How today’s aerospace world evolved…from the earliest dreams of flying,,, to the 12 second airplane flight that gave humanity its wings… to a planet driven by aerospace an now venturing ever deeper into space.
First successful heavier – than – air machine flight, Aviation was really born on the sand dunes at Kitty Hawk, N.C., when Orville Wright crawled to his prone positon between the wings of the biplane he and his brother Wilbur had built, opened the throttle of their homemade 12 – horsepower engine, and took to the air. He covered 120 ft in 12 sec. Later that day In one of four flights, Wilbur stayed up 59 sec. and covered 852 ft.
From the limited starting point the race was on for would – be aviators to fly further and higher. Most early plane designs were based on that of the Wright brothers first successful flyer with an elevator on the nose and propellers to push the plane forwards.
Bleriot’s early attempts.
Louis Bleriot, born in 1872 near Cambrai, France, started a business making headlamps and other automobile accessories. He used the money he made to research aeronautics an quickly started experimenting with designs for his own plane.
For Bleriot’s first attempts at flight he used gliders which were towed along the Seine. He then, began to experiment with powered aircraft, first using box – kite biplanes and then tail-first monoplanes similar to that used by the Wright brothers. In 1903 he joined together with fellow inventor Gabriel Voisin and together they worked on designs for a monoplane with a cockpit. Unfortunately they were unsuccessful and parted company when the business began to fail. Inventing solo again, Bleriot created the Vleriot V, the worlds first successful monoplane. This model was, however, prone to crashes. In 1909 Bleriot corrected some of the problems of the Bleriot V and completed the Bleriot X.
Crossing the channel
The Bleriot XI was a monoplane with a 25 horse power Anzani engine which used wing warping for stability and forward facing propellers to pull the plane through the air. Bleriot had tested it throughout the summer of 1909 over increasingly long distances.
On July 25th 1909 a race took place to cross the English Channel, a distance of som
e 23.5 miles. The three aviators take part were Bleriot, Hubert Latham and Count de Lambert. Neither of the other two could take off due to poor weather conditions. Bleriot had no compass on the Bleriot XI an encountered bad weather conditions an fog as he crosssed the channel making it difficult to find the landing site. On the other side, however, he saw a French news reporter waving a French flag and this guided him to the correct place. He landedthe plane on target breaking his landing gear in the process, but claiming the $ 1000 reward for the Daily Mail.
The ability to fly across a substantial body of water led to a change in thinking about travel and the relative distance between countries. It made trade and travel see easier, but also made countries feel more vulnerable to attack from the air.
Between 1909 and 1914, is spite of a number of errors which were investigated and corrected by Bleriot himself, 800 planes were made and Bleriot’s design was used for the simple fighter planes that were used by Britain, Italy, France, Austria and Russia in World War One. Designs were also built under license by other plane manufacturers in Europe and the USA. Bleriot became one of the leading early pioneers in the mass manufacture of aircraft and continued to manufacture planes in the post war years.