Vendôme-Lalièvre: Charmant petit mammifère.

This stubby monoplane was conceived by Lt. Eugene Lalièvre and built by the Vendôme company in 1912. The design was notorious for its characteristic low mounted engine which drove the high placed  propeller via a chain. First flown in late 1912, the Vendôme-Lalièvre flew frequently until Aug. 1913 when its crashed.

Lovely toy-like little thing.

Dirigible Torres Quevedo: ¡Qué Inventen Ellos!

Talking the other day about my Astra-Torres AT‘s post, I noticed the photo didn’t show the main feature of Torres Quevedo’s concept: its characteristic tri-lobed configuration. Not the same fault with this one. This is the first airship built in Spain by the Air Navigation Laboratory headed by its inventor. The studies started in 1905 and concluded three years later with its successful tests undertaken at the Parque Aeronáutico de Guadalajara. This stupendous Will’s Cigarette Card was created using a photo taken during those 1908 tests. The design was offered to the Spanish government which passed up, as usual. Torres Quevedo sold later the patent to Astra.

“Let them (others) do the inventing!” Miguel de Unamuno. Spain in a nutshell.

Odier-Vendôme biplane: Look Ma, No Hands !!

Carrying the name of its designer (Antoine Odier) and ordered by Turcat-Méry race car driver Henri Rougier, this elegant pusher biplane was built by the Vendôme company. According to the most fiable sources it appeared in 1909 and was (under)powered by one of Rougier’s employers 18hp Turcat-Méry engines. A later improved tractor biplane followed in 1910, sadly with less arched wings.

The designer was also the pilot when this precious photo was taken. He also made the first flight of this, his first aircraft in May 27, 1909…, which was also Odier’s first flight, ever. Routine back then.

Todd biplane: Mammy Cool.

E. Lillian Todd sitting behind the wheel of her brainchild. This turn of the century inventor was the first woman who became an aeronautical engineer (self-taught); so her biplane was accordingly the first one designed by any woman (1909-10).

I’m not trying to be disrespectful with the “Mammy Cool” comment. She looks here as stiff as a poker anyway.

Savary 1910 Biplane: A footnote to an icon.

Robert Savary had accumulated a considerable experience by they time it presented his 1910 biplane. His second powered design -he had two previous failures with gliders-, it was a development and scaled-up version of the first one. Like the latter, it was a sort of Wright Flyer copy. More “Wright”, in fact: his 1910 biplane employed also Wright’s twin propellers driven by a single engine (60 hp ENV) configuration.
The biplane was shown at the 1910 Reims Meeting where it proved to be, like all Savary’s designs, a rather heavy contraction.

Photo take at the Meeting. Three examples were entered, but only the one flown by André Frey appeared, rather poorly. In this cute photo next to a real racehorse: the Blériot XI flown by Alfred Leblanc who took first place in the Gordon Bennett Trophy qualifications.

Blard Canard: Barely flying, at speed.

This pretty neat all-metal canard monoplane was the brainchild of Lt. Blard. Designed in secret for military use, he chose the canard configuration trying to get the of both worlds: monoplane’s speed and biplane’s visibility. A very close coupled design built around a sturdy tripod structure and powered by a 50 hp Gnôme, the canard was tested unsuccessfully during 1912.

Really awesome photo quality. That Roold crash helmet is always a treat to my eyes.

1912 Bertin Monoplane: Everyone laughed….

From his long distance bicycle racer and trainer beginnings in the late 1890s, Léonce Bertin evolved into a motorcycle engine designer/builder and aviation pioneer. In the latter area he started his experiments with helicopters. Unsuccessful in his three rotary designs, he turned his attention to the “easier” fixed wing aircraft. This is the second, and last, of his monoplane designs (his 5th design in total) . Built in 1912, like in all of his previous conceptions Bertin was also the mind behind the engines; in this case a 100 hp twin X 8-cylinder marvel. This decent performer’s story ended tragically. On the summer of 1913 its wing collapsed in flight taking the lives of Bertin and his son, René.

A businesslike and pretty enough monoplane. No identified, but the crew here could well be Bertin father and son.

Bristol Boxkite: “Forty centuries look down (up?) upon you.”

Bristol original idea was to produced Voisin’s Zodiac biplane under licence, but after that design proved to be a flop, their classic pusher biplane was conceived copying the basic formula of the Farman III. The first successful aircraft built by the company, this no-nonsense biplane was also a commercial success with a decent production quantity and some sales abroad. First flown in the summer of 1910, the type was employed by Bristol for instruction purposes at their own flying schools, a situation that continued well into WW1. It produced a fair amount of British military flyers.

Magnificent photo of one of them flying over Stonehenge, Salisbury Plains. Maybe the flight made by Capt. Bertram Dickson on 1910. Bristol had a flying school near, at Larkhill.

Avioplanul Goliescu 2: Convoluted, maybe wicked.

This funny-looking monoplane was the brainchild of the genial, but also questionable character, Rodrig Goliescu. This Rumanian artillery officer and engineer conceived in France his Avioplanul Goliescu 2 after previous experiments in his home country. Built in 1909 by a local company, this tubular fuselage monoplane equipped with a 25 hp Buchet engine had its propeller placed in a short of “tube fan” configuration. Both features pioneered by Goliescu. The aircraft seems to have flown fairly satisfactorily in late 1909. After that the life of its inventor went downright with game addiction, dubious business enterprises and even jail accused of spy.

As this neat drawing shows, his contraction displayed some grace among all its complication.