The Bleriot XI was the most significant and influential design of its era. From 1909 to 1914 over 800 licensed models were built, with untold imitations. The XI represents the first successful tractor monoplane, a design that would dominate air racing and exhibition circuits for years to come. Like almost all planes of this early era, bank was controlled by warping the wings. In 1913 a Bleriot piloted by Adolphe Pégoud was the first aircraft to be flown in sustained inverted flight.
Louis Blériot made a name for himself manufacturing acetylene headlamps and accessories for automobiles in France. His success allowed him indulgence in aviation pursuits. After ten failed designs, Blériot achieved success in December 1908 with his eleventh model, the XI, or “Type Onze.” He achieved recognition in 1909, when he won the London Daily Mail’s ₤1,000 prize for the first aeroplane flight across the English Channel – while still on crutches from a previous crash. He made this flight of 21 miles in 38 minutes, through fog and mist, without a compass.
This reproduction was built for the 1958 film The Lafayette Escadrille and fitted with an authentic three-cylinder Anzani engine at the Museum.
Specifications:Span 25’ 7”; Length 26’ 3”. Engine: 25 horsepower Anzani 3-cylinder, air-cooled. Top speed: 42 mph.
Accession no. 1992G35.