Tag Archives: Steam Engine

9 October 1890

Clément Ader, 1897

9 October 1890: At the Château d’Amainvilliers, near Gretz, Clément Ader’s flying machine, Éole, flew for the first time.

An inventor, Ader had recently spent months in Algeria, observing the vultures. When he returned to France he began to design and build a bat-like machine with a wing spread of 46 feet (14 meters), weighing 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms), powered by a light-weight 4-cylinder steam engine. The engine produced 20 horsepower and drove a 4-bladed tractor propeller. The machine was named for the Greek god who controlled the winds, Aeolus.

The aircraft took off under its own power, climbed to an altitude of approximately 20 centimeters (8 inches) and flew 50 meters (164 feet). The flight was witnessed by two gentlemen named Espinosa and Vallier.

On a subsequent flight, Éole flew a similar distance, but came in contact with some carts that were under its path. It overturned and was destroyed.

Clément Ader went on to build other flying machines and remained interested in flight for the remainder of his life.

L'Eole steam powered aircraft, circa 1890
Illustration of Ader’s Éole, circa 1891
Patent issued 19 April 1890
Patent 205155 issued 19 April 1890 to Clément Ader. (PHGCOM)

© 2022, Bryan R. Swopes

24 September 1852

Henri Giffard (Deveaux, 1863)
Portrait de M. Henri Giffard, ingénieur. (Jacques-Martial Deveaux, 1863)

24 September 1852: French engineer Baptiste Henri Jacques Giffard (1825–1882 ) flew his hydrogen-filled dirigible, powered be a 3-horsepower steam engine, 17 miles (27 kilometers) from the Paris Hippodrome to Trappes in about three hours. During the flight he maneuvered the airship, demonstrating control.

The Giffard Dirigible (French: “directable”) consisted of an envelope 44.00 meters (144 feet, 4 inches) in length, 10 meters (32 feet, 10 inches) in diameter, and had a volume of 2,500 cubic meters (88,300 cubic feet). The envelope was filled with coal gas. A one-cylinder steam engine fueled with coke turned a 3.3-meter (10 feet, 10 inches) diameter, three-bladed pusher propeller mounted to the underslung gondola. The steam engine weighed just 250 pounds (113 kilograms), and with the boiler and fuel, came to 400 pounds (181 kilograms).

Illustration of Giffard’s dirigible. (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes