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What was Monsieur Renaux doing landing his plane in Appledore?

If, like me, you love old photos, you might have wondered what was going on in some of the photos on display (at the time of writing) in the Black Lion. This photo is one of them. It shows Monsieur Eugene Renaux’s Maurice Farman MF.2 bi-plane that landed on the outskirts of Appledore on 3rd July 1911. M. Renaux (1877-1955) was an aviation pioneer and took part in various aviation competitions. There is a monument to him at Puy de Dome.

It appears that there were quite a few such competitions during 1911, including – The Great Aviation Race, Daily Mail Circuit of Britain contest, Circuit European/Circuit of Europe and Michelin Grand Prix of Aviation (which M. Renaux won in March 1911).

So, 18th June 1911 marked the start of the first Circuit of Europe, organised by The Standard and Paris Journal, covering France, Belgium, Holland and England. 43 aeroplanes left Vincennes, Paris; some monoplanes, some bi-planes. M. Renaux was the only pilot to have a passenger with him, a Monsieur Senouques, his mechanic, as his was the only 2 seater plane. The stretch from Calais to Dover (the 7th stage of the race) was delayed until 3rd July 1911 to enable stragglers to catch up. Then the pilots who were still in the race (only 18 completed the circuit) left Calais at 3-minute intervals.

The UK part of the race took in Dover, Shoreham and Hendon. The route, with the absence of GPS, was marked out using giant arrows on the ground! These were placed in locations including Hamstreet, Reading Street, Newenden and Bodiam Rectory.

I am guessing that the pilots might have needed to land fairly regularly along the route to load more fuel? I have to assume that this was why M. Renaux landed near Appledore.

It is reported that on 4th July 1911 M. Renaux had to land at Bodiam and received mechanical assistance. It took him another 2 and 1/4 hours to get to Hendon, landing at 8.33pm, still carrying his passenger. By that time there were only a few remaining spectators, but as these included M. Renaux’s wife I’m sure he didn’t mind too much! M. Renaux completed the entire circuit, finishing 7th.

Tracy Morgan
ALHS Member