I was born in Châlons-sur-Marne on October 15th, in 1884. At the age of 8, I left Châlons to follow my mother to Lyon after the terrible shock of my father’s death. Lost in this big city, I felt an overwhelming sadness and so I tried to find some form of escapism. It was then that I became fascinated with astrology and palaeontology.
I obtained my engineering degree in 1908 and began my career at Peugeot where I developed a dynamo light for automobiles. From 1912 to 1914, I registered no less than twelve patents with Peugeot. However, I remained fascinated with the idea of flight.
During the war, I had to give up my research on flight. In 1917, as technical assistant to General Estienne, I played an essential part in developing the tank and invented and produced the electric stroboscope. At the end of the war, I resumed my studies and concentrated on designing helicopters. I was then self-employed and, with a small team, I began to build my prototypes.
On January 15th, 1921, my “helicopter n°1” lifted off the ground, in vertical flight! There were six flights lasting between 35 seconds and one minute, at altitudes of up to 3 metres. Six further prototypes followed.