Henri Pitot was an 18th-century engineer most famous for his invention of the Pitot tube, used to this day to measure the speed on aircraft and ships.
Henri Pitot d'Aramon (3 May 1695 - 27 Dec 1771) was born in the village of Aramon, beside the Rhône river near Avignon, and died 76 years later in the same house.
Young Henri Pitot was a late starter to become interested in his scientific education. It wasn't until he was 19 that he discovered a passion for geometry, mathematics, physics, architecture and especially astronomy. His house in Aramon had a tower on top (it's still there but a not very visible from below) where he began observing the stars.
He joined the Académie Royale des Sciences de Paris as a pensionnaire in 1733 (at the age of 38). Known as an inventor, an engineer and a physician, Henri Pitot was a member of the French Académie des Sciences (1724), Académie de Lyon, de Montpellier et de Londres (G.B.), Chevalier de l'Ordre de Saint Michel (1748).
Henri had already began publishing and inventing. In 1731 he published La Théorie de la Manoeuvre des Vaisseaux (The Theory of Manoeuvring Ships) which got him elected to the Royal Society of London in 1740. The Pitot theorem of plane geometry is name after him.
In 1732 Henri Pitot invented the tube de Pitot (pitot tube), a device for measuring the speed of fluids, and which is still used in the 21st century for measuring the speed of aircraft and ships. He developed the idea when tasked with measuring the water flow of the river Seine (which passes through Paris).
An icing problem in these devices is thought to be partially responsible for the 2009 crash of Air France flight 447.
From 1740 M. Pitot worked as an engineer for Languedoc region, creating some remarkable projects.
He drained swamplands along river courses, and created anti-flooding barriers along the major rivers of the region, including the Gardon, Vidourle, Orb, Ardèche and Rhône rivers.
In 1743 Henri Pitot built the Pont Pitot attached to the Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard. He built the St-Clement Aqueduct in Montpellier, and restored the Roman bridge of Sommières and the Medieval arched bridge at Pont-Saint-Esprit.