L.Opdyke French Aeroplanes Before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
Born on 18 May 1850, Alphonse Penaud meant to be a naval officer, but was soon crippled by a hip disease, and used crutches all his life. He determined to research the work done on aerial navigation and aviation itself, and in 1870 developed a model helicopter with shaped flexible blades using a rubber band for power - the first rubber-powered model aeroplane ever. The following year he built his Planophore, a little pusher stick model, rubber-powered, with wing and stabilizer - no rudder. And on 17 February 1876 Penaud took out a patent for a fullscale powered machine. Unfortunately it was never built; he and his mechanic Paolo Gauchot had conceived a twin tractor propeller monoplane with retractable undercarriage. The 4-bladed all-metal propellers turned in opposite directions, and allowed for ground-adjustable pitch changes. The hull was to be able to float and the machine to be amphibious. The elliptical wingtips curved upward for lateral stability. Penaud realized that at the moment there was no suitable engine, but he expressed faith that science would produce one sooner or later. He gave Henri Giffard, the dirigible pioneer, all his research work, not having been successful in finding a substantial backer; and deeply depressed and ill, he shot himself in 1880, aged 30.
In 1899 Wilbur Wright wrote the Smithsonian Institution: "I have been interested in the problem of mechanical and human flight ever since as a boy I constructed a number of bats of various sizes after the styles of Cayley's and Penaud's machines. My observations since then have only convinced me more firmly that human flight is possible and practicable."