Contemporary report of the St Malo air races

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Contemporary report of the
St Malo air races


The routes of the 1912 St Malo air races

From Flight Magazine, 31 August 1912

Twelve entries

Twelve machines were entered, one each Astra biplane, Borel monoplane, Deperdussin, Donnet-Leveque, Maurice Farman and Nieuport, two Paulhans, one REP, two Sanchez-Besa and one Train-Astra.

With the exception of the three latter, all machines were fitted with three floats, the Sanchez-Besa having two floats, while the Train-Astra has only one. Gnome or Renault engines are fitted to all machines except the Paulhan, which has a Curtiss. With the exception of about one, all the machines used Chauviere " Integral " propellers.

The pilots for the machines in the order mentioned were Labouret, Chambenois, Busson, Beaumont, Renaux, Weymann, Barra, Mesgulch, Molla, Benoist and Rugere.

The first plane to land in Jersey

Three courses

The sketch maps which we publish show the three courses of the competition, and a system of marking was drawn up, as already published, having for its basis a sliding scale by which so many points were given to the first, second, and third in each event, according to the number of passengers carried by the machine, and to the course over which the event was held.

The start was timed for 2 o'clock on Saturday, but, owing to the weather, was postponed till half-past three, when the two Paulhan-Curtiss machines put off from the Lac aux Canards for the Grande Jardin lighthouse. The complete course is 15 miles in length, but Barra was upset before he had gone one, Rugere and Weymann likewise got tumbled into the water, while Mesguich had to hydroplane home.

Against these misfortunes stand the successful flights of Labouret (Astra), two passengers, net time 11 min 10 sec; Busson (Dep), one passenger, net time 13 min 3 sec ; Molla (REP), 13 min 27 sec; Renaux (Farman), two passengers, net time 15 min 11 sec; and Benoist (Sanchez-Besa), one passenger, net time 15 min 46 sec, who were returned for the event in the above order.

A competitor passes St Malo lighthouse

Exciting incidents

On Sunday, when Course B was flown, several exciting incidents again occurred, Weymann landing in the bay on his Nieuport as the result of engine trouble, as also did the Paulhan-Curtiss and one of the Sanchez-Besa. The Dep likewise made a faulty landing in the sea and dived under the water, from which predicament, however, the pilot and passengers were safely rescued.

Mesguich had the misfortune to be thrown out of his machine on a forced landing in an awkward place, and broke his leg. The result of the race over Course B was a first place for Benoist on the Sanchez-Besa, with three passengers, who flew round in 20 min 33 sec —net time 9 min 14 sec; Labouret (Astra), two passengers, net time 10 mins. 45 sec ; Molla (REP), one passenger, net time 12 min 29 sec, and Renaux (Farman) secured the second, third and fourth places.

Mesguich did not finish the course, and Weymann did not fly round Rochebonne Lighthouse. In the combined events, however, Labouret was leading on Sunday night.

Jersey course

On Monday, the third and last day of the meeting, the machines had to make a 50-mile flight to the island of Jersey, and in spite of the cold unpleasant weather Benoist on the Sanchez-Besa started out soon after 8 o'clock, and was quickly followed by the REP, Astra, Nieuport, and Farman.

Renaux on the Farman returned after reaching Chausey, but the others continued, and were duly announced by wireless as having safely arrived. After an interval of about an hour the return flight started, the Astra biplane being the first machine sighted by the cruiser Gloire, which was on patrol.

Weymann on the fast Nieuport monoplane came after him at a great pace, however, and both entered the harbour together, the former crossing the line first. Molla on the REP and Benoist on the Sanchez-Besa were not far behind. Their times were : Weymann (1 pass), in 41m 24s ; Labouret, 1h 11m 46s ; Benoist (2 pass), 2h 49m 14s ; and Molla, 2h 53m 30s.


The final classing for the three courses, with points lost, prize money, etc, is as follows:

Machine and motor Pilot Points Races finished Amount won
1 Astra (Renault) Labouret 9 3 15,000 Fr
2 Sanchez-Besa (Renault) Benoist 14 3 10,000 Fr
3 REP (Gnome) Molla 16 3 6,000 Fr
4 Farman (Renault) Renaux 21 1 4,000 Fr
5 Nieuport (Gnome) Weymann 25 1 2,000 Fr
6 Paulhan (Curtiss) Mesguich 36 None 666 Fr


Further images of the landing in Jersey from contemporary newspaper reports. Click on any image to see a full-size version. See also another gallery of images of this momentous day in island history

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