EAA's Bleriot XI
is a faithful reproduction built from original drawings.
Eric Presten's Bleriot XI replica
uses wing warping for lateral control.
By the end of 1911 Louis Bleriot had
delivered more than 500 examples of his Model XI monoplane, making it
one of the most popular pre-World War I aircraft types.
But given the craft's now obsolete system
of warping the wings for lateral control, one has to wonder how many
flying hours all those airplanes were able to accumulate.
"The wing warping is almost useless
on this thing," said Eric Presten, owner of a Bleriot XI replica
that is here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010.
"You have to be at cruise speed
before it becomes really active. And active means I can get all the way
to 20 degrees of bank before the dihedral overpowers the wing warping.
"Ailerons are the solution. There's
a reason Boeing uses them on all those airliner thingies they make up in
Presten's replica, on display near the
VAA Red Barn, is one of two examples of the Bleriot XI type here this
Although faithful in appearance to the
original, Presten's bird is constructed completely of modern materials
and is powered by a modern engine-a stark contrast to EAA's nearly
completed reproduction airplane.
The EAA Bleriot, destined for flights at
Pioneer Airport, is a faithful example of the original, including a 1910
three-cylinder radial Anzani Fan (W-3) powerplant.
"This airplane was built to original
drawings, at least the ones we could obtain," EAA's Gary Buettner
According to Buettner the build was
difficult. All of the metal components had to be fabricated from
scratch, and the wood, all of it ash, is notably difficult to work with.
The engine, built in 1910 and rebuilt by
EAA volunteers, was located in France and carried to Oshkosh-in
pieces-as hand luggage.
It may be only one of five examples of
the type known to exist. Daily runs during the past two conventions gave
AirVenture attendees an opportunity to experience the unique sounds and
smells that were a part of early aviation.
Construction of the EAA Bleriot began
with building the wing ribs at the 2006 convention. Efforts continued
over the next three years both from EAA staff and volunteers from The
The airplane is now, according to
Buettner, 99.9 percent complete.
"All we have to do is check it over,
safety wire everything, paint the engine mount, and complete a few other
details," Buettner said.
Each AirVenture since the project began
became an opportunity to make significant progress on the reproduction.
That tradition continues this year.
"About three days into the
convention we finished the wings and got them mounted," Buettner
said. "We built the instrument panel, and we put on the engine
"That doesn't sound like much, but
there's a lot of work involved."
The EAA bird, located in Workshop Tent 2,
is expected to fly yet this fall.
In stark contrast to the long duration of
the EAA build, Presten's replica was completed, first part to first
flight, in 26 days. It broke ground for the first time June 12, 2009.
The plane now has 11 hours on the
airframe, a total time that may seem like very little for a year-old
"Eleven hours of wing warping is a
lot," Presten said. "But, the only really good reason to fly
this is to fly it in front of people that want to see it fly.
"There are lots of opportunities to
do that, but if there is any detectible air motion at all, I won't fly
"It's all about the wing warping.
That's the big limitation."
Watch a video of the EAA Bleriot
construction update from May 2010.