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Santos-Dumont Demoiselle (replica)

1909 (1999), Flight Shed, On long term display

After producing several lighter-than-air machines from 1897, Brazilian-born millionaire Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932) produced his first successful biplane, the '14 bis' in 1906. This made the first official manned flight by a powered aeroplane in Europe on 12/11/1906, being a 21 second hop of 721ft (241m). In 1907, he produced the first version of his Demoiselle Monoplane Type 19. Although not very successful, it was developed in 1908-10 as the Demoiselle Type 20 and, in the hands of a skilful and lightweight pilot, was exciting to fly. As the world's first viable light aeroplane, it was very popular at flying displays and Santos-Dumont actively encouraged amateurs to build more by waiving patents’ rights. Further design development was halted by Santos-Dumont's crippling illness which led to his early death in 1932.

One airworthy Demoiselle was built in Britain in the 1960s for the film 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' which was based on Brooklands flying activities of 1910. Original Demoiselles were of wood, bamboo and mild steel construction and various engines were fitted. Most replicas have used welded steel tubing for the fuselage framework.

This bamboo-based Demoiselle was built by Julian Aubert over three years after a decade of researching the subject. In early 1999, he achieved his ambition "to build an authentic taxiable replica using original plans, materials and construction methods, with the exception of the engine". The project was helped by many people, especially John Penney who donated the propeller and a modified car engine, Gerry and Caroline Winter, and Mike Beach.

DATA: One air-cooled 40 hp DAF engine; wing span 18ft (5.5m); length 20ft (6.1m); height 5ft (1.5m) ; weight 242lbs (110kg).