Dienstag, 1. Oktober 2013

Blériot XI - papermodel & wire 1/72

The Blériot XI is the aircraft that was used by Louis Blériot on 25 July 1909 to make the first flight across the English Channel made in a heavier-than-air aircraft. This achievement is one of the most famous accomplishments of the "pioneer era" of aviation, and not only won Blériot a lasting place in history but also assured the future of his aircraft manufacturing business. The event caused a major reappraisal of the importance of aviation; the English newspaper, The Daily Express, led its story of the flight with the headline, "Britain is no longer an Island". It was produced in both single and two-seat versions, powered by a number of different engines and was widely used for competition and training purposes. Military versions were bought by many countries, continuing in service until after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Two restored examples — one each in the United Kingdom and the United States — of original Blériot XI aircraft are thought to be the two oldest flyable aircraft in the world.

The Blériot XI gained lasting fame on 25 July 1909 when Blériot crossed the English Channel from Calais to Dover, winning a £1,000 prize awarded by the Daily Mail. For several days, high winds had grounded Blériot and his rivals: Hubert Latham, who flew an Antoinette monoplane, and Count de Lambert, who brought two Wright biplanes. On 25 July, when the wind had dropped in the morning and the skies had cleared, Blériot took off at sunrise. Flying without the aid of a compass, he deviated to the east of his intended course, but, nonetheless, spotted the English coast to his left. Battling turbulent wind conditions, Blériot made a heavy "pancake" landing, damaging the undercarriage and shattering one blade of the propeller, but he was unhurt. The flight had taken 36.5 minutes and had made Blériot a celebrity, instantly resulting in many orders for copies of his aircraft.
The aircraft, which never flew again, was hurriedly repaired and put on display at Selfridges department store in London. It was later displayed outside the offices of the French newspaper Le Matin, and eventually bought by the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris.

After the successful crossing of the English Channel, there was a great demand for Blériot XIs. By the end of September 1909, orders had been received for 103 aircraft. After an accident at an aviation meeting in Istanbul in December 1909, Blériot gave up competition flying, and the company's entries for competitions were flown by other pilots, including Alfred Leblanc, who had managed the logistics of the cross-channel flight, and subsequently bought the first production Type XI, going on to become one of the chief instructors at the flying schools established by Blériot.
In February 1912 the future of the Type XI was threatened by the French army placing a ban on the use of all monoplanes. This was the result of a series of accidents in which Blériot aircraft had suffered wing failure in flight. The first of these incidents had occurred on 4 January 1910, killing Léon Delagrange, and was generally attributed to the fact that Delagrange had fitted an over-powerful engine, so overstressing the airframe. A similar accident had killed Jorge Chavez at the end of 1910, and in response to this the wing spars of the Blériot had been strengthened. A subsequent accident led to a further strengthening of the spars. Blériot, understandably, took this matter very seriously, and produced a report for the French government which came to the conclusion that the problem was not the strength of the wing spars but a failure to take into account the amount of downward force to which aircraft wings could be subject to, and that the problem could be solved by increasing the strength of the upper bracing wires. This analysis was accepted, and Blériot's prompt and thorough response to the problem enhanced rather than damaged his reputation.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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