HI1D902V - The History of Aviation before Jet Planes (1783-1945)

Research Master’s - Specialisation "History, Civilization and Heritage" - Track 2: History and Heritage of Aeronautics and Space

This course is entirely in English and examines in depth the pioneers of aeronautics and space exploration, emphasizing the aspects of museography and the political and ideological heritage of their accomplishments. This course will analyse archival and museography sources, drawing on different national (such as the Aéroscopia Museum in Toulouse, the Cité de l’espace Museum in Toulouse, and the Musée de l'Air in Bourget near Paris) and international sites (the Smithsonian in Washington, Monino Museum near Moscow, and the RAF Museum and Farnborough near London).

The first section of the course is devoted to hot air balloons and to the first heavier-than-air projects between 1783 and 1903. The following courses discuss the Wright brothers and their stay in Europe (1903-1909), the feats and the large-scale popular aviation shows during the Belle Epoque (1909-1914), the First World War and the invention of fighter planes and bombers (1914-1918), the first airline companies and race to set records in the interwar period (1919-1939), and finally the Second World War (1939-1945). Examples will be taken from around the world and especially in the following countries: France, the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Russia, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Senegal and Morocco.

This class totalling 25 hours is organized as a seminar that meets four times for six and one- on a Thursday (9:30 to 12:30 and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.). The four Thursdays are announced at the beginning of the academic year (one in September, one in October, one in November and one in December). These seminars are interactive: they include a lecture as well as students’ presentations of their research.


A select bibliography will be given at the beginning of the semester. Students can start with this book chapter : "The beginnings of a new weapon believed to be decisive (late 18th century-1913)", In Jean-Marc OLIVIER (dir.), Histoire de l’armée de l’air et des forces aériennes françaises du XVIIIe siècle à nos jours, Toulouse, Privat, 2014, Chapter 1, p. 15-47 (English version).