The Bleriot XI


Bleriot IX (Note Wing Tips)

Bleriot XI

Bleriot XI

Grahame White's Bleriot

Bleriot in his Model XII
1908 - Dambron, France

Bleriot XI in Flight

Bleriot XI in Flight

Bleriot Takeoff

Bleriot XI - 2 View

Bleriot XI - Front View

Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome's Bleriot XI

Thulins Type A (Bleriot XI)

Ernest Hall No.1 (Bleriot XI)

Other Surviving Bleriot XI's

A refinement of the earlier Bleriot VIII, the Bleriot XI successfully carried Louis Bleriot across the English Channel to capture the Daily Mail's prize. This fame combined with the airplanes own merits made it the most common aircraft of it's day. The Bleriot sold for 12,000 Francs in a day when an Antoinette cost 25,000 and a Wright 30,000. The first 100 aircraft were sold within three months of the successful channel crossing. Five hundred aircraft were produced within two years including 175 of the French Air Forces 249 airplanes. It is likely that by 1911 there were more Bleriots than all other makes combined. Many more aircraft were produced under license as well as many copies. Bleriot factory organizations were set up in both England and Italy.

The Bleriot Flying School modified or specially produced a number of model XI derivatives with clipped wings and/or low power engines. These flightless birds were dubbed Penguins and used for teaching control of the engine as well as ground handeling. When a student had mastered these basics they were promoted to airplanes that were capable of flight. This teaching method was used by the French schools throughout the First World War.

In addition to demonstrating the utility of the airplane through long distance flights, the Bleriot was used for much early experimentation. Among the many experiments was a scheme developed for the French Navy where a Bleriot took off and landed from an 80 meter long wire stretched between two towers. When the airplane was ready to fly it unhooked from the wire. The tests were successfull but no orders were placed, possibly due to the close calls that surely resulted when dodging the down field tower. The Bleriot was also the platform used in early parachute experiments. More notably a Bleriot with a strengthened and heightened kingpost demonstrated upside down flying and looped the loop. These feats must have been incredible in a day when a gentle turn or glide was considered a daring maneuver.


Span (Dover-Calais Configuration)           23 ft 7-1/2 in
Span (interm configuration)                     25 ft 7 in
Span (final configuration)                  27 ft 6-3/4 in
Chord                                               6.5 ft
Wing Area (original)                           129.2 sq ft
Wing Area (interm configuration)               139.9 sq ft
Wing Area (final configuration)                150.7 sq ft
Rudder Area                                      4.5 sq ft
Stabilator Area                                   16 sq ft
Keel Area                                         17 sq ft
Incidence Angle                                      7 deg

Powerplant 3 cylinder Anzani (23 hp) or 7 cylinder Gnome (50 hp) Propeller 6.87 ft (dia) x 2.7 ft

Empty Weight 650 to 720 lb

Cruise Speed 36 mph (Anzani) 48 mph (Gnome)

Rate of Climb 236 fpm Per cent of total horsepower employed in climb 16.6%

Glide Speed 52 mph Gliding Angle 5.3:1 Gliding Resistance 280 lb

Drag at 60 mph 104.76 lb Price (introduction) 10,000 Francs Price (Calais-Dover Model 1909) 12,000 Francs

Construction of the Calais-Dover Model

Fuselage: Constructed of 4 Sitka Spruce longerons braced with piano wiere anchored to a patented u-bolt pattern. The assembled fuselage weighed 45 lbs.

Wings: Constructed of 2 spars (76mmx19mm), 3 stringers, a rigid leading edge and a trailing edge all made from Sitka Spruce. Ribs were of built up construction made from ash. The wing was cable braced with the outer warping for control.

Empennage: The horizontal stabilizer consisted of a fixed centersection with pivoting tips that function as elevators. The tips are linked by a torque tube that is actuated by a bellcrank. An all flying rudder provided yaw control. There is no fixed vertical fin.

Gear: Conventional gear featuring independently sprung wheels. Each wheel was designed to swivle about a vertical axis located forward of the wheel. The wheels were joined such that they could spring independently, but castored together. Thus, the carriage castored allowing it to aline itself with the direction of travel. The uprights were constructed of ash with tubular steel cross members. A small castoring wheel in the rear supported the tail. Some versions replaced the tailwheel with a telescoping spring.

Powerplant: Anzani engine with Chauviere 2 blade laminated walnut propeller. 6.87 ft Propeller Disk. Weight of prop: 9.9 lbs

Controls: A yoke mounted atop a control column and a rudder bar.

Bleriot XI Links

The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome - Has a flying 1909 Bleriot XI
The Smithsonian (NASM) - Has a Bleriot
The Army Aviation Museum - Has a Bleriot
The USAF Museum - Has a Bleriot XI
A Bleriot XI Replica Page
Fiddler's Green - Bleriot XI Page