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John Bevins Moisant (April 25, 1868 – December 31, 1910) was a United Statesmarker aviator.

Birth

He was born in Kankakee, Illinoismarker to Medore Moisant (1839-?) and Josephine Fortier (1841-1901). Both parents were French-Canadian immigrants. His siblings include: George Moisant (1866-1927); Ann Marguerite Moisant (1877-1957); Matilde Moisant (1878-1964) who was the second American woman to receive her pilot's license; Alfred J. Moisant (c1862-1929); Louisa Josephine Moisant (1882-1957); and possibly Eunice Moisant (1890-?) who was born in Illinois. Alfred and Matilde were also aviators. In 1880 the family was living in Manteno, Illinoismarker and his father was working as a farmer.

El Salvador

He and his brothers moved to El Salvadormarker in 1896 and bought sugar cane plantations that generated a substantial sum for the family. In 1909, José Santos Zelaya, president of Nicaraguamarker asked John to go to Francemarker to investigate airplanes.

Moisant International Aviators


Aviator

John Moisant's experimental all aluminium plane of 1909
He went to an airshow in Reimsmarker, Francemarker, and he took flying lessons from Louis Blériot to begin his short but distinguished flying career. John Moisant won a number of aviation races and contests. He designed, built and flew the first metal aircraft, an experimental aluminium plane, in 1909.

On August 23, 1910, he flew the first flight with a passenger across the English Channelmarker. His passenger was his mechanic, Albert Fileux, and he also took his cat called Mademoiselle Fifi.

With his brother, Alfred Moisant, he formed the Moisant International Aviators, a flying circus which went barnstorming around the United States. At the Belmont Air Show at Belmont Parkmarker, New York, he flew his Blériot monoplane around a balloon 10 miles (16 kilometers) away and returned to the racetrack in only 39 minutes, winning an $850 prize. On October 30, 1910, at the same show, he competed in the race to fly around the Statue of Libertymarker. He won the race, beating out Claude Grahame-White, a British aviator, by 42.75 seconds. However, he was later disqualified because officials ruled that he had started late, and the $10,000 prize was awarded to Grahame-White.

Death

On December 30, 1910 in New Orleansmarker, he raced his Blériot monoplane five miles (eight kilometers) against a Packard automobile, but lost. Moisant died on December 31, 1910 in Kenner, Louisianamarker in an air crash while making a preparatory flight in his attempt to win the Michelin Cup and its $4,000 prize. He was caught in a gust of wind as he was attempting to land and was thrown from his Bleriot monoplane landing on his head; he was not wearing a seat belt. Another theory has it that the Bleriot was underpowered as well as being nose heavy with too much fuel and the aircraft came down in a cemetery. He left an estate valued at $125,000. He was buried at the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemeterymarker in Los Angeles, Californiamarker. His body was later moved to the Portal of Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation. (Fellow aviator Arch Hoxsey died the same day.)

Legacy

The international airport of New Orleans, Louisianamarker was originally named Moisant Field in his honor, though it has since been renamed Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airportmarker.

The airport retains its "MSY" identifier, derived from the airport's origins as "Moisant Stock Yards" the name given to the land where Moisant's fatal airplane crash occurred, and upon which the airport was later built.

Archive

The National Air and Space Museummarker has the John B. Moisant Scrapbook Collection

Awards

  • 1910 Finished second in the Gordon Bennett Cup race
  • 1910 Fastest flight from the Belmont Park race track, Long Island
  • 1911 Statue of Liberty race


Selected coverage in the New York Times

  • The New York Times; October 31, 1910; pg. 1; "Moisant wins statue race. American Beats Grahame-White for the $10,000 Flight in Fast Time. John B. Moisant, the hero of Saturday's flights, who won for America the sentimental honor of finishing second in the Gordon Bennett Cup race, wrested from Claude Grahame-White, the cup winner, yesterday, the $10,000 prize for the fastest flight from the Belmont Park race track, Long Island, where the second international aviation tournament is in progress, around the Statue of Liberty and back to the ..."
  • The New York Times; January 1, 1911; pg. 1; How Moisant fell. Descending at a sharp dip, is hurled out as a gust upturns machine. New Orleans, Louisiana; December 31, 1911. John B. Moisant, the aviator, was killed to-day while making a flight preparatory to an attempt to win the Michelin Cup by setting new endurance and distance figures. Caught in a gust of wind as he was attempting a landing this morning, he was thrown bodily from his Bleriot monoplane and landed on his head.
  • The New York Times; January 2, 1911; pg. 1; "Moisant left $125,000. Never expected to die in an aeroplane flight, it is said. New Orleans, Louisiana; January 1, 1911. John B. Moisant believed himself reasonably safe in an aeroplane under any circumstances, was a statement made to-night by Albert S. Levino, who is connected with the International Aviators. A few days before his death, Levino quotes Moisant as saying to him."
  • The New York Times; January 14, 1911; pg. 10; "Cause of Moisant's death. Fileux does not attach blame to his mechanics. By Albert Fileux. I was very much surprised to read in Monday morning's papers a letter of protest emanating from French aviator and mechanical engineers. So far as the mechanics are concerned, they should remember that I left M. Moisant after an argument about matters independent of the work, matters in which their financial interests were involved: Naturally, the mechanics felt "peeved" because all the published accounts of ..."


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