History Behind The Card: Lieut. Jean Conneau (Beaumont)
Card #73 of 75, W.D.& H.O Wills, Aviation series 1911, Capstan Navy Cut – Green-back issue
- Jean Louis Conneau (aka André Beaumont) on February 8, 1880 in Lodève, Hérault, France – August 5, 1937, Lodève, Hérault, France.
This is another Card No. 73 within the 75-card cigarette trading card set.
The other No. 73 was Card #73 of 75, W.D.& H.O Wills, Aviation series 1911, Vice Regal Mixture – Black-back issue (see HERE) … this blog is about the Capstan Navy Cut GREEN back issue.
While I applaud Wills’s for having the real name of the aviator on this cigarette card, we should note that Jean Louis Conneau (in the day) was best known by his pseudonym of André Beaumont… which is WHY there’s a bracketed name under his real name on the front of the card.
One hundred years removed, I had no idea just why “Beaumont” was bracketed, and assumed it was some sort of aeroplane.
So… why did Conneau have another name… a more famous name?
The card’s front provides the main clue.
Lieut. Jean Louis Conneau. Lieutenant. His was a military man…
As an aeroplane pilot who enjoyed flying in various events and races of the day to earn a few extra dollars, because Conneau was a Lieutenant in the French navy.
I can’t find a lot (any) information about Conneau’s childhood—which I have found CAN explain why some people became interested in aviation or aerodynamics…
Here’s what we know… on December 7, 1910, Conneau earned The Aéro-Club de France pilot’s license No. 322.
He earned his French military pilot’s license (No. 4) one year later on December 18, 1911.
Of course, in 1911, Conneau was entered in all sorts of aviation meets, and it is during this time that he utilized the pseudonym André Beaumont, as he was still in the Navy… even though he did not have a military pilot’s license at that time… no biggie… as you can see, being No. 4 for a French military license just meant that one wasn’t required within the military until late in 1911.
So… what is Conneau famous for?
Well… that would be his winning (or rather André Beaumont’s winning) of the Paris-Rome aeroplane race.
The race, which began on May 29, 1911, was originally supposed to have been a longer race, and was to be from Paris-Rome-Turin… but organizers cut the Rome to Turin leg, making it a separate race to be run one week after the Paris-Rome event.
During the Paris-Rome race, an aviator was allowed to stop, fix a plane, and even exchange an aircraft—though the pilot had to let race officials stationed throughout the race if this action was undertaken.
Beginning on May 28, 1911, Conneau (Beaumont) arrived at the race’s end-spot of the Parioli racetrack on May 31, 1911 in a time of 82 hours and five minutes
The quick pace set by Conneau surprised race organizers who had estimated the race would take about one week to complete.
In fact, second place winner Roland Garros (Eugène Adrien Roland Georges Garros) arrived in Rome in 106 hours and 15 minutes, having crashed two aircraft.
(Editor Note: Garros, by the way, was reported to have been involved in the first air-battle ever when his plane rammed a zeppelin, killing him. The only problem here is that Garros was still alive when that 1914 claim was circulated, and he denied being involved in the suicide run… especially since he was still alive.)
Third place was achieved in 156 hours and 52 minutes by André Frey in a Moranes; while the only other aviator to complete the journey was René Vidart in a Deperdussin at 195 hours and eight minutes.
Conneau landed like a rock star, as men knocked over women to have the honor of hoisting Conneau upon their shoulders, showing you just how different a world it was.
Conneau also won the Circuit d’Europe (Tour of Europe), a route that took it from Paris-Liege-Spa-Utrecht-Brussels-Calais-London-Calais-Paris, winning on July 7, 1911.
Conneau/Beaumont also won the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain Race (England and Scotland) on July 26, 1911, flying a Blériot XI.
He also participated in the 1911 Paris to Madrid race beginning May 21, 1911. The race is infamous only because of the injuries and deaths that occurred upon the race’s beginning. See Wikipedia HERE – for a brief outline on that.
In 1913 he co-founded the Franco-British Aviation (FBA) to build flying boats known as a hydroplane (or in French as a Hydravions)
The FBA was headquartered in London, England, Great Britain, maintained a factory in Paris, France, and thanks to its set-up, serviced both the French and British.
Conneau flew as a flying boat pilot during WWI, commanding squadrons at Nice, Bizerte, Dunkirk and Venice.
Between 1915-1919, Conneau was the guy in charge of perfecting the hydroplane on behalf of the French Navy.
After the war, Conneau continued to work in the hydroplane industry, taking up the position of technical director for the French firm Donnet-Lévèque.
Despite living until the age of 57, dying in France on August 5, 1937, the memory of Jean Louis Conneau aka André Beaumont has faded into the hangar with time.