Via email from Dave Lam, 8-20-05

John Moissant
from World Atlas.com
CIA version
      Moisant was an interesting story. He and his brothers moved to El Salvador in 1896, seeking their fortunes. They got into sugar production, and developed extensive plantations; coincidentally, they also ran afoul of the Dictator, and Moisant's two brothers were imprisoned. After a comedy of errors in which he developed a worthless "mercenary army" to free his brothers, they were eventually freed. He later helped Zelaya become dictator of Nicaragua.
     In early 1910, Zelaya asked him to go to Paris and buy an airplane. He did so, learning to fly on a Bleriot. He does not appear to have earned a French license, as his name is not in the license lists I have available. He earned fame as the first pilot to cross the English Channel with a passenger. Then he later participated in the Gordon-Bennett Belmont Park Air Meet, in which he won the Statue of Liberty Race in an aircraft he had bought from LeBlanc who had been injured. He was disqualified from this crown due to rules violations. At this meet, he organised a group of pilots from both the US and France into a flying circus which he led on a tour of the US and Mexico. During their time in Texas, the President of Mexico asked them to fly some observation/reconnaissance flights over insurgent locations near the border, and Moisant agreed. He and his fliers may thus have become the first aviators to fly over an actual battlefield.      In New Orleans in December 1910, Moisant was killed on landing, when his plane turned turtle and he broke his neck.

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