Benoist Aircraft 1911 -1917


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Thomas Wesley Benoist, born in 1874. He was a successful car businessman in St. Louis when he was exposed to the world of aeronautics. In 1908, he and a partner had a aeronautical parts supply company in St Louis. Soon they were marketing complete kits where customers could assemble one of the successful aircraft of the period such as Wright, Curtiss , Farman or Bleriot types.

Benoist first flew in 1908 and in 1911, he established a flying school. For a period, Benoist was one of the leading Manufacturers in the world. In March 1917 the firm was part of initial American Association of Aircraft Manufaturers, 15 firms that placed their combined resources with President Wilson and the American war effort.

Tom Benoist was fatally injured on 14 June 1917, when he struck his head while stepping off a streetcar on a visit to the Roberts factory in Ohio.

Total production by the Benoist Aircraft Company had amounted to slightly more than 100 airplanes.

Benoist (Gill-Curtiss) Biplane (1911)
Tom Benoist's version with pilot and passenger on leading edge of the wing with pusher engine and airscrew behind. Retained Curtiss floating ailerons. Used for exhibition flights and as a trainer.

Benoist Type XII (1912)
A pusher design jointly designed by Benoist with Antony Jannus who acted as test pilot as well. Fitted with a robust undercarriage incorporating steel springs, the skids extended rearwards. Engine was a 75hp Roberts marine engine with six cylinders. On 29 February, 1912, Captain Bert Berry made the first-ever parachute descent from an airplane in flight in St Louis. Also known as the type XII Headless. Flight records at least 15 examples produced during 1912 of all Benoist Type XII variants.

Benoist Type XII Military Plane (1912)
This was an adaption of the pusher Type XII for the safe dropping of parachutists. A tractor engine was fitted and it first flew in March 1912. It appeared to have a very slender fuselage.

Benoist Type XII Type XII Cross Country Plane (1912)
In June 1912 an aircraft based on the Military tractor appeared with a deeper fuselage and sides were added to allow carriage of the pilot and passenger seats and flight controls semi-enclosed. Used in aerial exhibitions. Five of the type were believed to have been completed. Sometimes referred to as the Benoist-Korn XII. See

Benoist Type XII Type XII Floatplane (1912)
Fitting a single broad float to the undercarriage of a Type XII Cross Country Plane, Benoist had a floatplane flying from rivers and lakes in and around the St. Louis area.

Benoist Type XIII Lake Cruiser (1913)
Benoist, with the help of Hugh Robinson, resulted in the Type XIII flying boat. The Type XIII wings, tail, and engine of the Type XII were fitted to a boat-hull type fuselage. The Roberts engine was buried in the hull, driving a pusher propeller . The new Type XIII first flew in December 1912. Benoist made modifications to improve performance, including the installation of hinged trailing-edge ailerons. Also used as a training aircraft.

Benoist Type XIV Airboat (1913)
Built as an improved flying boat for a proposed airline operating in Florida, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line. Contemporary literature also referred to this type as the Model C and was powered by a 75 hp Roberts engine, again located behind the cockpit. The aircraft was biplane with equal-span unstaggered wings with small pontoons at their tips. Two XIV were used and between 1st January and 31st March 1914 1,204 passengers had been carried on twice-daily flights to and from St. Petersburg and Tampa. The pilot and passenger sat side-by-side. The machine had a maximum speed of about 65 mph and had a range of 175 miles. There is a replica suspended in the baggage claim area of the St. Petersburg Clearwater International Airport. See and for photos. The Model A with a 75 hp engine was offered to customers with a 36 ft 0 ins wing span, 360 sq ft wing area and a 650 lb useful load and a 100 hp Model B with a 51 ft 6 ins wing span, 497 sq ft wing area and 800 ld useful load. The Model A also offered an optional engine location between the wings.

Benoist Type XV (1915)
Built as a Trans-Atlantic challenger, the Type XV was a biplane flying boat with a 65 foot span, powered by two 100 hp Roberts pusher engines. It could carry up to six people with an endurance of up to 40 hours. The First World War prevented any attempt at a Trans-Atlantic flight. The type was offered to the British for use as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft, but they selected Curtiss flying boats instead. See also,13328.msg131690.html#msg131690

Benoist Type XVI (1916)
Powered by a 100 hp Roberts engine, this was a single-engine flying boat with pusher propeller mounted between the wing planes (not in the hull as in the XIII). It had a steel tail boom. Several were built for, and delivered to the School of Aeronautics, Staten Island. Type often referred to as the Type 16.

Benoist Type XVII Steel Clad (1916)
A tractor landplane development of the Type XVI for cross-country flights. The fuselage and tail surfaces were made with sheet steel. The radiator was located above the engine between the biplanes wings. The Type 17 was also powered by the 100 hp Roberts engine. Type often refered to as the Type 17 and had a tricycle. undercarriage.

Benoist 12 Passenger Aerial Ferry Project (1917)
A large flying boat project to be ussed for passenger services between Sandusky (where Benoist had opened a factory) and Put-in-Bay, both in Ohio. Two 350 hp Roberts 12-cylinder engine would have enabled the aircraft to carry up to twelve passengers. A further project to carry 25 passengers using the same engines was also envisged by the Benoist Aeroplane Co

Benoist 15 Passenger Aerial Ferry Project (1917)
A further project to carry 25 passengers using the 350 hp Roberts engines was also envisged by the Benoist Aeroplane Co, according to a May 1917 issue of Flight. It would have been the largest flying boat built to date. The engines were to be located in the bow of the boat.

Reilly, Thomas, "Benoist - The Forgotten Man," American Aviation Historical Society Journal, 43, 4, Winter 1998, pp. 279-281
Roos, Frederick W. "The Brief, Bright Aviation Career of St. Louis's Tom Benoist" 43d AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting Reno, Nevada January 10 - 13, 2005
WWI Aero Issue 191 February 2006
Flight Magazine 20 August 1915
Flight Magazine 13 April 1916
Flight Magazine 11 March 1917
Flight Magazine 24 May 1917


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May 26, 2006
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Very great work my dear Cy-27,

and also the page on Aerofiles site is amazing;

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