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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 www.wp.me/p2ETap-zA). 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013