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> Aurel Vlaicu Icarus above the Carpathians Issue: 2012-3 Section: 14-16

Romanian

 

Aurel Vlaicu was born on the 19th of November 1882 in Binţinţi near Orastie, in Hunedoara County, and he was a Romanian inventor, engineer and an aviation pioneer. He attended the primary school in his native village, and in 1890 he registered for the elementary school in the city of Orastie. After passing the baccalaureate exam he attended the Mechanics Faculty of the Polytechnic School of Budapest. He was then enrolled in the military service. He obtained the engineering degree in 1907. In 1908, he was employed for a short period of time as an engineer at Automotive Factory Opel Rüsselheim Germany, and then returned to his native village in 1908, where he and his brother John made a glider in 1909, which made a number of flights to Binţinţi.

In the fall of 1909 after moving to Bucharest, he began the construction of his first aircraft- Vlaicu I, the Army arsenal.

The plane can fly without any modification, which is a breakthrough for early aviation world-wide in June 1910.The "Vlaicu I" will fly for the first time in June 17th, 1910 over the field Cotroceni. He signed the patent no. 2258 for what was named at that time "a flying arrow-shaped machine ". With this aircraft he participated in the autumn military maneuvers.

He placed Romania on the second place in the world (after France) in the use of military aircraft, and the airplane Vlaicu I (model 1910) was the first military aircraft of the Romanian Army. Vlaicu first introduced protective ring around the engine, known as NACA ring. He improved wing with variable profile, previously designed by Vuia. He introduced a gearbox between the engine and propeller; the propeller used two coaxial Contrarotating, the dual wheel landing gear and the brake independent wheels.

In 1911 he built the second airplane, Vlaicu II, which won five awards in1912 in the air rally Aspern, Austria. The competition took place in June 1912 and it brought together 42 riders from 7 countries, 17 from Austria-Hungary, 7 from Germany, 12 from France, the latter team including Roland Garros, the most famous pilot of the time. Vlaicu was the only Romanian in the rally.

During the campaign in Bulgary in the summer of 1913, he performed missions of aerial observation.

In 1911 he built the second airplane, Vlaicu II, which won five awards in1912 in the air rally Aspern, Austria. The competition took place in June 1912 and it brought together 42 riders from 7 countries, 17 from Austria-Hungary, 7 from Germany, 12 from France, the latter team including Roland Garros, the most famous pilot of the time. Vlaicu was the only Romanian in the rally.

During the campaign in Bulgary in the summer of 1913, he performed missions of aerial observation.

In 1914 he designed a new two-seater airplane, Vlaicu III, commissioned by English company Marconi. It was built entirely of metal and can be considered the world's first aircraft of this type.

On September 13th, he tried to fly across the Carpathians, from Bucharest to Brasov, but failed, falling with his Vlaicu II, in the field in the south of Banesti village, Prahova County. Aurel Vlaicu dies in the accident. Causes of this fatal plane crash were not unfortunately clarified so far: technical failure or heart attack.

The main additions brought by Aurel Vlaicu to aviation were the variable profile wings in flight, depending on the angle of flight and device speed, high stability in cornering and tilt of the plane, facile landing train - including the world's first wheeled independent settlement in tandem propeller with increased thrust and torque reversal. For the first time the aircraft A. Vlaicu III had a fuselage made almost completely from aluminum having an aerodynamic shape.

For the history of Romanian aviation, and not only, Aurel Vlaicu was a pioneer who proved that an inquisitive mind doubled by talent and proper education can lead to discoveries that may later change the course of future and boost the pride of one nation. As William James said, “Invention, using the term most broadly, and imitation, are the two legs, so to call them, on which the human race historically has walked.”

 

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