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Monday, October 18, 2010

Park Flyers


Alberto Santos-Dumont was the son of a wealthy Brazilian who experimented with aviation in Paris in the early 1900s during the dawn of aviation. His early achievements were in the field of lighter-than-air machines. After the Wright brothers' flights in 1903, Santos-Dumont began to experiment with heavier-than-air machines. He constructed a vertical-propeller model, and, in 1906, built a machine, the 14-bis, on the principle of the box kite. In October 1906, he won the Deutsch-Archdeacon Price for the first officially observed heavier-than-air powered flight in Europe, flying his canvas and bamboo biplane. In November 1906, he flew 725 feet (220 meters) in 21 seconds. In 1909, he produced his "Demoiselle" or "Grasshopper" monoplane, the precursor to the modern ultralight plane. I first viewed the Demoiselle in the 1960's, when it appeared a movie entitled “Those Wonderful Men and Their Flying Machines” An entertaining comedy that featured magnificent flying scenes for the aviation buff. The movie was roughly based on an air race in the early 1900's of which there were many in those days. The Demoiselle was one of the many pioneer replica airplanes that were built and flown in that movie. An interesting aside with this replica is the fact that it would not fly when tested and the experts were baffled until some research revealed that Dumont himself was a very small man, weighing less than 90 pounds. The problem was solved when a petite woman pilot was selected to fly the Demoiselle in the movie. This video clip features an Ikarus Demoiselle ParkFl yer flying equipped with a miniature 6 channel radio and powered by a brush-less out runner electric motor.

Park Flying the Demoiselle on a windy October day in restricted space.

Rare film footage of the original aircraft in flight

Fun Park Flyers

Flying on a windy October afternoon

Bleriot IX

Louis Blériot inventor of the conventional popular airplane configuration, tractor engine up front with a forward main mono-wing and the balancing empennage  at the rear. The Blériot XI sported a single pair of wings which would serve as the new model from which most future planes were derived.

was born in Cambrai, France on July 1, 1872, and studied engineering in Paris. He was an inventor, an aircraft designer, and a pilot. He is best known for his flight over the English Channel on July 25, 1909, the world's first flight over a large body of water in a heavier-than-air craft.

A prize being offered by the London Daily Mail for the first successful flight across the English Channel interested Blériot and encouraged him to develop his fourth monoplane and first truly successful aircraft, the Blériot XI. After setting a European endurance record of 36 minutes 55 seconds and winning a cross-country prize, Blériot felt confident about embarking on his cross-Channel trip. He made the trip in 37 minutes, delighting the French and worrying the British, who felt that they had suddenly become vulnerable to air attack.

The Ikerus Parkflyer is reminiscent of a earlier Bleriot design with a strange pod arrangement slung under the wing, but after a very strange accident where I managed to run over it with my wheel of my trailer. I straightened it out and added a few sticks to transform it into something roughly resembling  the famous XI aircraft.
Credits - Library of Congress

Watch the Park Flyer by clicking the object.