French aviator Louis Charles Breguet was born on January 2, 1880 in Paris. Along with his brother Jacques and Charles Richet, he developed a gyroscope, a helicopter prototype with flexible wings, in 1905. He followed that up with a fixed-wing plane, the Breguet Type I, in 1909 and a hydroplane in 1912. Breguet’s contributions to aircraft in World War I were invaluable, including the reconnaissance and aluminum planes used by both France and the US Expeditionary Forces.
After the war, Breguet repurposed many of the planes for the Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes, an early commercial and then passenger airline that morphed several times until it became Air France. In addition, he was a talented yachtsman who won a bronze medal in the 1924 Summer Olympics. His aircraft also set several distance records in the post-war years. Breguet continued to make important contributions to aircraft during World War II and afterward. He died of a heart attack on May 4, 1955.
- Fishermen haul in Spitfire part off Guernsey coast (warhistoryonline.com)
- Those Magnificent Ladies in Their Flying Machines (mentalfloss.com)