André Dubonnet in 1933
|Born||28 June 1897|
|Died||20 January 1980(aged 82)|
|Awards||Légion d'honneur, Médaille militaire, Croix de guerre|
André Dubonnet (28 June 1897 – 20 January 1980) was a French flying ace, athlete, race car driver, and inventor. Dubonnet was the son of Joseph Dubonnet, founder of the Dubonnet apéritif firm, from which he inherited substantial wealth.
Early life and military service
André Dubonnet was born in Paris on 28 June 1897. He began military service as an artilleryman, but switched to aviation. He was credited with six aerial victories as a pilot during World War I. Flying a SPAD XIII, he shared two out of his three May 1918 victories with Frank Baylies, teamed up with Fernand Henri Chavannes to destroy an observation balloon on 13 June, and split a pair of wins on 16 August 1918, with Joseph de Sevin and Captain Battle.
Between the world wars
In December 1922, André Dubonnet married Claude Sampieri, daughter of Count Charles Sampieri and Irène Cahen d'Anvers, and granddaughter of the banker Louis Cahen d'Anvers. He would have two daughters with Claude, France and Lorraine.
During the 1920s, Dubonnet competed in Olympic bobsledding as well as racing cars for Bugatti and Hispano-Suiza. He later spent much of his fortune developing inventions. He successfully sold an automobile suspension system (système Dubonnet) to General Motors, but nearly went bankrupt late in life while working on solar energy. He also developed several aerodynamic studies and commissioned some special aerodynamic cars to be built for him. In 1930, Dubonnet married Xenia Johnson, who died not long afterward. André met his second wife, the American Ruth Obre, during his dealings with GM’s Alfred P. Sloan, famed for his visions of the automaker’s incremental product levels and planned obsolescence. Both women figured in Dubonnet’s continuing tale.
Dubonnet became a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur in January 1936.
World War II and beyond
Sources of information
- "Milestones, Feb. 4, 1980". Time. February 4, 1980.
- Over the Front: The Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the United States and French Air Services, 1914–1918, pp. 155 - 156
- The Aerodrome website  Retrieved on 2 May 2010.
- Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "André Dubonnet Olympic Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
- SPAD XII/XIII aces of World War I. p. 18.
- SPAD XII/XIII aces of World War I. Jon Guttman. Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1841763160, 9781841763163.
- Franks, Norman; Bailey, Frank (1993). Over the Front: The Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the United States and French Air Services, 1914–1918 London, UK: Grub Street Publishing. ISBN 978-0-948817-54-0.
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