While the name Daher-Socata is new, the roots of the company can be traced back to the beginnings of man's adventure with the airplane, starting 100 years ago under the name Morane-Saulnier. Over the last century, the company has developed 94 models and produced more than 17,000 aircraft. It also participated in many aviation firsts: the world’s first air race, first Mediterranean air crossing, first machine-gun firing through the propeller system and the first sliding canopy.
Prior to creating his own company, Raymond Saulnier worked for Blériot for the Channel crossing airplane and was the first engineer to publish a book about airplane technology. In 1911 he partnered with his friend Léon Morane, the first aviator, to break the 50 mph speed barrier, and his sportsman brother Robert to develop monoplanes that produced far superior performance compared to the biplanes of the time. They had their first success the same year at the world’s first air race, the Paris-Madrid, won by a Morane flown by Jules Védrines.
The next year Frenchman George Mestach toured the United States with a similar airplane and made the second U.S. airmail delivery from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Purchased by pioneer aviator Earl S. Daugherty, creator of the Long Beach airfield in California, this airplane is currently on display at the Canadian National Aviation Museum in Ottawa.
In France 1912 models, Type G and H, made the brand more distinctive, with more streamlined lines. Famous aviator Roland Garros joined the team and influenced Raymond to reduce airframe weight to improve the power/weight ratio and flight controls. After setting a world altitude record of 15,000 feet in December 1912, Garros made the first successful air crossing of the Mediterranean with Type H monoplane in September 1913.
Morane-Saulnier aircraft subsequently accumulated 1,000 miles of flight distance during a number of historic crossings without incident – giving credibility to the idea that aviation could mature into a true transportation tool. Among milestone flights were Domingo Rosillo’s first time crossing from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, in May 1913 and Marc Pourpe’s 1,250-mile journey from Cairo to Khartoum in January 1914, assisted by Raoul Lufbery, a future war ace of the famous Lafayette escadrille.