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Avion III

The Avion III (sometimes referred to as the Aquilon or the Éole III) was a primitive steam-powered aircraft built by Clément Ader between 1892 and 1897, financed by the French War Office.

Retaining the same basic bat-like configuration of the Éole, the Avion III was equipped with two engines driving two propellers. While the earlier aircraft had no means of directional control at all, this one was equipped with a small rudder.

Trials of the aircraft began at the Satory army base near Versailles on 12 October 1897, with the aircraft taxiing along a circular track. The first flight was attempted on 14 October and most sources agree ended almost immediately in a crash without ever leaving the ground. Late in his life, Ader would claim that there had been a flight of 100 m (328 ft) on this day, and said he had two witnesses to confirm it. Whatever actually happened, the French military was unimpressed with the demonstration and cancelled any further funding.

The machine is preserved at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris. It underwent extensive restoration in the 1980s.

Specifications (Avion III)

Steam engine of Eole III (seen from the front). Musée des Arts et Métiers.

General characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Length: ()
  • Wingspan: 16 m (52 ft 6 in)
  • Height: ()
  • Wing area: 56 m² (602 ft²)
  • Loaded weight: 400 kg (880 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2× Ader alcohol-burning steam engines, 15 kW (20 hp) each



See also

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