When French aviator Henri Salmet landed his 50hp Bleriot plane on Gyllyngvase Beach 100 years ago this month hundreds of Falmouth people were there to welcome him.

Sponsored by the Daily Mail to fly around Britain, Salmet almost came to grief at Falmouth.
Arriving from south Devon he gave an impressive display of his flying skills over the town and bay before landing on the beach.

But the Frenchman had no idea that the sand was quite soft for his landing and on touching down the plane’s wheels suddenly sank into the sand resulting in the plane tilting forwards until almost vertical.

Luckily the pilot and his passenger, a Daily Mail employee, were uninjured.
However the plane’s propeller sustained damage, which was repaired overnight in a large tent erected on the beach.

Two days later, after floats were fitted to his aircraft, Salmet took off for a flight to Penzance, carrying the mayoress, Mrs Chard. Off the Manacles rocks the plane developed engine problems forcing Salmet to land on the sea off Porthoustock.

Coastguards alerted authorities in Falmouth who dispatched the tug Marion to tow the plane to Penzance despite the choppy weather.

Salmet had visited Falmouth two years before when he landed in fields near Union Corner.

In late 1914, during World War I, Salmet was stationed at the aviation camp at Avorod, in France.

From there he sent a postcard to Falmouth’s mayor saying: “Times are not so pleasant here as they are in Falmouth. How do you do? What is the news? My best rememberances to all Falmouth friends.”

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