• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Clément Ader’s Avion III

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
Following from an analysis I have written on this aircraft, I though I might share some information and images I took whilst visiting Paris last year. The following text accompanying the images comes from an article I wrote on the subject.

Completed in 1897, today the Avion III hangs from the ceiling of a grand staircase in the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, re-covered and refurbished and as captivating as it was on its first unveiling. Configured to look like an organic creature, this was deliberate as Ader had seen birds-of-prey circling high in the desert skies of North Africa and had derived ideas of fight from watching them. Allegedly modelled on a fruit bat, in descriptions of the Avion III’s working mechanisms Ader uses biological terms; fingers, arms, elbows, shoulders - as the lexicon of the aeronautical engineer had yet to be invented. Comprising a central rhomboidal cage in elevation and resembling two isosceles triangles butted together at their shortest edge, the rearmost tapering to a sharper point than the foremost, in planform, the Avion IIIs fuselage abruptly widened to a horizontal double pronged structure resembling the horns of a giant minotaur from above. Constructed of split laminated bamboo, the primary construction medium of the entire aircraft, the structure was enclosed in permeable silk, with an opening to the rear of the tapered rear section for the occupant.

Avion III fuselage

A flat pan seat was provided and was open to the elements, the occupant’s feet mounted in stirrups outside the fuselage at the lower forward edge of the enclosure. These actuated the machine’s only moveable control surface, a large fabric vertical rudder. Mounted midway up a vertical framework ahead of the seat were two wheels that actuated an alteration of the wing camber in flight via cables. The only form of instrumentation was a prominent pressure gauge mounted ahead of the occupant.

Avion III cockpit

Its undercarriage comprised three wheels of standard wire braced construction with rubber tyres arranged in a reverse tricycle layout, the front wheels mounted at the widest point of the fuselage ahead of the engine bay, with the rearmost wheel mounted directly forward of the rudder. This was configured to actuate with the rudder’s deflection. Designed to be independently castoring, the wheels could be locked into running straight.

Avion III fuselage rear view

Its novel lightweight steam engine, two separate devices coupled together to drive a propeller each sat ahead of the occupant enclosure, with a boxy heat exchanger protruding above the upper fuselage into the airflow. Each engine comprised two cylinders, high and low pressure and were mounted in tandem as a single unit. Each bank of two pistons extended at right angles upwards and outwards from the firebox assembly and actuated connecting rods, to which were coupled the propeller shafts.

Avion III engine left side

The motor was configured to produce 15 kg or 16 atmospheres of pressure, rotating at a maximum speed of 480 rpm. Bore and stroke was 120mm and 76mm respectively. Weighing a combined total of 117kg, the engine was a masterpiece of weight conservation; its two-cylinder banks weighed a total of 42kg, the firebox and boiler weighed 60kg and the condenser 15kg. With a total of 40hp being produced, this equates to a power to weight ratio of little less than 3kg per hp. Its operator claims the Avion III had a maximum theoretical endurance of four hours, but this is questionable to say the least.

Avion III engine arms

Its twin four bladed propellers rotated on drive shafts mounted within the horns at the upper extremity of the forward fuselage. With a diameter of 2.82m, their pitch was 2m. These were staggered slightly, with the left-hand propeller rotating to the rear of the right hand one. These were made of laminated bamboo, with ribs constructed of canvas paper reinforced with strips of bamboo tapering toward the tips and resembling feathers in profile and curvature. When rotating at speed, the blades flexed outwards, increasing the propeller disc diameter.

Avion III propellers

With a total span of 17m, the Avion III’s wing structure followed the layout of that of the fruit bat it emulated, comprising a single spar of hollow laminated bamboo, with what Ader describes as fingers radiating away from a shoulder pivot point approximately midway along the span of each wing. Incorporating an intricately designed hinge, at this point the wing could be articulated to enable it to fold alongside the fuselage for ease of transport and storage. Cables running from control wheels in the occupant’s enclosure to the laterally extending fingers tautened these, enabling the increase of the wing’s top surface curvature. The entire wing surface was covered in permeable silk, which was held in place by tiny fasteners located across the structure at 30 to 50mm intervals. Each silk wing panel weighed 3.5 kg.

Avion III wing

In conclusion, the Avion III’s system of control was certainly novel and might have enabled some means of control when the wheels were operated differentially, which would have enabled a wing to rise and the opposing one to descend to induce a turn. How effective this might have been depended on the aircraft’s forward speed, which is difficult to predict, given the low power output of its steam engine. The large hinged rudder would have enabled a yawing motion, but the lack of an elevator meant that the only means of ascending and descending was variation of the engine power output, thus affecting the propeller rpm. This all would have made the Avion III a very trying juggling act in flight. In examination of the engine data provided, given that the engine weighed slightly less than its total power-to-weight ratio, the Avion III was terribly underpowered.

Avion III rear view

It appears that in conceptualising the Avion III, Ader could not see the wood through the trees – he focussed on complex details that appear baffling in hindsight, but appeared logical to him, yet did nothing to assist in the making of a successful flying machine. In designing his aircraft, Ader carried out little research into airflow, believing that emulation of birds in flight would suffice in building a man carrying flying machine, disregarding the effects of scale on his aircraft. In closing, there is one aspect of Ader’s remarkable creation that lingers to this day; it is the machine that gave the French language its word for aircraft: Avion.

Avion III

Information for this article comes largely from Lissarigue’s report titled Ader, Inventeur d’Avions published privately in 1990, sections of which are publicly available through Icare, Revue del’Aviation Française No.134; Le Dossier Ader, written in part by Lissarigue and his fellow colleagues of the Musée de l’Air and published the same year.

Images here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147661871@N04/albums/72157714763230952/with/50018384551/
 

Attachments

  • Avion III cockpit.jpg
    Avion III cockpit.jpg
    346.4 KB · Views: 19
  • Avion III engine arms.jpg
    Avion III engine arms.jpg
    305.7 KB · Views: 18
  • Avion III engine left side.jpg
    Avion III engine left side.jpg
    406.2 KB · Views: 12
  • Avion III fuselage.jpg
    Avion III fuselage.jpg
    400.9 KB · Views: 10
  • Avion III propellers.jpg
    Avion III propellers.jpg
    333.7 KB · Views: 9
  • Avion III rear view.jpg
    Avion III rear view.jpg
    324.1 KB · Views: 7
  • Avion III wing.jpg
    Avion III wing.jpg
    360.4 KB · Views: 9
  • Avion III.jpg
    Avion III.jpg
    346.7 KB · Views: 22

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
Bearing in mind the controversy that surrounds Clement Ader's claims to flying the Avion III in 1897, it is worth mentioning that the object of this post is to provide information on the aircraft itself, which is a thing of beauty, rather than to stir up a hornet's nest. My opinion based on the information that I have sought, including that of Pierre Lissarigue, the curator of the Musée de l’Air who studied the aircraft at length, is that it could not have achieved what Ader claims for the simple fact that it was a) far too underpowered and b) most significantly, that its propellers would have disintegrated at sustained rpm as they did under trials that Lissarigue carried out in preparation of the aircraft's restoration, something that Ader would not have been able to foresee. Further evidence of this can be found in General Joseph Henri Mensier's report dated 21 October 1897, of Ader's experiments at Sartory on 14 October 1897, within which he stated the aircraft did not leave the ground and when it slewed to a stop after leaving its circular track, it's propellers had disintegrated.

It is worth clarifying that during the aircraft's restoration, Lissarigue built a replica of the Avion IIIs wing surface with the purpose of investigating how it would have behaved under flight load, for restoration purposes. This is often misconstrued as being proof that Ader flew the machine, but that was not why Lissarigue built the wing in the first place. This information can be found in the source mentioned in the post above.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
4,455
Reaction score
1,960
Don't you mean Lissarrague, and this man ? https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Lissarrague

As a Frenchman I don't care whether or not Ader flew in 1897. The truth is elsewhere... there is CONTROLLED FLIGHT, and there is LIFTOFF.

And that's a very important distinction, to keep in mind.

Some people might have achieved LIFTOFF before the Wrights and on longer distances than their 17-12-1903 flight.

From the top of my head
- Ader in 1890 and 1897
- a Chanute alumni in 1897
- Whitehead / Weisskopff in 1901 or 1903 (still doubtful)
- Karl Jatho just before the Wrights (1903)

Yet LIFTOFF in not CONTROLLED FLIGHT. And the Wright brothers, were, without any doubt, the first to achieve regular controlled flight, in 1905.
The French picked the slack from late 1906 but only early 1909 where they able to do much better than what the Wrights had achieved right from 1905. When the Wrights showed at Le Mans in July 1908, they were still well ahead of the pack.

The Wright brothers key to success was they self-funded their project through their bicycle business. They didn't needed a sugar daddy or the military to fund them. and that's paramount, because it allowed them to quietly fail as long as was needed until theiy got a workable machine. All the others ran out of money, or out of "suggar daddy" support, or out of "military" support.

The Wright brothers
- self-funded
- persisted for many years
- achieved controlled flight on top of liftoff.

That was their three big breakthroughs and successes, really.
 
Last edited:

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
Yet LIFTOFF in not CONTROLLED FLIGHT. And the Wright brothers, were, without any doubt, the first to achieve controlled flight, in 1905.

Correction, 1903, but yes, Ader got the Eole off the ground in 1890, a distance covered of 50 metres at a height above the ground of 8 inches could be described as lift off. As for the Avion III, no, it didn't even lift off, not according to Mensier's report, which claimed it remained firmly earthbound - and he was there witnessing not only the Avion III's trials, but those of the Eole as well.

The Wright brothers
- self-funded
- persisted for many years
- achieved controlled flight on top of liftoff.

I would also argue their persistence in designing and testing via gliders a workable means of control before they had built their first powered flying machine as perhaps their biggest breakthrough before powered flight, having, by the end of 1903 spent more time in the air in gliders than Otto Lillienthal and Percy Pilcher combined. Then what they did next is vitally important. Following from their flights on 17 December 1903, they built two more aircraft, the 1904 and 1905 Flyers, the last of which was sufficiently powerful enough to carry more than one occupant. Between the end of 1903 and the end of 1905, the Wrights had flown 109 flying hours in three powered aircraft, and this was almost a full year before Alberto Santos-Dumont's first powered flight of his 14bis on 13 September 1906, regarded as the first successful powered flight in Europe.
 

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
As am addition to this subject, being French or American has little to do with progress in aviation, because there were lots of people messing about with aircraft at the time that eventually someone would have done it. Pierre Lissarigue, in his assessment of the Avion III concludes that in the end of the 19th century it was impossible for one individual to strike the exact formula for successful flight, but that Ader got the closest before stumbling. That French aviators and constructors led the world into the first couple of years of the Great War is a given; French aviators snatched a credible lead in aircraft innovation and design, but Britain was not far behind, again thanks to the Wrights, however - Britain has established the first production line of a licenced built aeroplane, a Wright aircraft in 1909 - built by the Short Brothers on the Isle of Sheppey. It is ironic that during the Great War, having established a lead to begin with in the Wrights, the United States largely relied on French and British designs for its military needs, with only a handful of US designs in military service.

What is worth acknowledging however is the impact the Wright aircraft had on French designs to begin with however; Archdeacon, REP and others built carbon copies of Wright gliders after Octave Chanute had an article about the Wright's gliders published in France. Then there was their flights at le Mans, during which Louis Bleriot adopted wing warping for his aircraft, including the famous XI, in which he crossed the Channel in 1909, reportedly claiming "to hell with the aileron!" after witnessing Orville Wright in flight.

Images are the Short Brothers memorial on the Isle of Sheppey with the field in which their aerodrome with its factory shed in the background to the right. The famous XI in which Louis Bleriot flew across the Channel in 1909 at the same museum as Ader's Avion III. Where the Bleriot XI landed in Dover.
 

Attachments

  • 2107 Isle of Sheppey Short Brothers Memorial.JPG
    2107 Isle of Sheppey Short Brothers Memorial.JPG
    317.7 KB · Views: 26
  • Europe 213.jpg
    Europe 213.jpg
    405.5 KB · Views: 28
  • 2307 Dover Bleriot Memorial.JPG
    2307 Dover Bleriot Memorial.JPG
    351.4 KB · Views: 37
Last edited:

dan_inbox

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2006
Messages
826
Reaction score
330
Thanks for the interesting photos and technical description of the Avion III Aquilon.
Was there any specific provision for the pilot to see ahead? or is the silk transparent enough to see through?

Are there any plans available for the unfinished Avion II Zéphyr of 1993 ? I am aware of a scratchbuilt model but not sure about its accuracy.
 

dan_inbox

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2006
Messages
826
Reaction score
330
yes, Ader got the Eole off the ground in 1890, a distance covered of 50 metres at a height above the ground of 8 inches could be described as lift off. As for the Avion III, no, it didn't even lift off
Yes exactly. And in terms of relative merits and bragging rights for who-was-first, it is worth noting that the Avion I Éole took off from a flat surface, not by sliding down a sloped terrain like Lilienthal and the Wrights.

For bragging rights, in France there is a view that in 1990 Ader achieved heavier-than-air flight, however small and primitive. And in that view, what the Wrights achieved is an improvement, not a first. Of course in the USA the dominant story is that of "controlled heavier-than-air", which Ader had not reached.

Once the achievement of each are understood, it is really unimportant which one a particular person or country will select to vaunt. Very human, but unimportant.
 
Last edited:

Retrofit

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
588
Reaction score
94
Thanks for the interesting photos and technical description of the Avion III Aquilon.
Was there any specific provision for the pilot to see ahead? or is the silk transparent enough to see through?

Are there any plans available for the unfinished Avion II Zéphyr of 1993 ? I am aware of a scratchbuilt model but not sure about its accuracy.
Dan_inbox,
No specific provision for the pilot to see ahead, Ader had to lean his body out of his aircraft to look forward.
For the "Zephir" plans, only a top drawing of the project is presented in the book "Créateur d'avions" but Lissarague in the text details step by step all the differences between the project and the unfinished Avion II, then its transformation into Avion n°3 "Aquilon" by the installation of the improved steam engine driving the two contra-rotative propellers.
 

Attachments

  • Ader Avion n°2.JPG
    Ader Avion n°2.JPG
    194.3 KB · Views: 40

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
And in that view, what the Wrights achieved is an improvement, not a first.

Let's put when Ader did lift off into context. The Eole got off the ground for around 50 metres and got to a maximum altitude of 8 inches. Even by that time that wasn't much and to describe it as anything more than a mere hop is just not going to work. You could successfully argue that what he achieved was done through sheer momentum rather than actual flight. And if he did get into the the air, what could he actually do? The means of controlling his aircraft was inadequate for sustained flight and his engine was barely able to get it up there.

What the Wrights achieved needs to be taken into context, and when that is done it most certainly is a first. Just getting off the ground isn't enough. What you can do with your machine once you are off the ground and then what happens once you have made your first successful landing makes all the difference. You don't go down to the airport, run along the runway then come to a stop and get off and catch a bus. You fly to your destination. The point of what the Wrights were doing wasn't just to get off the ground, it was to build a successful working aircraft. Yes, Ader was too, but he failed to 'fly' both the Eole and the Avion III, unlike the Wrights and their Flyers.

Like I said in the previous thread, they had worked on building and flying gliders, then developing a successful means of control for nearly three years before building their first powered flying machine. And, as I mentioned, they had spent more time in the air in gliders than Otto Lillienthal and Percy Pilcher, the two foremost glider pilots up to that time combined, between 1899 and the end of 1903.

Then, once they had flown their first powered flying machine, they built another, and then another, which was capable of carrying a load greater than that of its pilot alone. As for the claim they took off from a hill; rubbish. I've been to Kittyhawk where they made their flights from. They took off from a dune, it wasn't a hill, and the aircraft was able to rise from the ground under its own power, not only that, they could control it about all three axes of movement, something which no other aviation pioneer was able to do up to that time - that's the difference.

(I'm quietly waiting for someone to mention the assisted take-off device, the catapult they used. Surprised no one's done so).
 
Last edited:

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
Dan_inbox, have you ever learned to fly? I have, it's great. Of all that stuff you learn then put into practise as a student pilot, the very first lesson is Effect of Controls. You know where that comes from? The Wright Brothers - not Ader, not Whitehead, not Mosshaiski, not Watson, Pearse nor any other so-called claimant to powered-flight-before-the Wrights. They were the first to figure out that a pilot needs to control an aircraft about all three axes of movement, which are, pitch, roll and yaw about the lateral, longitudinal and vertical axes respectively. Put that with an airframe and engine combination that is capable of lifting itself off the ground successfully and you have a successful aircraft. Their influence on aviation is profound and ever lasting. From the Wright Flyer to the F-35, these aircraft all follow the same stuff the Wrights did first. Can you say the same about Ader? No, you can't. The only influence he had was the use of the name Avion as the French language word for aeroplane.
 
Last edited:

dan_inbox

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2006
Messages
826
Reaction score
330
have you ever learned to fly? (...) the very first lesson is Effect of Controls.
Yes I have. And this has nothing to do with the question at hand. Nobody questions that Ader did not achieve "controlled" flight.

Is "off the ground for around 50 metres and to a maximum altitude of 8 inches" achieving heavier-than-air flight, yes or not? If it is, then what everyone else did is "improvement" over this "first". That is a view that is common in France. I am not asking anyone else to adopt it, just to understand where they come from.

In the same vein, Ader's avions were not completely without controls: there was a vertical rudder and there was wing warping. In the 1900 and 1910s, wing-warping was used as a control system. Later ailerons proved to be superior (improvement again). For he who looks at the half-full part of the glass, a system to control flight was there. Now, was the Avion I's system satisfactory? Nobody will know because it did not fly high or long enough, and anyway it was probably not. The first prototype of anything seldom is.
Point is: even about controlling flight, it could be claimed that the Wrights "improved" on an earlier "invention".
(Note that I don't claim it, no. Things are already far too emotional as it is, and I don't want to risk a transatlantic nuclear war :cool: )

Again, my point here is not to say "it is like this". It is only to say "over there they have another view, not completely groundless".

As said, it is really unimportant which one a particular person or country will select as their hero. What counts is to understand both achievements. Which we have. About who deserves most credit and for what specifically, we don't need to agree.


PS: Thanks a lot for the photo of Ader in the Avion III. It is quite a rare and historic document. Much appreciated.
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
1,776
Reaction score
674
Not if you are talking about controlled flight.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
2,675
Reaction score
1,203
IMOHO (and you can read Karman books on the subjects beside the excellent introduction offered to us above) the fundamental difference b/w Ader and the Wrights Brothers is in rigorous experimental research:
- the Wrights based their efforts on scientific approach of fluid flows phenomenon with, notably, wind tunnel testing
- Ader results were devoid of scientifical rigor and the fluid flow research work done by Eiffel was completely wrong, even in their theorized assumptions.

Last but not least, Ader Vs Wrights opposes Gov based incentives vs a fully entrepreneurial approach.

I think both parallel bring some importance. Even today.

When France private endeavor took off unrestricted at a blazing speed (Bleriot) it unveiled the ressources that were tempered just years before (Penault, Bechereau...).

A lesson still to be learnt.
 
Last edited:

dan_inbox

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2006
Messages
826
Reaction score
330
the fundamental difference b/w Ader and the Wrights Brothers is in rigorous experimental research:
- the Wrights based their efforts on scientific approach of fluid flows phenomenon with, notably, wind tunnel testing
- Ader results were devoid of scientifical rigor and the fluid flow research work done by Eiffel was completely wrong, even in their theorized assumptions.
True, but just irrelevant if he did achieve heavier-than-air flight. Someone makes a first, then others with the benefit of 10 years hindsight and tech progress do better. Sure.

Last but not least, Ader Vs Wrights opposes Gov based incentives vs a fully entrepreneurial approach.
I think both parallel bring some importance. Even today.
When France private endeavor took off unrestricted at a blazing speed (Bleriot) it unveiled the ressources that were tempered just years before (Penault, Bechereau...).
All this may be true, even if more political than on-topic for spf.
To some, the bigger difference between 1890 and the 1900 is the availability of light and powerful engines instead of steam boilers. So the bigger contribution to early aviation might be from the likes of Karl Benz. (It's my line of thought: progress isn't aerodynamics or structurals or engines alone, it is the sum of all)

I won't follow those who want to decide who deserves the sole credit. IMO nobody deserves it all. A lot of people deserve some. The point is to realize who brought what.
Sure, anyone can claim that their hero has the biggest and longest deserves more credit. But it's unimportant and we don't need to agree on that.
 

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
Is "off the ground for around 50 metres and to a maximum altitude of 8 inches" achieving heavier-than-air flight, yes or not?

No, it can't. Like I said, the Eole got off the ground, but it, like the Avion III were terribly underpowered. Yes there was likely lift produced by its wing surfaces, but its momentum was far too slow to be able to effectively carry the aircraft into the air. 8 inches off the ground is not 'flight'. You are travelling in ground effect, essentially, and since you've learnned to fly you'd know this. While trying to land an aeroplane you would have noticed that it wants to float down the runway until you effectively stall it onto the ground.

In the same vein, Ader's avions were not completely without controls: there was a vertical rudder and there was wing warping.

I never said Ader's aircraft were completely without controls. Also, to argue it had wing warping is a bit of a stretch. the effect of turning the wheels in its cockpit was to alter the camber of the upper surface, rather than differentially alter the angle of attack at the tips as wing warping does. Again however, how effective this was in controlling an aircraft in flight was not proven. The other thing was that neither of Ader's aircraft had an elevator, which meant that the pilot had no real control over ascent and descent apart from varying the propeller rpm, but we know what would have happened if this was carried out for even a short while - the propellers would have disintegrated.

I won't follow those who want to decide who deserves the sole credit.

That's up to you, but not even the Wrights deserve sole credit. They themselves researched Lillienthal's lift and drag tables to determine effective camber of their wing surfaces. To add to that, when they wrote to the Smithsonian requesting reference material on flight in 1899, they would have read about George Cayley, Percy Pilcher, not to mention Bernoulli's venturi effect being at play, but as for Ader? They might have read about his attempts, but his work was inconsequential and there's no record of them referencing him in their research, but he was far from out of their orbit during their aviating.

In a bizarre turn, Octave Chanute, who built and flew gliders at the same time as the Wrights at Kittyhawk actually made contact with Ader and while they were preparing the Flyer for its first powered flight in late 1903, Chanute told them he was looking to buy the Avion III from a museum in France and he wanted the Wrights to restore it and fly it. The Wrights revealed their incredulity at the suggestion in a letter to their father, Milton, believing Chanute's suggestion to be a little crazy!

Let's not forget that Ader only made his false claims of flight in 1906 after Alberto Santos-Dumont's first flights in Europe, not before. The report that Mensier wrote was lodged away in the French military, and the Avion III was nothing more than a museum exhibit dragged out during automobile displays. Ader did nothing in aviation after the Avion III, until 1906 - this is what the modern Ader supporters get wrong when they talk about beating the Wrights. Ader's beef was not with the Wrights, but Santos-Dumont!

Again however, the Wrights must be elevated to prominence because they brought everything together. All that stuff that the pioneers had messed about with; controlling an aircraft in flight, a successful power-to-weight ratio - all led to them building the first successful aircraft. It was no accident that they got to where they did. For those beforehand, including Ader, it was, simply because they left out pieces of the puzzle.
 
Last edited:

Retrofit

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
588
Reaction score
94
Err, didn't Æthelmær of Malmesbury beat both the Wrights and Ader by about 800 years? ;)
LOL avion acien
Himself beaten by Abbas Ibn Firnas in Spain by about 100 years!
And what about the chineese man-carrying kites reported by Marco Polo.
But let us not forgot that probably the first aerodynamically-sustained man-made flying apparatus was used on a daily basis some 9.000 years ago...
But we are probably out of this thread's subject which has turned to be "Wrights vs ?".
 
Last edited:

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
But let us not forgot that probably the first aerodynamically-sustained man-made flying apparatus was used on a daily basis some 9.000 years ago...

So, the Wrights weren't the first to fly??? :D

But we are probably out of this thread's subject which has turned to be "Wrights vs ?".

Guilty, I'm afraid. To be fair, I did start the thread and prolong the Wright stuff. The odd thing is that the reason for Clement Ader making his claims of flight had nothing to do with the Wrights at all, but Alberto Santos-Dumont, or specifically an article written by the head of the Aero Club of France, Ernest Archdeacon after Santos-Dumont's flights in the 14bis.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
4,455
Reaction score
1,960
From my readings of Ader, he was somewhat distraught by his 1897 partial failure and the military withdrawing support. Another (controversial) french pioneer, the mercurial Gabriel Voisin, tried to lift his spirit in the 1900's and felt the man was spent. Tired and desilusional. So I'm not surprised by his 1906 move against Santos Dumont. Who was really the first in Europe (and France, and perhaps the first except for the Wrights) to fly, late 1906.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
4,455
Reaction score
1,960
In a bizarre turn, Octave Chanute, who built and flew gliders at the same time as the Wrights at Kittyhawk actually made contact with Ader and while they were preparing the Flyer for its first powered flight in late 1903, Chanute told them he was looking to buy the Avion III from a museum in France and he wanted the Wrights to restore it and fly it. The Wrights revealed their incredulity at the suggestion in a letter to their father, Milton, believing Chanute's suggestion to be a little crazy!

Never heard about this before. But it makes some sense. Nothing bizarre, actually... Chanute saw his role as centralizing whatever data he could get from flight atempts all over the world and across time. Creating a "flight database" and graciously pass it to whatever serious pioneer willing to try flying. Chanute role there was extremely useful, and crucial.
He tried to improve the odds by truly building a "technical library". Basically playing the role of today's NASA (NTRS included) vis a vis spaceflight.

(check Chanute biography at Wikipedia. WTF, he was born in FRANCE. How about that... o_O never realized !)

 

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
Nothing bizarre, actually... Chanute saw his role as centralizing whatever data he could get from flight atempts all over the world and across time.

To me it seems bizarre that Chanute would entertain the idea the Wrights might be interested, presuming they knew about its failure to fly. It would be interesting to find out correspondence between Chanute and Ader to read what Ader's thoughts were on him offering the Avion III to the Wrights.
 

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
the mercurial Gabriel Voisin

Mercurial indeed. I look at Voisin and the likes of REP, Bleriot, Henri Farman, Gaston Caudron and so many more contributing a lot to progress in aviation in the first decade of the 20th Century. After Santos-Dumont's flight, aviation really began to go places in France and once Wilbur flew at Le Mans, French aviation technology led the world. Gone was the 'Total Stability Type' and its awkward side-slipping turns owing to a lack of roll control as was common in many designs prior to 1908, 1909.

The Breguet and REP types at the same museum as the Avion III.
 

Attachments

  • Europe 211.jpg
    Europe 211.jpg
    373 KB · Views: 28
  • Europe 212.jpg
    Europe 212.jpg
    327.9 KB · Views: 27

Archibald

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
4,455
Reaction score
1,960
To Ader credit, his steam powered engines had remarquable power to weight ratio for the time (and for engines of this class, a notable feat since neither steam locomotive or steamers really cared about that parameter).

Of course the airframe negated part of that advantage, plus steam engines were at the end of their rope. Aviation future belonged to IC engines borrowed from cars.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
4,455
Reaction score
1,960
Nothing bizarre, actually... Chanute saw his role as centralizing whatever data he could get from flight atempts all over the world and across time.

To me it seems bizarre that Chanute would entertain the idea the Wrights might be interested, presuming they knew about its failure to fly. It would be interesting to find out correspondence between Chanute and Ader to read what Ader's thoughts were on him offering the Avion III to the Wrights.
I agree Chanute move was a little ackward - Avion III was not a success plus the Wrights wanted to succeed their own way and by themselves.

Maybe it can be explained the following way.

Chanute tried to get the best of both worlds - he tried to help the Wrights by handling them Ader experiments or experience. If they could scavenge anything useful from Ader, the better. Don't forget, Chanute was pretty unique as he was a french-born American. He probably saw himself as a "bridge" spanning the Atlantic.

Unlike Ader and France at the time (hint: 1870 defeat) Chanute was immune to gross chauvinism and nationalism. Gabriel Voisin, who lived until the 60's, become a caricature of all this (think Grandpa Simpson !) with his book "Mes 10 000 cerf volants". He did a lot of damage, not only to the Wright and Ader, but also to other french pioneers.

Unlike the Wrights, Chanute did not care about patents
(the Wrights main flaws: they were a little greedy and paranoid about somebody stealling their success. That's understandable, but on the longer it deserved them, and for nothing. France ultimately steamrolled them while their own country scorned them until WWI or even beyond. Hint: the mess they got into with Glenn Curtiss did a lot of damage to them).

I red this one a loooooong time ago and they made a very honest to God summary of the whole controversy.

 
Last edited:

robunos

You're Mad, You Are.....
Senior Member
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
1,924
Reaction score
272
Is "off the ground for around 50 metres and to a maximum altitude of 8 inches" achieving heavier-than-air flight, yes or not?

No, it can't. Like I said, the Eole got off the ground, but it, like the Avion III were terribly underpowered. Yes there was likely lift produced by its wing surfaces, but its momentum was far too slow to be able to effectively carry the aircraft into the air. 8 inches off the ground is not 'flight'. You are travelling in ground effect, essentially, and since you've learnned to fly you'd know this. While trying to land an aeroplane you would have noticed that it wants to float down the runway until you effectively stall it onto the ground.

In the same vein, Ader's avions were not completely without controls: there was a vertical rudder and there was wing warping.

I never said Ader's aircraft were completely without controls. Also, to argue it had wing warping is a bit of a stretch. the effect of turning the wheels in its cockpit was to alter the camber of the upper surface, rather than differentially alter the angle of attack at the tips as wing warping does. Again however, how effective this was in controlling an aircraft in flight was not proven. The other thing was that neither of Ader's aircraft had an elevator, which meant that the pilot had no real control over ascent and descent apart from varying the propeller rpm, but we know what would have happened if this was carried out for even a short while - the propellers would have disintegrated.

I won't follow those who want to decide who deserves the sole credit.

That's up to you, but not even the Wrights deserve sole credit. They themselves researched Lillienthal's lift and drag tables to determine effective camber of their wing surfaces. To add to that, when they wrote to the Smithsonian requesting reference material on flight in 1899, they would have read about George Cayley, Percy Pilcher, not to mention Bernoulli's venturi effect being at play, but as for Ader? They might have read about his attempts, but his work was inconsequential and there's no record of them referencing him in their research, but he was far from out of their orbit during their aviating.

In a bizarre turn, Octave Chanute, who built and flew gliders at the same time as the Wrights at Kittyhawk actually made contact with Ader and while they were preparing the Flyer for its first powered flight in late 1903, Chanute told them he was looking to buy the Avion III from a museum in France and he wanted the Wrights to restore it and fly it. The Wrights revealed their incredulity at the suggestion in a letter to their father, Milton, believing Chanute's suggestion to be a little crazy!

Let's not forget that Ader only made his false claims of flight in 1906 after Alberto Santos-Dumont's first flights in Europe, not before. The report that Mensier wrote was lodged away in the French military, and the Avion III was nothing more than a museum exhibit dragged out during automobile displays. Ader did nothing in aviation after the Avion III, until 1906 - this is what the modern Ader supporters get wrong when they talk about beating the Wrights. Ader's beef was not with the Wrights, but Santos-Dumont!

Again however, the Wrights must be elevated to prominence because they brought everything together. All that stuff that the pioneers had messed about with; controlling an aircraft in flight, a successful power-to-weight ratio - all led to them building the first successful aircraft. It was no accident that they got to where they did. For those beforehand, including Ader, it was, simply because they left out pieces of the puzzle.

Regarding the control system of the Avion, have a look at the link below, which described a radio controlled flying bat. You will need to download the 'supplement' at the bottom of the page for the full article . . .
Basically the model turns by varying the span of the individual wings, and climbs or dives by doing the same but collectively.



cheers,
Robin.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
2,675
Reaction score
1,203
@Archibald :

a french-born American.
Just to put things back in context, at that time, everybody there was a somewhere-born American (2nd or third generation at max.). Most immigrants embraced their new country leaving their roots behind without much emphasis. It would remain to be seen if this assertion (Chanute being unique as an ambassador) can be backed with facts.
I have never heard about such story.

 

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
Basically the model turns by varying the span of the individual wings, and climbs or dives by doing the same but collectively.

Excellent. Taking the economies of scale into the equation doesn't necessarily mean this might work in a full scale sense. The difference being that the Avion III probably weighed a damn sight heavier than the model and we know it had a terrible power-to-weight ratio, which would have affected its forward speed, therefore the impact of altering the camber might have had on the aircraft would no doubt have been quite different, but I see your point.

The other things is that Ader never built a full size wing surface and examined its effect on control in flight before building the Eole, then the Avion III - he only made models and theorised.
 
Last edited:

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
To Ader credit, his steam powered engines had remarquable power to weight ratio for the time

For a steam engine, maybe, but to sustain an aircraft in flight, not even close. The Avion III's engine produced 40hp and weighed 117kg with a power-to-weight ratio of 3hp per kg. That means it could lift itself and a coupla blocks of cheese and that's it, nevermind the combined weight of the aircraft and pilot.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
4,455
Reaction score
1,960
Sure. No surprise Maxim and Kreiss failed too. Steam engine was not the correct way to go. Not for aircraft.
 

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
No surprise Maxim and Kreiss failed too

True, mind you, Maxim just wanted to build a device that could lift off the ground of its own accord. he had no intention of building a practicable flying machine, so in that case, he didn't fail, but fulfilled his objective. he used to give 'joy-rides' in it! The Maxim steam engine was one of the very first aeronautical exhibits to go on public display in a museum in the UK and was gifted to what would go on to become the Science Museum at South Kensington.
 

Attachments

  • Maxim Engine.jpg
    Maxim Engine.jpg
    350.9 KB · Views: 14

Archibald

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
4,455
Reaction score
1,960
Aircrews pouring coal during flight... note that Emmett Brown did it in the end...
 

galgot

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
958
Reaction score
1,024
Website
galgot.com
True, rise of aviation as we have it, like the rise of our modern industrial civilization , was dependent on the discover/use of petrol.
No matter who or where, once the petrol internal combustion engine was there, it was going to work... fly.
Remove petrol, and I don't think there would be 7 billion humans here anyway.

I do like the idea of Ader being the first to lift-off in a powered heavier than air though… even how ridiculous 8 inches ( Hey, that's 20 cm ! looks a lot better in cm :p ) high on 50 meters is, and without control, and not even being the first… Just for the sake of being French.
In any Ader story, one could mention: "the French still believes that Ader was the first to fly (8 inches high), because they are French , and because it's fun".
And because Ader's Avion look so cool.
 
Last edited:

steelpillow

So many projects, so little time...
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
994
Reaction score
434
Website
www.steelpillow.com
In conclusion, the Avion III’s system of control was certainly novel and might have enabled some means of control when the wheels were operated differentially, which would have enabled a wing to rise and the opposing one to descend to induce a turn. How effective this might have been depended on the aircraft’s forward speed, which is difficult to predict, given the low power output of its steam engine. The large hinged rudder would have enabled a yawing motion, but the lack of an elevator meant that the only means of ascending and descending was variation of the engine power output, thus affecting the propeller rpm. This all would have made the Avion III a very trying juggling act in flight. In examination of the engine data provided, given that the engine weighed slightly less than its total power-to-weight ratio, the Avion III was terribly underpowered.

I am not sure if that conclusion is justified. It seems to me that the Eole III was not so much underpowered as inefficient. Dunne's D.5 was inefficient enough with its conical washout and sheet metal propellers and weighed over 700 kg, yet it flew on only 35 hp. The Wrights flew on only 12 hp. Ader's 40 hp engine weighing a bit over 100 kg would have been fine if he had spent more time on his aerodynamics and propeller construction. Had the props held together he should have reached around 40-50 kph, enough for the rudder to have some effect. However it is so far forward and low down that its effect would have been as much like Cody's head rudder, a vertical surface above the wing which augmented his ailerons. The lack of an elevator would not really have been a problem if the plane was stable, as he would have stayed in ground effect and only landed when he stopped the engine. However longitudinal stability might well have been lacking (as it was with the Wrights), in which case the plane would not have been flyable. But I wonder whether coordinated control of the warping wheels in the same direction might have been intended to provide pitch control, and whether that could or could not have been effective.

By the way, we can distinguish three stages to powered flight; a brief "hop" in which drag is greater than thrust so the plane quickly loses speed, skimming along low down in ground effect, and fully free flight. Ader managed the first with his original Eole, the Wrights the second in 1903 and the Wrights again the third with (I think) the Flyer III around 1907. I would like to see all three achievements properly recognised.
 
Last edited:

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
2,675
Reaction score
1,203
Well with enough wind a barn door can fly. That doesn't make spiders and mice aeronauts and flying creatures.

 

nuuumannn

Cannae be ar*ed changing my personal text
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
222
Reaction score
362
I am not sure if that conclusion is justified. It seems to me that the Eole III was not so much underpowered as inefficient.

Sorry, I don't buy it, to be honest. Those early aircraft were certainly underpowered, as you pointed out the Flyer was, and it was inefficient, but it never flew, neither did the Avion III. I still stand by what I've written despite your argument, as since neither really 'flew' as it were, we'll never know just how effective their control system was, as, like I said, Ader didn't really trial it full scale before building his powered machines. I do believe that at the low speeds you quote, the effectiveness of his control system would have been marginal if not totally ineffective at changing direction. Can you also verify how you came to the conclusion of 40 to 50 kph based on what we know about the engine power to weight ratio? We also don't know what the combined weight of the Avion III was, so we have no real idea whether or not its engine could have gotten it off the ground. Also, the Wright Flyer was of lesser mass than the Avion III, it's wing area and configuration was also trialled on the 1902 glider, as was its control system, so was proven to work. No such work was done on the Avion III.

But I wonder whether coordinated control of the warping wheels in the same direction might have been intended to provide pitch control, and whether that could or could not have been effective.

The wheels couldn't be rotated independently of each other; they were interconnected by a horizontal tube and rotated in one direction or the other, so could only be operated differentially.

Ader managed the first with his original Eole, the Wrights the second in 1903 and the Wrights again the third with (I think) the Flyer III around 1907. I would like to see all three achievements properly recognised.

No one is disagreeing with the fact that the Eole got off the ground under power, but at 8 inches above the ground, you are in ground effect (am I repeating myself?), so it really can't be qualified as anything more than a hop, not to mention the fact it was damaged beyond repair on landing. It was sufficient enough for the French military to grant Ader funding to build another aircraft though.

The first Wright Flyer was built in late 1903, the second in 1904 and the third in 1905. The fourth, the 1907 Flyer was the same as the 1905 Flyer and was the aircraft that Wilbur took to France in 1908. It was capable of carrying a passenger as well as its pilot. Let's just remember for a bit what the Wrights achieved with their first three aircraft before they took their 1907 Flyer to Europe for public demonstrations. Like I said earlier, by the end of 1905, the Wrights had spent 109 hours flying three different powered aircraft within a two year period.
 

Similar threads

Top