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 Vaniman Triplane
Melvin Vaniman built his own aeroplane in 1906… a triplane, in fact… the first ever triplane.Made of three arched planes, supported by a frame of steel tubes, each measuring 11 meters (36-feet) in length and 2 meters 20 cm (7.2-feet) in breadth. Total surface area: 72 (square) meters (775-square-feet). 70/80 HP Antoinette engine with 8 cylinders driving a propeller with two arms placed to the rear. The length is six meters (19.7 feet). In front, two elevators (or rudders): one horizontal and placed in the lower part, serves to control the altitude; the second, vertical, placed about 2/3 of the height of the machine, controls the direction and the turning, whether one tilts to the right or the left. The function of warping the wings is made by means of an arrangement placed on the shoulders of the aviator, and the direction to the right or the left by means of two pedals. Total weight: 500 kilograms (1,102.3-pounds).
There seems to be some discrepancy over whether or not his triplane actually flew. In 1907 Vaniman appears to have given up on aeroplanes saying: “I once had great faith in aeroplanes… I am firmly set in my belief that the aeroplane will never be a cargo carrier.”
Vaniman did not participate in the 1909 Reims air show… because he was already heavily at work on his dirigible, and therefore, there is no way anyone anywhere saw him fly at Reims some 150 meters (492 feet).
The 1911-series of 75 Aviation cards from Wills’s shows the Vaniman triplane in flight… and despite the date, it actually shows the earlier machine… perhaps more for what they hoped it actually represented… a triplane…
The two machines are basically the same: a triplane, with twin-boom outriggers, a high rectangular vertical surface, a single pusher propeller. But the two Vaniman triplanes are otherwise quite different.
1907 Vaniman
1908 Vaniman






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