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Henri Farman was born in Paris of English parents on May 26, 1874. Although educated at the Paris School of Fine Arts as a painter, his first honors were as a bicycle racer and later an auto-racing champion.
With his brother, Maurice, Henri learned to fly in a Voisin and shortly thereafter, in 1907, ordered his own aircraft incorporating his design modifications of a dihedral in the wings and the reduction of the tail to a single plane. These intuitive rather than scientific modifications were the first steps in a long career in which Henri Farman diagnosed and solved a myriad of aircraft control and structural problems.
On January 13, 1908, in his modified craft, Henri Farman won the prestigious Archdeacon prize by demonstrating his ability to fly a circuit of one kilometer, even with lateral control problems. In 1908, the incorporation of the first efficient ailerons provided the solution to this enormously difficult and dangerous problem.
In 1909, Henri Farman began one of the first formal, flight training schools and in 1914 founded the Farman Aviation Works that produced more than twelve thousand military aircraft for France in World War I.
In succeeding years the brothers Henri and Maurice, now joined by Dick, enjoyed both financial and technical success with a series of advanced designs, including the twin-engined Goliath capable of carrying twelve passengers. With this aircraft, they established their airline, Farman Lines, which was a forerunner of Air France.
Henri Farman was at the forefront of European aviation development from its infancy to maturity. His analytical skills, piloting ability and uncommon business acumen, contributed to France's major role in world aviation until his death in 1958.
Invested 1988 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame
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Updated: March 12, 2004