The early years to first success
Langley, Bleriot, Astra, Peyret, Maneyrol
I got a mail from Kenneth Ketner:
"In your site, you mentioned the Langley tandem didn't fly. That
correct. His smaller models flew well, and their success caused
international excitement because many famous scientists had
bluntly that heavier-than-air powered machines were
Even Langley's man-carrying tandem was later rebuilt by Alexander
Bell and Glenn Curtiss and successfully flown by Curtiss and
1910. In 1907, Louis Bleriot had flown a Langley configuration
Later I will try to get approval to use some drawings or photos.
Or I will make some drawings myself.
John J. Montgomery
Also go see for some other early year tandem:
Peyret - Maneyrol, a first succes
In 1907 Louis Peyret, a French engineer, made a
model with nearly identical wings.
August 1922, a glider competition in France at Combegrasse (close
The French pilot Alexis Maneyrol was also in the competition, but
he made no chance because of his bad glider. Peyret came in too
late with his tandemwing to be a part of the competition. It was
the only tandemwing in the competition. Maneyrol and Peyret met. At
the end of the month Maneyrol made several flights in the glider.
He thought it was a stable airplane. Together with Peyret and his
assistants they made a glider especially for a international glider
competition, organized by the Daily Mail. It got the name Alerion
Peyret. Alerion was a common name for any airplane at that time in
France. They always placed the name of the designer after the word
You can find the patent with its patent number 1,492,262
One thing is remarkable about this gliders construction. It had on
each wing full span control surfaces. You can see it better on the
pictures of the "small" model lower on the page. If you pulled the
steering stick, the front wing surfaces went down and the rear wing
surfaces went up. If you pushed the stick, the opposite happened.
If you pushed the stick to the right, the surfaces of the right
wing went up, the ones on the left wing went down.
The advantage of this system is that you don't need trim.
Surprise. Surprise. It won the competition. It even broke the
record of longest glide. It became now 3 hours and 22 minutes.
Peyret and Maneyrol became immediately French heroes. And they
received the price money of 1000 Livres Sterling. Maneyrol was
warmly congratulated in London by Monsieur Laurent-Eynac, a French
important person (sorry, I don't know the English correct name). At
arrival back to Paris, they were greeted by a mass of enthusiasts.
Maneyrol was carried about like a big winner. Both got medals by
the Federation. A story about victory.
Not so long later, Maneyrol broke the record again in the same
Alérion Peyret. This time is became 8h 4' 50'' 2/5. Victory again.
Not much later Maneyrol broke the distance record. Victory
But tragedy stuck and stuck hard. It was during a attempt to break
the record of height that Maneyrol got killed. It was not in the
Alérion Peyret. The wings broke in mid air after having reached to
a incredible height. But the barograph got damaged in the accident
and the record never got official.
A bit later he made the "Taupin", a motorized tandemwing. It flew
perfect! A drawing of it can be seen on the French site
It is a pity that the aviationindustry didn't follow the
tandemdesign. Their reasons were:
- No laws concerning this type of airplane
- Questions about aerodynamics between both wings
- The fact that a second large wing had to be made, which would
increase the cost and which ... didn't look good.
Euh... the French have a saying: "Les gouts et les couleurs on ne
discutte pas" (translation: one does not discuss taste and
About 80 years after the record, a group of modelbuilders honour
Peyret and Maneyrol by making a large, flyable model of the glider.
The "small" model has a span of 3,30 m (10 ft 9 in).
In a article I found there was written that the first generation
of tandemwings all had the same problem: interference between the
two wings when changing the angle of attack. It was mentioned that
the flight-behavior got from good to VERY bad. The prototypes would
have been very dangerous to fly.It got me thinking: "if this is
true, than Eric Cousin would have had the same problems with his
large model". So, I asked Eric. I got a reply from Eric Cousin with
the results of the first flights of the model. He writes:
"We don't have a problem with the pitch control. Not on the
prototype, not on the large model. The only trouble we had was the
placing of the CG (center of gravity). The prototype was having the
will to dive or was tail-heavy. If the Cg was was too backwards, it
got a very fast nose-up effect. Now I come to think about it, I
recall a flight with a not-CG-adjusted prototype where the model
nosed-up rapidly and made a funny but not-promising movement. It
flew at the opposite of its flight and the rear became the front!
The model got adjusted and we tried several settings of the wings
in relation to the fuselage. It ended with 2° for the front wing
and 0° for the rear wing. The right CG was only found after a lot
of testing. Too much forward, the model dove slightly. Too much
backwards the model made a nose-up or a parachutal desent (see
Henri Mignet). Once the CG was correct, the glider had a good
glide-ratio and we were looking forward for the first
After a week to wait for ideal wind and some needed repairs we
made it have its first true ridge-glide. I was piloting. The first
flight were done with only the controls of the rear wing (mix of
ailerons and elevators + rudder). Later flights had also front
The large model flew like the smaller prototype. Only difference
was that the large model was more wingloaded and reacted faster in
pitch (up-down). The CG was a bit more backwards. Weird thing
happened. The prototype was flown and I thought that a part of the
CG-centering weights got loose because the flight-behavior got less
ideal. But, that day, all the conventional models flying stayed
down the ridge and had a bad day flying while we stayed up. We were
the best! All were surprised that day."