Breguet, Louis

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. 2 January 1880 Paris, France
d. 4 May 1955 Paris, France
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French aviation pioneer who built a helicopter in 1907 and designed many successful aircraft.
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The Breguet family had been manufacturing fine clocks since before the French Revolution, but Louis Breguet and his brother Jacques used their mechanical skills to produce a helicopter, or "gyroplane" as they named it. It was a complex machine with four biplane rotors (i.e. thirty-two lifting surfaces). Louis Breguet had carried out many tests to determine the most suitable rotor design. The Breguet brothers were assisted by Professor Charles Richet and the Breguet-Richet No. 1 was tested in September 1907 when it succeeded in lifting itself, and its pilot, to a height of 1.5 metres. Unfortunately, the gyroplane was rather unstable and four helpers had to steady it; consequently, the flight did not qualify as a "free" flight. This was achieved two months later, also in France, by Paul Cornu who made a 20-second free flight.
Louis Breguet turned his attention to aeroplane design and produced a tractor biplane when most other biplanes followed the Wright brothers' layout with a forward elevator and pusher propeller. The Breguet I made quite an impression at the 1909 Reims meeting, but the Breguet IV created a world record the following year by carrying six people. During the First World War the Breguet Type 14 bomber was widely used by French and American squadrons. Between the First and Second World Wars a wide variety of designs were produced, including flying boats and another helicopter, the Breguet- Dorand Gyroplane which flew for over one hour in 1936. The Breguet company survived World War II and in the late 1940s developed a successful four-engined airliner/transport, the Deux-Ponts, which had a bulbous double-deck fuselage.
Breguet was an innovative designer, although his designs were functional rather than elegant. He was an early advocate of metal construction and developed an oleo- (oil-spring) undercarriage leg.
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Bibliography
1925, Le Vol à voile dynamique des oiseaux. Analyse des effets des pulsations du vent sur la résultante aérodynamique moyenne d'un planeur, Paris.
Further Reading
P.Faure, 1938, Louis Breguet, Paris (biography).
C.H.Gibbs-Smith, 1965, The Invention of the Aeroplane 1799–1909, London (provides a careful analysis of Breguet's early aircraft).
JDS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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