Vuia in his flying machine
August 17, 1872|
Surducul-Mic, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Traian Vuia, Romania)
|Died||September 3, 1950
|Known for||Early flying machine|
Traian Vuia (Romanian pronunciation: [traˈjan ˈvuja]; August 17, 1872 - September 3, 1950) was a Romanian inventor and aviation pioneer who designed, built and tested a tractor configuration monoplane. He said his first airborne test traveled about 12 metres (39 feet) on March 18, 1906, and his best distance was 24 m (79 ft). Though unsuccessful in sustained flight, Vuia's invention influenced Louis Blériot in designing monoplanes. Vuia abandoned fixed-wing aircraft to design helicopters.
A French citizen since 1918, Vuia was associated with the French Resistance during World War II. He returned to Romania in 1950.
Education and early career
Vuia was born to Romanian parents Simion Popescu si Ana Vuia living in Surducul-Mic, a village in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (The place is now called Traian Vuia, Romania.) After graduating from high school in Lugoj, Banat in 1892, at that time part of Hungary within Austro-Hungarian empire, today in Romania, he enrolled in the School of Mechanics at the Polytechnic University of Budapest where he received his engineering diploma. He then joined the Faculty of Law in Budapest - Hungary, where he earned a Ph.D. in law in May 1901 with the thesis "Military and Industry, State and Contract regime".
He returned to Lugoj, where he studied the problem of human flight and designed his first flying machine, which he called the "airplane-car". He attempted to build the machine, but due to financial constraints decided to go to Paris in July 1902, hoping to find someone interested in financing his project, possibly balloon enthusiasts. He met with considerable skepticism from people who believed that a heavier-than-air machine could not fly. He then visited Victor Tatin, a well-known theoretician and experimenter who had built an aircraft model which flew in 1879.
Tatin was interested in the project, but doubted that Vuia had a suitable engine or that his aircraft would be stable. Vuia then presented his plan to the Académie des Sciences in Paris on February 16, 1903, but was rejected with the comment:
- The problem of flight with a machine which weighs more than air can not be solved and it is only a dream.
Undeterred, Vuia applied for a patent which was granted on August 17, 1903 and published on October 16, 1903. He began to build his first flying machine in the winter of 1902–1903. Overcoming more financial difficulties, he also started construction of an engine of his own design in autumn 1904 and received a patent for it that year in the United Kingdom.
By December 1905 Vuia had finished construction of his first aircraft, the "Traian Vuia, 1" a high-wing monoplane powered by a carbonic acid gas engine. The frame was steelwork by Hockenjos and Schmitt and the wings were pivoted to control ascent and descent. The 25 hp engine had to be adapted by Vuia himself as the engine he wanted was not available. The liquid carbon dioxide was vaporized in a Serpollet boiler; the fuel supply gave a running duration of about three minutes. Vuia chose a site in Montesson, near Paris, for testing. At first he used the machine without the wings mounted so he could gather experience controlling it on the ground. The wings were put on in March and on March 18, 1906, it lifted off briefly. After accelerating for about 50 m (160 ft), the plane left the ground and flew at about 1 m (3 ft 3 in) high for a distance of about 12 m (39 ft) but then the engine cut out and it came down. Caught by the wind it was damaged against a tree. The British aviation historian Charles Harvard Gibbs-Smith described this aircraft as "the first man-carrying monoplane of basically modern configuration", yet "unsuccessful" because it was incapable of sustained flight.
The French journal L'Aérophile emphasized that Vuia's machine had the capability to take off from a flat surface only by on-board means without outside assistance, such as an incline, rails, or catapult. At the time Europe was aware but skeptical of the efforts of the Wright brothers who on December 17, 1903, had flown their Wright Flyer from level ground using a rail only to guide the wheeled truck that their Flyer rested on until take off was achieved. The Wrights had made sustained and controlled flights in a complete circuit by September 1904.
After his March 1906 takeoff, Vuia made several more powered hops or short flights later that year and in 1907. In August 1906 he built a modified version of his flying machine, the "Vuia I bis." None of these were successful in achieving sustained flight, so Vuia abandoned them.
In 1907, his "Vuia II" airplane, with an Antoinette 25 horsepower (19 kilowatts) internal combustion engine, was exhibited at the first Aeronautical Salon in Paris.
Aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont, who made famous short flights in Paris in October and November 1906, recognized Vuia as a "forerunner" of his efforts, as described by Charles Dollfus, the curator of an aeronautical museum in Paris.
Vuia made his first flight or "powered hop" on March 18, 1906, in the presence of his mechanic and two close friends. Accounts of this test, published at the time, and of his later airborne tests, till August 19, 1906, are based on letters he wrote to L’Aérophile, the official journal of the Aéro Club of France. Vuia performed the first known public demonstration of his airplane on October 8, 1906 when he made four-meter hop in front of two French officials. Another journal of the period, Flight, credited him with a hop of five meters on October 8, 1906, as the earliest entry in a list of his tests shown in a table of "the performances which have been made by the most prominent aviators of the last few years". None of these brief seconds of the aircraft being airborne qualify as sustained, controlled flight.
Another invention by Vuia was a steam generator with internal combustion that could generate very high pressure of more than 100 atm (10 MPa) that is still used today in thermal power stations.
On May 27, 1946, Vuia was named an Honorary Member of the Romanian Academy.
- Gibbs-Smith, Charles Harvard (1965). The world's first aeroplane flights (1903–1908) and earlier attempts to fly. Her Majesty's Stationery Office. p. 31.
- Traia Vuia History at EarlyAviators.com. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
- "Hargrave The Pioneers Traian Vuia". Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Ten Years Ago", Flight, 19 October 1916: 908, "Excerpts from the Auto (FLIGHT'S precursor and sister Journal) of October, 1906."
- Orna p365
- Orna p366
- Hidarca, Dan. "Traian Vuia". Century of Aviation. Romanian Academy Library. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
- Gibbs-Smith, Charles Harvard (3 April 1959)."Hops and Flights" Flight. p. 469
- "L'Aéroplane sur Roues de M. Vuia", L'Aérophile v.14 1906, February 1906: 53–54
- Gibbs-Smith, Aviation: an historical survey, pp. 100-102
- Gibbs-Smith, Aviation: an historical survey, p. 144
- "Modest Experimenter-Vuias Powered Flights: the Successes of a Little Known Pioneer". Flight. 30 March 1956. p. 365.
- "L'Aéroplane Vuia", L'Aérophile v.14 1906, October 1906: 242–243
- "Progress of Mechanical Flight", Flight, 2 January 1909: 12
- Spenser, Jay (2009). The Airplane. HarperCollins. pp. 45–47. ISBN 0061980447.
- Catillon, Marcel (1997). Mémorial aéronautique: qui était qui? (in French). Nouvelles Editions Latines. p. 160. ISBN 2723305295.
- Gibbs-Smith, Charles Harvard (1970). Aviation: an historical survey from its origins to the end of World War II.. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
- Orna, Bernard (30 March 1956). "Modest Experimenter - Vuias Powered Flights: the Successes of a Little-known Pioneer". Flight: 365–366.
- "The Pioneers: An Anthology: Trajan Vuia (1872-1950)". Monash University Centre for Telecommunications and Information Engineering (CTIE). Retrieved March 18, 2012. at www.earlyaviators.com
- Patents of Trajan Vuia on espacenet.com