I took so many photos during my vacation that there is no way to post all of them at once. Instead, I will create short articles about the things I saw on my visits dans les Pays de la Loire in the upcoming weeks. I hope you will bear with me and check my site often for updates. My first article was about the Cathédrale Saint-Julien in Le Mans. This one is about the statue in the center of town near the Place des Jacobins (just below the cathedral) in memory of Wilbur Wright and the pioneers of aviation. The front features two medallions. The first is of Léon Bollée, a French automobile manufacturer and inventor who allowed the Wright brothers to use his factory in Le Mans to perfect their motors for the Wright Flyer. The other medallion is of Orville Wright. Below them is a diagram of the Wright Flyer that Wilbur Wright flew at Hunaudières (the site of Le Mans Speedway) on August 8, 1908 to prove to the sceptical French that he and his brother had really mastered flight and could claim the title as the first aviators. In a series of exhibition flights, Wilbur managed to dissipate all doubts. His first flight lasted only one minute 45 seconds, but his ability to effortlessly make banking turns and fly a circle amazed and stunned the French onlookers, including several pioneer French aviators. A statue depicting a man reaching for the heavens tops the monument. Along with a short history the achievements made by the Wright brothers, the monument also immortalizes the first world record for flight distance and duration made in Auvours on September 21, 1908. The left side of the monument is dedicated to the precursors of flight with a high relief of the departure of Icarus and a list of pioneers of aviation through the ages. The right side is dedicated to victims of aviation including a high relief of the death of Icarus. The back tells of the inauguration of the monument and includes the emblem of the city of Le Mans, the seal of the state of Ohio and the name of the sculptor (Paul Landowski) and architect (Paul Bigot). Check out some great photographs by Julien Prangère and Pierre Pécastaingts detailing the artwork of the monument at the Aérostèles web page.