Promised the earth
After his performance, comparable with that of Neil Armstrong as first man on the moon on July 20 1969, he is promised the earth to persuade him to do demonstrations and take part in contests, but he declines.
Exterior and interior of the accommodation for the pilots and repair
shop of their aeroplanes on 1st organized airfield in the world
Tuesday June 10 2008
Honour to whom honour is due
Before Orville Wright returns to the United States – in October 1909 – he inquires after the business of Compagnie Générale de Navigation Aérienne, owner of the Wright-patents, and its development- and sales company Société ARIEL. He finds that these present sad picture. Business goes badly. Although count de Lambert has provided impressive publicity by his tour around the Eiffel Tower, this spectacular flight cannot conceal the fact there is no interest for the American machine. Rumour has it that the French government will not buy Wrights in order not to frustrate their own rising industry, but it is only partially true. The army does not want Wrights and the demands of private aviators are already for more sophisticated machines and among the French products there is already much to choose from. The already then old-fashioned looking product of the Americans is not attractive.
At the end of 1909 Compagnie Générale de Navigation Aérienne C.G.N.A. of Lazare Weiller – which had appointed the aviator after his world-success as technical engineer, head experiments pilot-demonstrator above all occupying itself with endless litigation with regard to forgery of the Wright-patents – makes a decision: it fires Charles count de Lambert.
How far Société ARIEL, in the person of founder and director Michel William Benjamin Clémenceau (1873-1964), son of statesman Georges Clémenceau with the significant nickname ‘Tigre’, has played a part in this matter is unclear. It is certain he was a captain, commanding colonial troops which in 1918 took part in the liberation of Saint-Mihiel and in 1947 competed in the French presidential election but was crushingly defeated by Vincent Auriol. His personal description “C’est alors un homme au tempérament vif, à la voix rauque et au regard perçant qui tortille sans cesse ses moustaches entre ses doigts, signe d’une inquiétude mal dissimulée” – “He is a man of quick temper, with raucous voice and a piercing look who continuously rolls his moustache between his fingers, indication of poorly hidden uncertainty” – is not that of a kind man.
Aviator Charles de Lambert knows his worth and goes to court to obtain indemnity payment. From time to time he is seen on the airfields solely for pleasure or, in the course of 1910, on official occasions in the presence of Prince Alexander of Serbia and the meeting of the ‘Conseil National de la Navigation Aérienne’ (‘National Council of Aviation’).
During this period Cordelia countess de Lambert and Charles count de Lambert have to face another sad occurrence. On May 6 1910 at the age of 77 William Warcop Peter Consett, father, respectively father-in-law dies.
At home at 74, Rue Charles Lafitte, Neuilly (Seine) Charles de Lambert sits down at his desk on December 14 1911. He writes to the Wright brothers about the situation.
Letter of relief and of faith as well
’14 December 1911
Dear Mr. Wright,
What can you think of me!...I dare not imagine…
Well, after Tissandier and I had made up our minds to pay you a visit and had booked our places on board steamer, all sort of difficulties sprang up: my wife became very ill (she is better, but not quite well yet) that made us put off for a while, then Tissandier could not leave at once, then I myself was rather unwell. Finally it was so late in the season, that we gave the idea up for the present.
I cant tell you how disappointed we were and what a pleasure it would have been for us both seeing you all again. I hope we will succeed in getting over some day!..
The C.G.N.A. people have told me you wanted me to become your representative at their board of Directors. I answered I had not heard from you on the subject.
I will always be delighted to do any thing that can be of any use to you, but must say that I consider the C.G.N.A. people as most untrustworthy. In fact I am claiming from the Directors personally (not from the company) an indemnity for the way they behaved (breach of contract etc.).
I think you would also be entitled to claim an indemnity for the way they spoil your business. This is not only my opinion but the one of lawyer I have consulted.
The C.G.N.A. people are now insinuating that the turning over of the business to the Astra and the breach of contract with me, were done with your consent! They are trying to shift the responsibility onto you, but that wont do!
The Astra have done no good with the Wright machines and intend to give up building them. I still think there would be some business to be done here, and wish you would let me know at what price you could supply your machines, as I could sell a few here. Of course every new delay makes the situation more difficult, as the other machines, especially the Newport, are being constantly improved.
I hope you are all quite well and wont remain long without coming to France again.
My wife, May May and myself, send you our very best wishes for Christmas and the new year, as well as our affectionate remembrances.
Yours most sincerely,
Cte de Lambert’
In 1912(!) in the court of justice of trade, after pleas by Imbrecq, for Charles de Lambert, and Lestelle, on behalf of C.G.N.A., the latter is condemned to pay count de Lambert, beside an outstanding balance, a total amount of 30.000 francs because of sudden dismissal.
Justice and satisfaction for Charles count de Lambert