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D’Angelis Biplane
Giacomo D’Angelis, a confectioner from Messina, Italy, arrived in Madras in 1880. He ran a flourishing confectionery business, and in due course of time established Hotel D’Angelis, Madras’s finest hotel of the time, in Mount Road. Inspired by Frenchman Louise Bleriot’s flight across the English Channel in 1909, D’Angelis built a bi-plane, with the help of Simpson’s, entirely from his own designs. The airplane was powered by a small horse-power engine. He tested his aeroplane at Pallavaram, and then arranged for a public viewing, for a fee, in March 1910. D’Angelis made the first public flight on March 26, 1910 from Island Grounds. Clearly, Madras pioneered the first flight in India, and may be in Asia as well. Subramania Bharati wrote in 1910 about the plane that was built by Tamil workers in the workshop of Simpson’s. Then, in 1914, J W Madley, the civil engineer who built Madras’s water supply system, assembled an aeroplane and flew from Island Grounds over the Red Hills water reservoir to make an aerial assessment with photographs.
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