Thursday, February 14, 2019

New photos reveal Houdini's Voisin

While browsing the online archives of the National Library of Australia (via Trove), I discovered two terrific high resolution photos of Houdini and his Voisin biplane that I've not seen before. The photos reveal nice details of the plane with Houdini at the wheel. [Click all photos below to enlarge.]

This first photo shows the plane being tended to by a ground crew.

Here's a blowup of Houdini who appears to be calling out instructions from the cockpit. Notice how you can see the stitching on the plane.

This blowup shows nice details of the wheels and shock absorbers. Also notice the wheel blocks.

Below you can see Houdini's French mechanic Antonio Brassac inflating the wheel using a bicycle pump. I wonder who the man is with his hands with his pockets?

This next image shows Houdini either preparing for takeoff or taxing in his Voisin. This is credited to the Sydney Morning Herald and Sydney Mail and is captioned: "First controlled flight in Australia, made by Harry Houdini in a Voisin biplane at Diggers Rest, Victoria." Is this the historic moment itself?

I wonder what happened to the top of Harry's "H"? Also notice the Voisin's canvas was thin enough to be transparent in the sunlight.

You can view and zoom into the full resolution versions HERE (photo 1) and HERE (photo 2).



  1. Thanks for sharing these. Amazing resolution - one normally doesn't get to see how intricate some of these early planes really were. Houdini's definitely in his element - and wearing a stiff collar, no less!

    1. My pleasure. With these images one could build a very accurate reproduction. I'd love to see one full size!

    2. I know the Smithsonian has some great old planes on display(including, of course, the Wright Bros' first plane) but don't recall if they have anything resembling Houdini's Voisin. I'll try to remember to take a look online this weekend and see what else they have; would be interesting to find out.

    3. I recall there being one on display somewhere. Don't think it was the Smithsonian. Can't find it now.

    4. Did some quick searches and found a 1912 full-size bi-plane at the National Air and Space Museum, a little later and more sophisticated than Houdini's. It would be cool to examine one of these early planes at close range! The link is: