Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


EARLIEST AIRCRAFT were on a quest for control, especially laterally, from side to side, in roll. Wing warping was one choice; ailerons were another. Major court cases ensued (for the Wright versus Curtiss melee, see Others tested novel variations of each theme, with the 1909 Goupy II being a fascinating example. The Blériot Type XI and Curtiss Reims Racer of the same era put the Goupy in perspective.


The 1909 Blériot Type XI exhibited both wing warping and a novel elevator design. This and other images here from my Microsoft Flight Simulator collection.

Louis Blériot was both a traditionalist and innovator. His English-Channel-conquering Type XI was a tractor design (i.e., having a front-mounted propeller) that used wing warping for its lateral control. The open cockpit’s “cloche” (in lieu of a joystick) actuated this warping through a collection of wires above and below the fuselage. Notice as well the Type XI’s split horizontal stabilizer, the outer portions of which were elevators controlling pitch.


The 1909 Curtiss Reims Racer had a traditional pusher layout, but with innovative ailerons.

Glenn Curtiss, as part of Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association, stayed with the pusher layout, but abjured wing warping in favor of ailerons—separately pivoting wing elements providing lateral control. Unlike others to follow, Curtiss’s stood away from the wings themselves.

The first aeroplane of Frenchmen Ambroise Goupy and Mario Calderara was a Voisin-influenced box-kite design, nothing particularly noteworthy. But their Goupy II, built at Blériot’s workshops in 1909, was full of innovation; some would say downright oddity.

The 1909

The 1909 Goupy II was particularly innovative, in ways other than its aileron wingtips.

The Goupy II shared the Bléroit Type XI’s tractor layout, open-frame fuselage and castoring landing gear. It was, however, the world’s first biplane of tractor propulsion, with staggered wings as well.


The Goupy II competed in the 1911 Paris-to-Madrid air race.

Most noteworthy were the Goupy’s whole-chord ailerons and elevators, each fully integrated into the tips of these airfoils.

Also of interest was its powerplant, a seven-cylinder R.E.P of “semi-radial” or “open-fan” configuration.


The Goupy’s R.E.P. engine had four cylinders aligned ahead of its remaining three.

Designed by Robert Esnault-Pelterie, this engine was a two-banked radial, with four cylinder aligned fan-like in front and the other three filling in the gaps behind them. Yokes and rods connected the pistons to a two-throw crank.


The seven-cylinder R.E.P. engine. Image from World Encyclopedia of Civil Aircraft, by Enzo Angelucci, Crown Publishers, 1982.

The R.E.P. was air-cooled and produced perhaps 25-30 hp. Esnault-Pelterie built aircraft as well. In fact, one of his Type N monoplanes, serving an observation role, is credited with downing an enemy aircraft on March 2, 1915. The Type N’s observer carried a rifle, took potshots at a German Aviatik, which promptly caught fire.


Robert Esnault-Pelterie, 1881-1957, French aircraft and engine builder, also got involved in early musings of space travel. He evidently knew a really talented portrait photographer as well.

Esnault-Pelterie invented the joystick as a single integrated flight control. After World War I, he defended his patent on the idea; eventually, royalties from the joystick made him wealthy.

An interest in rocketry led Esnault-Pelterie to organize a symposium in 1927 for the French Astronautics Society: The Exploration by Rocketry of Extreme Altitude and the Possibility of Interplanetary Voyages. He’s also credited with the idea of vectored thrust for rocket control—quite a contrast from Esnault-Pelertie’s earliest work with his seven-cylinder R.E.P. open-fan radial. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013  


  1. Alejandro Irausquin
    May 3, 2014

    Dennis! Great article. I came across some months ago to a website explaning the cockpit flight controls of early aircraft. Do you know th website? I can’t just find it!!

    • simanaitissays
      May 3, 2014

      Hello, Alejandro,
      Many thanks for your kind comments.
      I have several books on the topic of early flight controls, but I cannot cite any websites on the matter. Is Google of any help?

  2. Christoph Rufle
    October 24, 2020

    Very interesting!
    Do you know any plans/scetches of this airplane?

    • simanaitissays
      October 25, 2020

      My GMax Goupy is based on a 2-view (top/side) illustration in Kenneth Munson’s The Pocket Encyclopedia of World Aircraft in Color, Pioneer Aircraft 1903-14, McMillan Co, 1969. Google Images yields pics, but no 2- or 3-views.

  3. Paul
    November 4, 2020

    Hi Dennis. Although you’ve made and uploaded a stack of great aircraft to, I can only see your FS98 version of the Goupy. Have you uploaded your FS9 version to a secret site? 😉

    • simanaitissays
      November 4, 2020

      Hi, Paul,
      The Goupy II at flightsim looks like my most recent one. In any case, send your email address to me ( and I’ll send you the Goupy II now on my computer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: