the glorious history of René Vallon, the French pilot, remains unforgettable in the hearts of all Shanghaiens and their descendants.
With my wishes of resting and sunny holidays.

Daily Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: May 7, 1911,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 8-25-05
China, May 6. - Rene Vallon, the French Aviator, fell from a great height today and was instantly killed. Vallon belonged in Paris and had been giving exhibitions in this country for six weeks in the hope of interesting the Chinese government in military aviation. He made the first extended flight by an aviator in China, using a Sommer biplane.

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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