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PIERRE PRIER—FIRST NONSTOP LONDON/PARIS PART 2

YESTERDAY IN PART 1, my perusal of The Aeroplane magazine, July 28, 1950, introduced me to pioneer aviator Pierre Prier. In 1911, he was the first to fly nonstop from London to Paris, and this was early on in his aviation career. Here in Part 2 are details of his epic flight and other subsequent activities.

Prier and his Blériot prior to his nonstop London/Paris flight. Image from transportationhistory.org.

London/Paris Duration? The Aeroplane described, “Pierre Prier flew from Hendon to Issy in Paris… in 3 hours 56 mins. in a Blériot with a 50 h.p. Gnôme.” Newspaper reports from 1911 differ slightly in aspects of duration, though they agree on a distance of 290 miles. 

The airmilescalculator website says it’s 216 miles from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle, but note that Prier’s traveling Hendon/Chatham/Dover/Cape Grisnez/Boulogne/Abbeville/Beauvais/Issy was not particularly direct.

The New York Times, April 13, 1911, wrote “Journey Occupies 236 Minutes—Aviator, a Newcomer, Wildly Acclaimed on Descending at Issy.” The newspaper’s “Having started at Hendon at 1:37 and finished at Issy at 5:33 p.m.” agrees with The Aeroplane’s departure, arrival, and elapsed time cited 39 years later. 

By contrast, in a “Special Cable From the Paris Bureau of the Post-Dispatch,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 12, 1911, said Prier “started from Hendon, just north of London, this morning…. He landed at 5:45 this afternoon.”    

And Time Zones? What’s more, I started wondering about time zones. Were Parisian timepieces an hour ahead of London’s? 

No, it turns out that clocks in the two cites agreed. According to Wikipedia, “In 1911, Metropolitan France adopted GMT+0 (the solar time of Greenwich) as its official time, and used it until 1940 (with GMT+1 used during the summers from 1916 to 1940).”

Prier’s Bristol Career. The Aeroplane, July 28, 1950, described, “The following month [after Prier’s London/Paris flight], Sir George White, founder of the Bristol Aeroplane Co., which was then called the British and Colonial Aeroplane Co., invited Prier to join his band of French pilots of real experience….” By the way, Henri Coanda was another talented designer hired by White.

Prier designed this Bristol P1 monoplane. Image from BAE SYSTEMS.

“Prier had ideas on aircraft design,” The Aeroplane noted, “and he designed the first Bristol monoplane which flew in September of 1911, less than two months after the design had begun. Prototypes were built quickly in those days!”

Reading old issues of The Aeroplane is surely enlightening. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

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