L.Opdyke French Aeroplanes Before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
Flight, January 2, 1909
AEROPLANE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION.
Ader - A Pioneer.
In the electrical world, the name of M. Ader is one of renown for his valuable work in connection with telephones; in the new realm of flight he has an almost equal claim to respect, for he was an early pioneer who not only diligently laboured to attain the conquest of the air, but actually achieved some measure of success. It is on record that he flew a distance of 50 metres on October 9th, 1890, in the grounds of the Chateau d'Armain villiers, and subsequently, on October 14th, 1897, he flew a distance of 300 metres at Satory before a committee of army officers delegated by the French Government to witness the trial.
The machine was undoubtedly in the air - as shown by the absence of wheel tracks in the wet ground-while it travelled this latter distance, but its direction of flight was, owing to a strong cross-wind, far from the circular course marked out, and this fact, coupled with the damage done to the machine in landing, doubtless led the principal officials to take a gloomy view of its prospects. At any rate, the Government refused to continue its financial assistance to the inventor, and M. Ader had reluctantly to abandon his favourite work.
The histories of many pioneers are sad, especially if they are before their time - and Ader was certainly that. Being a Frenchman, he was born in a sympathetic land, however, but even so, he was very fortunate to get so far as to gain the assistance of the Government at such an early stage in the proceedings. M. Ader himself was an enthusiast on flight from boyhood, and was of course, therefore regarded by many as a mere dreamer. That was in the days before he became sufficiently wealthy as an electrical engineer to put some of his ideas into practice. To modern eyes, his attempts seemed doomed to failure, it is true, but he did his best with the materials at his disposal, and his name unquestionably deserves to go down to history among those of the great. And, although he himself is now perhaps past taking an active interest in modern work, his engineer, M. Espinosa, is actively engaged in the industry.
Ader built three flying machines, and it is the last of these that has been taken from the museum of the Arts et Metiers to grace the first Aeronautical Exhibition; the others no longer exist. His first machine he called " L'Eole," and with that he achieved the flight of 50 metres in 1890; the third machine, on view in the Grand Palais, is the " Avion," with which he demonstrated before the French Government in 1897.
It is a machine of the monoplane type, constructed to resemble a bird in its general shape. Its wings are deeply cambered and arched, and their surface material is stretched over an elaborate framework, presumably intended as a copy of the natural formation of a bird's wing. The wings have a total spread of 16 metres, and present an area of 56 sq. metres ; they extend on either side of the body, and are so mounted that they can be swung forwards or backwards slightly in order to shift the centre of pressure relatively to the centre of gravity when desiring to ascend or descend. Beneath the rear portion of the wings, which extend far back in the centre, is a rudder controlled by pedals.
The mechanism, all of which is carried by the main body, consists of a multi-tubular alcohol-fired boiler and two horizontal compound engines. The boiler was rated at 40-h.p., and, when working at 10 atmospheres (140 lbs. per sq. in.), the steam in the dome was usually about 215 degrees C. The engines are placed in front with their cylinders horizontal and their crankshafts longitudinal. Each is coupled direct to the shaft of a tractor screw. They are compound engines with two high-pressure and two low-pressure cylinders each, the dimensions being 65 and 100 mm. bore by 100 mm. stroke. At the normal boiler pressure they developed 20-h.p. each at a speed of 600 r.p.m.; their weight is 21 kilogs. each.
The propellers are most peculiar, for they resemble nothing so much as eight gigantic quill pens arranged in two sets of four. The blades are, in fact, imitation feathers, and are made of bamboo. Each propeller is three metres in diameter, and has a pitch approximating to three metres (it is impossible to give an exact figure with such a form of construction). Their position is such, too, that they overlap one another considerably, and it appears as if that on the port side must have been working under difficulties.
Quite the most interesting fact about the " Avion " is that its entire weight was only 258 kilogs. This is due to the use of nothing but wood in the construction of the framework, and a system of making the joints and employing hollow struts and beams was thought out by M. Ader for the purpose; it is the same as is now put into practice by the Soc. Cons. d'Appareils Aeriens, of which M. Espinosa (M. Ader's engineer) is a Director.
Flight, July 5, 1913.
The earlier history of aviation in France include the names of Penaud, who may be said to be the inventor of the model aeroplane, for he was the first to employ an elastic motor in 1871. Tatin was one of the first to experiment with power-driven models in 1879, when he used compressed air. Ader, the famous electrical engineer, whose name is identified with telephones, built three steam-driven monoplanes of curious bat-like form, but his success was apparently of the same order as that of Maxim. His machines were constructed almost entirely of hollow spars, and were exceptionally light for their size.