"An aristocrat of skill, of mind, of daring, of invention" – these are the terms in which Paul Morand, the influential French writer and diplomat, described Gabriel Voisin. Monsieur Voisin inherited a strong taste for functionalism from his training as an architect, a taste that was also key to the avant-gardist and Bauhaus schools of thought of his time. At the start of the 20th century, it was also the burgeoning history of aeronautics that had significant influence on the founder of Avions Voisin.
Gabriel Voisin’s fascination with airplanes dates back to 1903, when he began working for Ernest Archdéacon and Henry Deutsch de La Meurthe, the founders of the Aéro-Club de France. It was in 1905 that Voisin met a young student of the École centrale (a prestigious French engineering college) by the name of Louis Bleriot, with whom he created Bleriot Voisin, the first aircraft company. The following year, Gabriel was joined by his brother, Charles. This was the start of Les Frères Voisin (The Voisin Brothers), an enterprise which quickly achieved the feat of building the world's first airplane capable of carrying out a complete flight in a closed-circuit over a distance of 1 km. This event took place on January 13, 1908, with a certain Henry Farman, pilot and brilliant engineer, at the controls.
From then on, the company deployed and built several thousand bombers used in particular by Great Britain, Italy and Russia, and it enjoyed a period of prosperity. But in 1919, orders from the war tailed-off and Voisin turned permanently towards the other mechanical industry that was then enjoying great expansion, and formed the <i>Société des automobiles Avions Voisin</i> (Avions Voisin Motor Company) in Issy-les-Moulineaux.
To be continued...