Like a celebrity
product endorsement of today, Louis Blériot’s historic flight over
the English channel made the Blériot XI the high-tech object of
desire for European elite. Overnight it became the ultimate sporting
aircraft of the day, and its image was elevated to the status of an
icon of cutting-edge style. Like today’s sports stars and their
gear, the Blériot XI was featured in advertisements and posters for
The Blériot XI,
designed by Raymond Saulnier, was a distinctive design for its day,
being a monoplane (single wing) as opposed to the more common
biplane (two wings). With the reduced drag of only one wing, it had
potential for greater speed, more manoeuvrability, and lower weight
than most of its contemporaries. The basic design was modified and
improved many times over the years it was in production, and it was
either copied or licensed for production in many European countries
and in North and South America.
In 1910, the
Blériot XI was selected for service by the French and Italian
military making it the first aircraft designated for war use. A year
later it was the first aircraft actually used in war when it was
flown by the Italian air force during the Italo-Turkish war of 1911.
At the start of World War I, the French air force contained eight
squadrons of Blériots and the Royal Flying Corps flew several in
France with the expeditionary force. A total of 132 Blériot XI were
built in five versions.
Blériot XI Specifications:
1908 to 1914
Empty Weight: 500
Gross Weight: 660
Maximum Speed: 45+
Maximum Range: 50
Number of Crew: 1
Engine: Anzani 25
hp, 50-horsepower Gnôme rotary engine
of this type was the first aircraft to cross the English
Channel. Later models of the Bleriot monoplane were used for
reconnaissance work early in World War I.
Bleriot monoplane flying at the airshow at Belmont Park, Long
Island, NY, 1910.