René Simon (aviator)

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René Simon
René Simon, ca 1911
Born8 December 1885
Died21 April 1947 (1947-04-22) (aged 61)
Other names"Flying Fool"

René Simon (8 December 1885 – 21 April 1947) was a French aviator.[1]


He was born in Paris and earned French license #177 from the Aero Club De France. He toured the United States in 1911–12 with the Moisant International Aviators. He became known for daring tactics and was called the Flying-Fool by the public.[2] What has been termed "the first airplane rescue at sea by another airplane" was made on 14 August 1911.[3] Simon had been flying over Lake Michigan in a monoplane when his plane accidentally went into the water but did not sink. Pilot Hugh Robinson in a Curtiss hydroplane spotted him and offered to fly him back to shore, but Simon, who was comfortable and smoking a cigarette,[4] preferred to wait for a boat to come and tow both him and his plane back to dry land.[5]

In February 1911 the Mexican government engaged Simon to reconnoiter rebel positions near Juarez, Mexico.[6][7] During World War I he commanded a squadron that taught acrobatic tactics to fighter pilots. Simon was married by the time of World War I and had a commission as a Capitaine(Captain). He and his wife often dined with high-ranking military officials.

René Simon died in Cannes on 21 April 1947.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rene Simon,
  2. ^ "René Simon". THE EARLY BIRDS OF AVIATION. George Ficke. 2005. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  3. ^ Kane 1997, p. 37.
  4. ^ "Aviators Plunge Into Lake From High Altitudes". Buffalo Courier. International News. August 15, 1911. p. 1 – via
  5. ^ "Lake Front Throng Sees 5 Aviators Fall – 2 In Lake". The Inter Ocean. Chicago. August 15, 1911. p. 1 – via
  6. ^ Kenneth Baxter Ragsdale Wings over the Mexican Border 1984 "In February 1911, the Mexican government engaged René Simon, a member of an aerial circus touring the southwestern United States, to reconnoiter rebel positions near Juarez, Mexico."
  7. ^ Gavin Mortimer Chasing Icarus: The Seventeen Days in 1910 That Forever Changed American Aviation 2010 Page 263 "René Simon and René Barrier had ."
  8. ^ "Les écoles militaires de pilotage de 1911 à 1918".


  • Kane, Joseph Nathan (1997). Famous First Facts, Fifth Edition. The H. W. Wilson Company. ISBN 0-8242-0930-3. The first airplane rescue at sea by another airplane was made by Hugh Robinson on August 14, 1911. Pilot Rene Simon had been flying over Lake Michigan in a monoplane and dived down to wave to some motorboats. Unable to rise, he crashed into the lake. Robinson, in a Curtiss hydroplane, flew over to Simon and found him in his floating plane smoking a cigar. Robinson hailed several people in motorboats, and they towed Simon and his monoplane to the shore.