On September 10, 1911, French aviator Rene Simon completed the first successful airplane flight in St. Joseph County on a Bleriot Monoplane. A crowd of 30,000 onlookers gathered at a field located near the southeast corner of Ironwood and Dragoon Trail to watched as Simon made local history before their eyes by manning the first recorded airplane flight in the Michiana area. He had shipped the plane to South Bend by rail and it was assembled in the area. Simon was among the new daredevils capturing the attention of the entire country following the December 17, 1903, flight of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Born on December 8, 1885, Simon earned his pilot’s license in 1910. Following that, he flew to various parts of the United States, marking the first recorded airplane flight in more than one area. At one point, Simon even broke the world’s record for one mile by completing it in 57 seconds.
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