el Magnoun el Faransawi: Le fou volant du Mokattam

To those interested in flying. Have u ever heard that one of the first experiences to fly happened here in Cairo??

I stumbled upon an old article in a francophone magazine (it’s called Image) published in Egypt in 1949, and  found this interesting article (in the end of the post). It talks about a Frenchman who lived in Egypt during the late 19th century. He was obsessed with the idea of flying. Even though he didn’t have lots of resources, he concentrated on watching the dynamics of flying of the birds, and was able to design some sort of a glider (like the one we see these days), that people called him el magnoun el faransawi!!

He wrote an important book ( Empire of the Air) with his remarks, it’s said that the principles he put were very useful later on (the article says that Wright brothers called him the prophet of aviation!)

What interested me in this article was not the fact that he lived in Egypt during his experiments, but how his life was like. Imagine this with me…. A Frenchman, living in Egypt, working as a teacher, with a passion for flying, experimenting and monitoring day and night, no money, wrote a book, talked to people who knew that he was right, yet he died without seeing the flourishing of his work 😦


I found in this site a lot of information about him, but it’s funny that it was removed and put “under construction”. Will have to check it again…

Another thing, that may not be of interest to many, is his correspondances with Octave Chanut (A french-born American engineer who provided Wright brothers with help and advice)

I also found an interesting article from The New York Times, published in March 3, 1912. It talks about the monument that was built for him in Heliopolis, 15 years after his death (my mother told me that she saw this monument when she was young, but I don’t think it is still there). Some paragraphs in this article really made me feel sad: Mouillard spoke to a small audience… he had pointed the way, and ten years after his death the Wrights proved that he had solved the mystery… Never was there a life which seemed more a failure than Louis Moulliard’s. When he died, in 1897, he could look back on a career of honest effort that has met only with disappointment and misfortune…

So here is the article that made me thank monsieur Louis with all my heart. Without his dedication despite all the odds, my life wouldn’t have been the same….



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