An engineer born in 1882 in Marseille, France, Fabre came from a family of ship owners. After studying science and engineering, he spent four years designing, building and testing his seaplane (hydravion) with the help and expertise of two mechanics and a naval architect.
Named Le Canard because of its ‘canard’ (duck) configuration, which places a small forewing before the main wing, the monoplane was 14m wide, 8.5m long and weighted 380kg. It was equipped with a 50 horsepower Gnome Omega engine driving a two-bladed pusher and three floats.
The first seaplane in history took off from the waters of Étang de Berre, a lagoon on France’s Mediterranean coast, on 28 March 1910. On the day of the historic flight, a crowd gathered at the Etang de Berre to witness the aircraft take off from, and successfully land on, the water four times, attaining a distance of 600m on his longest flight. At only 27 years of age, thanks to this extraordinary exploit, Fabre had joined an exclusive club of aviation pioneers.
After this first flight, Fabre commenced the commercialisation of his aircraft and built several exemples of his seaplane. However, he stopped his activities in the field of aviation after World War I to work as an engineer in the industry. He died at the age of 101 in 1984.
Henri Fabre, whose feat will be celebrated throughout the region this week-end, opened the way for long-distance commercial flight. A good decade before regular aircrafts, seaplanes were to venture across the transatlantic route.
Unaware that it was paying homage to Henri Fabre, Pan American Airlines opened the world's first transatlantic passenger service in 1939, between New York and Marseille. And just as Le Canard had done 29 years earlier, the fabled Yankee Clipper, Boeing's 74-passenger luxury "flying boat", would land on and take off from the waters of Étang de Berre.
According to fai.org & iter.org