Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"French Aviation"


Mr. Russell Walker


"The World owes its Wings to France" was the opening message at the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society last Friday (30th November). This was quoted by the Society’s Guest, Russell Walker, of Glasgow whose display subject was "French Aviation".

Russell began with a wonderful series of postcards, stamps and miniature sheets depicting early heroes of the pioneering days of aircraft development – including Henry Farman, Leon Delagrange, Elise Deroche but it is the American Wright Brothers – Orville and Wilbur – who are credited with building the world’s first manned airplane – and making the first flight in Europe. Their licences were issued by France in 1909. Pioneer aviators continued to try out these fantastic flying machines – and there were many fatalities. Louis Bleriot was the first to cross the Channel – he crash landed at Dover – not injured. Georges Chavez, who attended the Lanark Air Show in August 1910, was, in September 1910, the first to cross the Alps from France – but was fatally injured on landing.

In 1911 was the first UK Aerial Post – carrying mail from Hendon to Windsor.

In 1914, Roland Garros - whose name is remembered in the tennis stadium where the French Open is played - shot down 5 German aircraft by using a forward facing machine gun which fired bullets through the propeller. He gained the title of the world’s first "Air Ace".

After the break for tea, Russell continued his display with the development of routes in North Africa. There were many stamps and covers showing the new routes for Aerial Post between France and its Colonies.

Through the years many mail routes were opened up – including Algeria to London by Air France in 1936; Madagascar to Germany via Algeria. The war caused disruption to flights but in 1943, many routes were reopened.

There were covers showing the Paris Air Show of 1946 – when it restarted after the Second World War – and has continued every second year since. Also, from 1959, a Cover of the 20th Anniversary of the Night Mail between Paris and Bordeaux.

Postcards of Concorde and of the Airbus brought a wonderful display to an end.


Mr. Paul McGowan led members in giving thanks to Russell Walker for presenting such a knowledgeable and most interesting display.

Our next meeting in the Caledonian Bowling Club, Motherwell Road, Hamilton is on Friday 21st December, 2012 at 7:30pm when members will display 10 sheets on a topical subject!

Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.