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Narrative:The Aviation Week of Antwerp (Vliegweek van Antwerpen/Semaine d'Aviation d'Anvers) was held from October 23rd to November 2nd 1909. While not the first time that an aircraft had flown in Belgium, it was the first time an event was held in Belgium where multiple aircraft and pilots would hold public flying demonstration to the larger public.
|Saturday 23 October 1909
|Pierre de Caters
|Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
|Wilrijkse Pleinen, Antwerpen -
| Take off
Thirteen early aviators agreed to participate in the event. Among them was Baron Pierre de Caters (1875-1944). At the time of the event, Baron de Caters was already a very experienced pilot: he had made his first flight on September 25th 1908 as either the first or second Belgian (after Emile Allard) to fly in an heavier-than-air vehicle.
The timing of the event was unfortunate - the aviation week took place in the last week of October, and was marked by generally poor weather, with gusts and rain making flying impossible at times. The inaugural day of the event saw a crowd of 70.000 gather at the military exercise fields known as the 'Wilrijkse Pleinen' outside the Antwerp city walls; much to the annoyance of those present, gusty weather meant that the flights kept being postponed.
At around 5 pm, Baron de Caters finally made an number of attempts to fly his Voisin biplane. A first attempt was successful: de Caters managed to cover a distance of about 500m at an altitude of around 4 to 5 meters, much to the gathered crowd's pleasure. Encouraged by this, de Caters then made a second attempt, however on take-off the Voisin biplane was caught by a gust, touched the ground with one wing and cartwheeled. Baron de Caters escaped with only minor facial injuries, but his aircraft was severely damaged in the accident.
Tilburgse Courant, 26 October 1909
75 jaar luchtvaart Antwerpen, J.D. Ghoos, Uitgeverij De Vlijt, 1984 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_de_Caters