Credit: CAIA
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100 years ago military aeronautical engineers allowed the flight of the first drone

20 April 2023 Article
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On April 17, 1923, with the support of Engineer General Portant, director of the Service Technique de l'Aéronautique, Max Boucher, commander of the Avord base, succeeded in guiding a Voisin BN3 droned aircraft from the ground in Étampes (Essone), after initial tests on a Voisin 150HP in Avord (Cher) in July 1917.

The success of 1923 is based on the contributions of the engineer Maurice Percheron (S1912) aiming at stabilizing the aircraft by controlling the mechanical actuators of the plane in reaction to gusts of wind or to the commands of its remote pilot. Maurice Percheron had indeed published 2 years earlier: "L'aviation de demain. Télémécanique. The direction of the planes by TSF". The radio-controlled aircraft was born! But the war is over, and the army lost interest in the project.

A bit of history:

Theengineer Maurice Percheron graduated from our school in 1912. It was then the Ecole Supérieure d'Aéronautique et de Construction Mécanique (ESA or ESACM), the first engineering school specializing in aeronautics, which was opened in Paris in 1909 by an engineering officer, Colonel Roche. This school, nationalized in 1930, became the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique (ENSA) and became known as "Sup'Aéro". Thanks to its success, the ENSA moved to new premises in Paris, at 32 Boulevard Victor in 1932, then to Toulouse in 1968 where it took the name of Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace (ENSAE) in 1972, until it became ISAE-SUPAERO in 2007 with its merger with ENSICA.

The school's vacated space at 32 Boulevard Victor in Paris was used to set up the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées (now ENSTA Paris), which took over the heritage of prestigious Ecoles Nationales Supérieures: Maritime Engineering (school of royal shipbuilders, founded in 1741), Naval Hydrography (founded in 1814), Powder Engineering (founded in 1900) and Armaments (founded in 1936) ENSTA also vacated its Parisian site in 2012 to move next door to the École Polytechnique and make way for the Ministry of the Armed Forces to regroup in its "hexagon" at Balard

Information taken from a LinkedIn post published by Les Ingénieurs de l'Armement : CAIA

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