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 François Coli

François Coli

Marseille, Departement des Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Death 8 May 1927 (aged 46)
At Sea
Cenotaph Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 21580 · View Source
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Aviator. Born in Marseilles of a Corsican seafaring family, his father a sailor. Francois became a merchant captain, he married, and produced three daughters. With the outbreak of World War I he offered his services to the French Navy. Because no warships needed a captain, he entered the army as a private. Fortunately, his age and experience gained him a commission in 1915 and that summer he was promoted to captain. Suffering multiple wounds, he was declared unfit for infantry service and transferred to the French Air Service, gaining his pilot's brevet in March 1916. Late that year he joined Escadrille N.62 and rose to command the squadron in February 1917. Captain Coli remained as chief of the Escadrille des Coqs even after losing an eye in a crash in March 1918. He departed the Roosters that August with a reputation as an exceptional navigator and leader. On January 26, 1919, he achieved the first double crossing of the Mediterranean with Lieutenant Henri Roget. The flight established the over-water distance record of 735 kilometers (457 statute miles) in five hours. On May 24, again with Roget, Francois set a long-distance record from Paris to Port Lyautey, Morocco, a distance of 2,200 kilometers (1,400 mi). He was injured in the crash at the end of the flight. The following year, 1920, with Joseph Sadi-Lecointe, Francois made further long-distance flights around the Mediterranean. In 1923 Coli began planning a nonstop transatlantic flight with wartime comrade Paul Tarascon, a leading ace. In 1925 they became interested in the Orteig prize of $25,000 for the first flight between Paris and New York. Late in 1926 an accident destroyed their Potez 25 biplane and Tarascon was badly burned. A new aircraft was sought, and Tarascon relinquished his place as pilot to Charles Nungesser. In 1928, the Ontario Surveyor General named a number of lakes in the northwest of the province to honour aviators who had perished during 1927, mainly in attempting oceanic flights. Among these are Coli Lake and Nungesser Lake. The plane they used the White Bird is still lost.

Bio by: Shock




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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 17 Apr 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 21580
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for François Coli (5 Feb 1881–8 May 1927), Find A Grave Memorial no. 21580, citing Cimetière de Montparnasse, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .