February 5, 1880
Aircraft and automobile manufacturer Gabriel Voisin was born in the commune of Belleville-sur-Saône in eastern France. Voisin developed a strong enthusiasm for the potential of airborne transportation at a young age, and was especially inspired by the work and words of aviation pioneers Clément Ader and Ferdinand Feber.
Voisin’s aviation career began in earnest after Ernest Archdeacon, who was a huge proponent and financial supporter of human flight efforts, recruited him to test a replica of the Wright Brothers’ glider biplane. Voisin undertook the trial flights in April 1904 at the commune of Berck-sur-Mer in northern France, and that successful endeavor helped further propel his involvement in designing and test-flying aircraft.
In 1906, Voisin joined forces with his younger brother Charles to establish an aircraft manufacturing company. The Paris-area Appareils d’Aviation Les Frères Voisin operated the world’s first commercial aircraft factory. One aircraft developed by the company became the first plane other than those built by the Wright Brothers to stay aloft for more than a minute.
Voisin suffered a deep personal loss in 1912 when his brother Charles was killed in an automobile accident, but he continued the business which they had run together and renamed the company Société Anonyme des Aéroplanes G. Voisin. Throughout most of the decade, Voisin focused on producing aircraft for the French military. After World War I broke out, the company manufactured military planes not only for the French but also other Allied Powers.
After the war ended, Voisin stopped building airplanes and instead began manufacturing luxury automobiles under the brand of Avions Voisin. Many of his automobiles became renowned worldwide for both their exotic appearance and such innovative features as airplane-style fender struts and aerodynamic wheel covers. Voisin remained involved in the production of automobiles until retiring in 1958. He died in 1973.
For more information on Gabriel Voisin, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Voisin