Henri Crombez
Henri Crombez
Henri Crombez, the Belgian representative in the 1913 Gordon Bennett
cup race, shown in a Deperdussin monocoque
(Belgian Institute, Brussels)

from CONTACT by Henry Serrano Villard, p. 189
by Henry Serrano Villard
Selected Passages
     "The starters in the Coupe Internationale d'Aviation on September 29 numbered four--three French and one Belgian. I addition to Prévost (who had been second in the 1912 contest at Chicago), two other noted aviators were on hand to defend French possession of the trophy: Emile Védrines, brother of the 1912 winner; and Eugéne Gilbert, persistent pursuer of long-distance records. Henri Crombez, the fair-haired, twenty-year-old holder of Belgium's altitude record and inaugurator of his country's first aerial post during the recent Exposition of Ghent, was the only other competitor."

Henri Crombez
Henri Crombez
Henri Crombez seated in his Depedussin monoplane.
(Belgian Institute, Brussels)

from CONTACT by Henry Serrano Villard, p. 190


Crombez's Deperdussin

The first Belgian Air Mail service took place from Sint-Denis-Westrem during the Ghent 1913 international exhibition. It has been operated by Henri Crombez from May 1st to Aug. 25. Crombez used three different planes : his "old" Deperdussin 50 HP, then a second one with 80 HP, and finally, another 80 HP one purchased by a division created within the exhibition organisation comitee for the development of air mail .........which he later bought back.

.........With this plane, he ran for the Gordon Bennet cup in Reims (France) on Sept. 29, 1913. He made the 4th place behind Prevost, Vedrines et Gilbert.........

......From Oct. 1st 1913, Henri Crombez joined the "Compagnie d'Aviateurs" (Airmen company), a group of pilots who made themselves, and their aircrafts available for the army. The group will ultimately lead to the creation of the "Belgian Air Force".....

......On Oct. 6, 1914, German forces attacked the Ans airfield where Henri Crombez and his friends were based; he was not able to take off (lack of power) and decided to burn the plane before escaping with his engineer and another pilot, Jules de Laminne to Wilrijk.

The original text was found on this forum :

Bron: Dhanens Piet, Een eeuw luchtvaart boven Gent, Deel 1 1785-1939, blz. 52-60; Vrancken Ludo, De geschiedenis van de Belgische militaire vliegerij 1910-1918, blz. 47.

Translated from Nederlands by www.pfiquet.be


Henri Crombez
Le Roi Albert en avion avec le Lt. Crombez
Photo Daniel Brackx

     If you search for "Henri Crombez" +aviation , using Google, (9-27-07), you will find about 31 links. However, most of them only present brief anecdotes from his career. I found more information of interest from Villard's book.


The Story of the Early Birds
Man's first decade of flight from Kitty Hawk to World War I
Henry Serrano Villard

Foreward by S. PAUL JOHNSTON
Director, National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian Institution

     In today's age of space probes and moon rockets, it is hard to believe that the aeroplane is scarcely sixty years old. Here Henry Serrano Villard, who knew many of the pioneer pilots and flew in their "bits of stick and string,"re-creates the romantic era when man first dared the miracle of flight. His anecdotal account, illustrated with 125 photographs--many from his personal album--covers the decade and a half of aeronautical history from the Wright brothers' exploits at Kitty Hawk to the outbreak of World War I.
Editor's Note:
     I had the pleasure of knowing Henry for several years before his death. I found him to be a delightful companion and a remarkable source of information on the entire field of aviation. I can recommend his book, without hesitation, as an essential resource for anyone interested in the history of early aviation.

Henri Benjamin Crombez was born in Lombardsijde on 16 may 1893.
He was the son of Henri Louis Benjamin Ghislain Crombez and Marie Antoinette Leclercq. He died on January 27, 1960
from First 100 Pilots in Belgium

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on any of these pioneer aviators,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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