Jules Védrines

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Jules Charles Toussaint Védrines
Jules Vedrines 01.jpg
Jules Vedrines in 1911
Born(1881-12-21)21 December 1881
Saint-Denis, France
Died21 April 1919(1919-04-21) (aged 37)
Saint-Rambert-d'Albon, France
Cause of deathAircraft accident
Resting place Cimetière parisien de Pantin
Relatives Henri Védrines(son)[French Wikipedia]
Emile Védrines (brother)
Aviation career
Known for Air racing
First pilot to fly at more than 100 mph
Winner of 1912 Gordon Bennett Trophy race
Flight license7 December 1910
Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Jules Charles Toussaint Védrines (21 December 1881 – 21 April 1919) was an early French aviator, notable for being the first pilot to fly at more than 100 mph and for winning the Gordon Bennett Trophy race in 1912. [1]

Gordon Bennett Trophy (aeroplanes) Aviation competition

The Gordon Bennett Aviation Trophy was an international airplane racing trophy awarded by James Gordon Bennett Jr., the American owner and publisher of the New York Herald newspaper. The trophy is one of three Gordon Bennett awards: Bennett was also the sponsor of an automobile race and a ballooning competition.



Jules Védrines was born in Saint-Denis, an industrial suburb of Paris, on 21 December 1881. [1]

Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis Subprefecture and commune in Île-de-France, France

Saint-Denis is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 9.4 km (5.8 mi) from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis is a subprefecture of the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, being the seat of the arrondissement of Saint-Denis.

An industrial suburb is a community, near a large city, with an industrial economy. These communities may be established as tax havens or as places where zoning promotes industry, or they may be industrial towns that become suburbs by urban sprawl of the nearby big city.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

He was raised in the tough back alleys of Paris, shaping his rough and foul-mouthed nature which nevertheless made him a favorite of the French public. He was apprenticed to the Gnome engine manufacturing company, after which he spent six months in England as Robert Loraine's mechanic in 1910, and then returned to France, where he gained his pilot's license (no. 312) on 7 December 1910 at the Blériot school at Pau. His rise to become one of the most prominent pilots of the time started when he won the 1911 Paris to Madrid air race in May 1911 flying a Morane-Borel monoplane, although the previous month he had attracted attention by dropping bouquets of violets onto the Mi-carême procession as it entered the Place de la Concorde in Paris. [2] [3] That year he also came second in the Circuit of Britain race [4] and third in the Circuit of Europe race. In 1912, flying the Deperdussin 1912 Racing Monoplane he was the first person to fly an aircraft at more than 100 mph (160 km/h) and he also won the Gordon Bennett Trophy race.

Gnome et Rhône was a major French aircraft engine manufacturer. Between 1914 and 1918 they produced 25,000 of their 9-cylinder Delta and Le Rhône 110 hp (81 kW) rotary designs, while another 75,000 were produced by various licensees. These engines powered the majority of aircraft in the first half of the war, both Allied designs as well as German examples produced by Motorenfabrik Oberursel.

Robert Loraine British stage actor, actor-manager and soldier

Robert Bilcliffe Loraine was a successful London and Broadway British stage actor, actor-manager and soldier who later enjoyed a side career as a pioneer aviator. Born in New Brighton, Liscard, Cheshire, England, his father was Henry Loraine and mother Edith Kingsley(born Mary Ellen Bayliss) and Robert made his first stage appearance in the English provinces in 1889. He served in the Boer War (1899–1902). He introduced the George Bernard Shaw play Man and Superman to Broadway in 1905.

Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Pau is a commune on the northern edge of the Pyrenees, and capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Département in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France.

Vedrines electioneering in 1911 Limoux postcard jules vedrines.jpg
Védrines electioneering in 1911

Vedrines was politically active and in 1912 he stood unsuccessfully as a Socialist candidate for the Chamber of Deputies for the constituency of Limoux. [5] He also made an early use of an aircraft for propaganda purposes, dropping leaflets demanding more aircraft for the French Army over the Chamber of Deputies in Paris in January 1912. [6]

The chamber of deputies is the legislative body such as the lower house of a bicameral legislature, or also a unicameral legislature.

Limoux Subprefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Limoux is a commune and subprefecture in the Aude department, a part of the ancient Languedoc province and the present-day Occitanie region in southern France. It lies on the river Aude about 30 km (19 mi) due south of Carcassonne. Its vineyards are famous for being first to produce sparkling wine known as Blanquette de Limoux.

Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups, companies, religious organizations and the media can also produce propaganda.

In 1913 he flew from Paris to Cairo in a Blériot monoplane. The flight was attended by controversy at both its beginning and its end.

Cairo City in Egypt

Cairo is the capital of Egypt. The city's metropolitan area is one of the largest in Africa, the largest in the Middle East, and the 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 CE by the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life, and is titled "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to GaWC.

On arrival at Nancy he was prevented from proceeding, since it was rightly thought that it was his intention to violate German airspace. This was a controversial issue at the time: aviators were pressing for the freedom to fly anywhere without regard to national boundaries. Védrines' action helped to bring about a conference on the matter which was held the following year. [7]

Nancy, France Prefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Nancy is the capital of the north-eastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, and formerly the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine, and then the French province of the same name. The metropolitan area of Nancy had a population of 434,565 inhabitants at the 2011 census, making it the 20th largest urban area in France. The population of the city of Nancy proper was 104,321 in 2014.

German Empire empire in Central Europe between 1871–1918

The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.

Vedrines and his Bleriot XXXVIbis La Vache, 31 August 1914 M 50 12 Vedrines et son avion.jpg
Védrines and his Blériot XXXVIbis La Vache, 31 August 1914

After a long delay in Nancy, on 20 November Védrines circumvented the ban by the transparent ruse of heading west on taking off from Nancy, changing course for Prague when out of sight of the airfield. He was tried in absentia for this by the Germans and sentenced to a year's imprisonment. After Prague he proceeded via Sofia, Constantinople (where he pleased the Sultan by dropping a Turkish flag on the Imperial palace), reaching Beirut on 25 December, Jaffa on the 27th, and finally, on the 29th, landing on the polo ground at Heliopolis, where he was greeted by a representative of the Khedive and by the French Agent, who placed a laurel wreath bound with a tricolour around his neck. [8] Shortly after his arrival, however, he became involved in a dispute with Henri Roux, who had been a passenger in a rival attempt to fly to Cairo. A refusal to retract an accusation of unpatriotic behaviour led to Védrines being challenged to a duel: he refused to fight, saying he was not brave enough. An attempt by René Quinton, president of the French Ligue Aérienne , to resolve the matter by asking Védrines to fight or leave Cairo merely resulted in Védrines returning to Paris and challenging Quinton to a duel in Roux's place, Vedrines desiring to fight with French Army revolvers at ten paces. The affair made headlines in the Parisian press for several weeks, but experts in duelling protocol eventually decided that there was no cause for attempted bloodshed. [9]

Jules Vedrines and his mechanic taking off for the last time in 1919. Caudron C 23 - may 1919.jpg
Jules Védrines and his mechanic taking off for the last time in 1919.

During the First World War he was largely involved in clandestine missions, landing behind enemy lines to drop or pick up agents. His Blériot XXXVIbis aircraft was named La Vache (The Cow) and was emblazoned with a picture of a cow, in homage to his family's roots in the Limousin region. On 15 July 1915 he was mentioned in the French Army Order of the Day for his work with the Sixth Army, for whom he had flown over 1,000 hours on reconnaissance missions. [10]

On 19 January 1919 he succeeded in landing a Caudron G.3 [11] on the 28 metres (92 ft) by 12 metres (39 ft) roof of the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris, winning a 25,000 franc prize which had been offered before the war. His feat was considered a success despite a hard landing that seriously damaged the plane and injured the aviator. After his death a stone commemorating the achievement was placed there.

Three months later, on 21 April 1919, he was killed when attempting to fly a Caudron C.23 from Villacoublay to Rome, Italy. [12] After an engine failed he attempted a forced landing but crashed near St Rambert d'Albon near Lyon killing himself and his mechanic Marcel Guillain. [13]


  1. 1 2 "Jules Charles Toussaint Védrines (1881-1919)". Monash University . Retrieved 2016-11-09.
  2. "Paris-Madrid". Flight . 3 July 1911.
  3. L'Aviation et les Fêtes de la Mi-Carême, l'Aérophile , 1 April 1911, p.165.
  4. "Table of Competitors Times and Distances". Flight : 661. 29 July 1911.
  5. "Jules Védrines". The Times (39844): 5: col E. 12 March 1912.
  6. "Vedrines as Propagandist". Flight . 12 Jan 1912.
  7. "Freedom Of The Air". The Times (40516.): 10. 6 May 1914.
  8. "The Flight of the Year: Védrine's arrival at Cairo". The Times (40407): 6: col C. 30 December 1913.
  9. "The Védrines Duel". The Times (40449): 6. 17 February 1914.
  10. "Védrine's Fine Work". The Times (40908): 7: col D. 16 July 1915.
  11. "Vedrines' 80 h.p.Caudron on the roof of the Galeries Lafayette". Flight . 30 January 1919.
  12. "Vedrines Killed In Paris-Rome Trip. Airplane Falls from Great Height with Famous Aviator and a Mechanician. Started In Strong Wind. 225 Miles of 700-Mile Nonstop. Fight Had been Covered When Machine Collapsed". New York Times . Associated Press. April 22, 1919. Retrieved 2016-11-09.
  13. "The Death of Jules Védrines". Flight . 24 April 1919.

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