Serge Vincent de Bolotoff

Serge de Bolotoff was born in Bulgaria 1888 and died in 1955. He claimed to be the fifth man to have flown an aeroplane and was an aviation pioneer (up to about 1919), who had ambitions to win the Daily Mail competition to be the first person to cross the English Channel. He was active in his field and argued in The Times, 21st December 1908, against Sir Henry Maxim's claims that aeroplanes could be used by an invading force (he argued they could not but had the potential to be deadly in other ways). In 1906 he designed a combined clutch and gear lever for automobiles, probably the first in a long line of engineering inventions.

He came to the UK with his mother, Maria the Princess Wiasemsky, and family, including his brother George with whom he went into business. It was through her that funds were secured to support the building of de Bolotoff's competition triplane in France - first flight at Châlons.

Robert Mond and de Bolotoff had gone into partnership in 1913, producing Voisin style triplanes and then a two seater known as the De Bolotoff SDEB 14, the failure of which led to the severing of their contact in 1919 and the collapse of the de Bolotoff Aeroplane Works. It is unclear, if this is the same outfit as the Bolotoff Company which was headed by Serge and George de Bolotoff and had manufactured munitions for the Russian Government during the First World War and had worked with the Ministry of Munitions.

Serge de Bolotoff married Rosalie Selfridge, daughter of Harry Gordon Selfridge on 7th August 1918; they had one daughter, Tatiana, in 1919. Harry, Serge and Rosalie lived together after Harry was ousted from Selfridges department store. 

View the full collection description on our archive catalogue: PER/106