Fundraisers of the early 1900s literally aimed for the sky.
While doing my homework for a themed corporate running tour last week, I came across old photographs and several reports of an epic fundraiser that took place at the long gone Porto's own Crystal Palace/Palácio de Cristal.
Hundreds of people bought tickets to see an airplane that had been purchased solely for that purpose: to be the main attraction of that charity event!
The following -true- story took place in Porto, late summer, in 1912. It is a perfect example of the entrepreneurial attitude of those times - still embroidered in most Portuenses you'll meet (...)
Let's start with the next day's news.
in Jornal de Notícias, September 8, 1912:
"Yesterday, at 6:10 pm, after the strong winds slowed down, the first flight of 'O Commercio do Porto’'s biplane finally took place.
The apparatus, deftly maneuvered by Mr. Trescartes, rose gracefully from the airfield and cut through the sky in several directions".
This is how the national newspaper described the second flight ever of an airplane in Portugal, from an improvised airfield by the Atlantic ocean, next to the fort Castelo do Queijo.
According to the chronicles, a large crowd of over 60.000 people wanted to see the clunky machine take off.
After one test, the MF4 biplane rose to 300 meters, performed a few flyovers and headed towards the centre of Porto, passing over the Douro River, Liberdade's square, Marquês and Torre dos Clérigos. Airborne for 16 minutes...
source: JN archives
What was the money for?
Raising funds for the 'o Commercio do Porto' daycare centres was the pretext for this pioneering enterprise. Its idea came from a prominent industrial, Mr. António da Silva Marinho, who acquired the small military plane in Paris, transporting it to Porto on a steamboat.
The bi-plane on display inside the Palacio de Cristal (1912). The Farman aviation works MF bi-plaine was manufactured in France, included a dual Renault engine and could fly as fast as 80km/h!
Numerous entities and people joined the charity initiative. The governor offered security at the Palácio de Cristal, the venue used for both for the assembly of the plane and to serve as a place for it to be exhibited; The city's military chiefs lent their military bands to liven up the space, which was duly decorated with flags and flowers.
The facade of the Palácio de Cristal in 1912, a venue built for industrial expos and trade shows.
Sérgio é o fundador da Porto Running Tours, corre regularmente desde 1999 e desde 2015 que guia visitas em corrida na Invicta enquanto revela algumas das suas mais fascinantes histórias.
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