Replica of 100 year old Triplane hits the runway at RAF Woodvale

Caelainn Barr | 27 October 2009
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Triplane replica being brought to the runway at early morning

(Above) The attempted flight took place at RAF Woodvale on 26 October. Courtesy: Chris Foster

One hundred years ago, Salford-born, Alliott Verdon-Roe became the first British pilot to construct and fly a Triplane. This week the Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and the Roe Heritage Group brought history to life by attempting (and failing) to fly a replica of the historic aircraft.

On 26 October, hang glider world-champion, Judy Leden, attempted to fly the three-winged aeroplane at RAF Woodvale, outside Formby in Merseyside. Leden said of the feat, “It was a great privilege to be asked to pilot this beautiful replica of such an important historic British flying machine.”

Triplane taxis down runway

(Above) The attempted flight took place at RAF Woodvale on 26 October. Courtesy: Chris Foster

The first Triplane was built in 1908 in France. A.V. Roe built a similar model in England the following year, using bicycle wheels and cotton-backed oiled paper amongst other things.

On his first successful flight he reached 100ft, becoming the first English man to fly a powered aircraft. Over time the aircraft went through many modifications and was eventually used in World War I.

The modern Triplane replica, completed over three years ago by a team of volunteers working at MOSI, was constructed to be as close to the original 1909 blueprint as possible.

Built by a team of ex-aviation employees, some of who had worked for Avro, one of the world’s first aeroplane building companies set up by Roe in Manchester in 1910. The project was also sponsored by A.V.Roe's grandson Eric Verdon-Roe.

Nick Forder, transport curator said, “The MOSI team has worked tirelessly in recent months to recreate the Triplane. "Roe’s flight put this Salford man in the forefront of British aviation and his company, Avro, is still here today as part of BAE Systems.”

Volunteers with Triplane replica

(Above) Volunteers helped to construct the Triplane replica. Some of the team were ex-Avro employees, the same company set up by the creator of the plane, A.V. Roe, in 1910. Courtesy: Chris Foster

Unfortunately although the plane did taxi down the runway, it didn’t manage to become airborne on this occasion. Mike Taylor, who led the team of volunteers, commented, "Power to weight ratio has been our nemesis and we see how difficult it must have been for A.V. Roe in his day."

Hang glider world champion Judy Leden with Triplane replica

(Above) Hang gliding world champion, Judy Leden, attempted to fly the replica. Courtesy: Chris Foster

The plane has now returned to MOSI and hopefully will be on display at the museum in the near future.

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