The Antoinette VII was one of the first aircraft successfully mass-produced and was built from 1909 onwards.
The company Société Antoinette was founded in 1904 by Léon Levavasseur. He used to deal with engines for motor boats. Based on those engines the excellent 8 cylinder Antoinette-V-engine was developed, one of the most important engines of early aviation. Beginning in 1908 Levavasseur drafted a completely new aircraft. The Antoinettes I- III were still reproductions of other aircraft. With the Antoinette IV Levavasseur constructed his famous Antoinette monoplane, which had a boat-like fuselage. With the Antoinette VI he changed the steering mechanism of the aircraft from aileron to wing warping. On April 17th, 1909 this aircraft had its first flight. Shortly before, Hubert Latham became chief pilot with Société Antoinette.
The English newspaper Daily Mail granted an award of 10.000 Pounds for whoever could first cross the English Channel. Lavavasseur wanted this prize at all costs.
On July 19, 1909 Latham took off at 6.42 a.m. for his first trial to cross the English Channel with the Antoinette IV. Latham did not succeed in crossing the English Channel and crashed after 1 km into the channel due to anengine failure. Lavavasseur improved the engine in order to have another go across the Channel with the Antoinette VII. On July 25th, 1909 the aircraft had its first flight. The same day the Frenchman Louis Blériot succeeded in crossing the Channel with his Blériot XI-monoplane. Nonetheless Lavavasseur wanted to prove that his Antoinette VII was also capable of doing so and Latham took off again on July 27. This time the aircraft almost made it, however, 25 km before the English coast there was another engine failure. Latham was rescued by the British ship Russell, a four-masted steel barque.
Despite those set-backs, further records were accomplished with the Antoinette VII. On January 7th, 1910, Latham was the first human being to reach an altitude of 1.000 m.
Within the course of the next two years Latham accomplished several records in speed and in long distance with the Antoinette VII. On April 23rd, 1910, for example, Hubert Latham won the speed record with 77,579 km/h in Nice.
Our Antoinette is a reproduction. This reproduction was ordered, together with a Farman III, by an Austrian filmproduction company in Czechoslovakia in 2009 in order to produce a film about the history of aviation. However the film project was dropped prior to the end of shooting. In 2010 the ”Fliegendes Museum” bought both aircraft and transported them to Großenhain.