Simanaitis Says

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THE NAME BREGUET is associated with time, but French pioneer aviator Louis Breguet was ahead of his. Here in Part 2, we see him as aviation entrepreneur, visionary, and theoretician.

A Fledgling Airline, 1919. French aviation pioneers Louis Blériot, Louis Breguet, René Caudron, and Louis Renault established Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes in February 1919. This firm and others evolved to become Air France in 1933.

Breguet’s Vision Achieved. As described in Chronicle of Aviation, “French aircraft designer Louis Breguet astonished a scientific congress today [August 5, 1921; Rouen, France] with a visionary speech on the future of air travel. The airplane of tomorrow, Breguet said, will be ‘comfortable, powerful, fast, and reliable.’ He claims airplanes will eventually carry passengers around the world at 750 mph, although no aircraft has yet achieved even 250 mph. Traveling long distances by sea will soon seem ‘as peculiar as traveling by coach and horses.’ ”

Aviation of Yesterday and Tomorrow by Louis Breguet.

In another item, datelined London, December 7, 1921, Chronicle of Aviation cites “a line from a new booklet produced by Breguet of Paris to advertise their Croydon (London)/Paris service: ‘Enjoy the solitary deserts of infinite space!’ ”

The Chronicles of Aviation item continues, “More prosaic is the reassuring guide from the British firm Handley Page: ‘At each window there are curtains, at the end a door with the inscription “Lavatory.” ’ ”

Gyroplane Redux, 1935. In 1935, Breguet’s Gyroplane Laboratoire demonstrated both control and performance.

The Gyroplane Laboratoire.

The Gyroplane Laboratoire established records for craft of its type, essentially an early helicopter. In 1935, it completed a closed-circuit flight of 500-meter (1640-ft.) diameter at a speed of 108 km/h (67 mph). A year later, the craft set an altitude record of 158 meters (517 ft.) and a flight duration of 1 hour 2.8 minutes over a 44-km (27.3-mile) circuit at an average speed of 44.7 km/h ( 27.8 mph).

Louis Breguet in 1952. Image from U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Breguet Range Equation. The Breguet Range Equation is a theoretical description of the distance a particular airplane can travel. It is computed from flight time multiplied by flight speed, this second term expanded into analyses of aerodynamic, propulsion, and structural characteristics.

Though developed in the 1920s, possibly by Émile Dorand, the Breguet Range Equation is still in use and being studied to this day.

Louis Breguet died of a heart attack, age 75, in 1955. In 1980, still some 30 years ahead of quadcopter popularity, he was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020


  1. Bob Storck
    May 28, 2020

    The Breguet Range Equation is still being used to design and calculate aircraft long range performance … both propeller and jets. Burt Rutan used the equation to determine feasibility of a round the world flight, and then to refine the design of the exotic Voyager twin engined push/pull aircraft that brother Dick and Jeanna Yeager flew into the record books.

  2. Cynthia Bowles
    May 28, 2020

    a flying wing!

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