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De Havilland Biplane No. 1

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Title: De Havilland Biplane No. 1  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: De Havilland Iris, De Havilland DH.52, De Havilland Dormouse, De Havilland Swallow Moth, De Havilland DH.71 Tiger Moth
Collection: British Experimental Aircraft 1900–1909, De Havilland Aircraft, Pusher Aircraft
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

De Havilland Biplane No. 1

Biplane No. 1
Role Experimental aircraft
Manufacturer Geoffrey de Havilland
First flight December 1909
Status Destroyed
Number built 1

De Havilland Biplane No. 1 is a name applied retrospectively to the first aircraft constructed by Geoffrey De Havilland, who built and flew it once in December 1909. De Havilland undertook the project with the assistance of his flatmate (and soon to be brother-in-law) Frank Hearle, and financed the project with 1,000 borrowed from his maternal grandfather as an advance on his inheritance.

The resulting design was a three-bay biplane with an open-truss fuselage, equal-span unstaggered wings, and a four-wheeled undercarriage. Power was provided by a 45 hp (30 kW) de Havilland Iris flat-four engine[1] (custom-built by the Iris Car Company for ₤220) driving two pusher propellers mounted behind the wings. A fin and stabiliser was carried to the rear, with a large elevator at the front of the aircraft. Lateral control was provided by ailerons attached to the upper wing. De Havilland's wife, Louise, sewed the linen surfaces of the wings.

With construction continuing at Lord Carnarvon's estate at Seven Barrows by John Moore-Brabazon. De Havilland purchased them in August for ₤150 and secured Lord Carnarvon's permission to fly from his land.

By December, De Havilland and Hearle relocated the aircraft to the sheds and took rooms at a nearby inn. After ground tests, they sent the aircraft rolling down Beacon Hill with de Havilland at the controls. It became airborne briefly, covering some 100 ft (35 m) before the left wing failed, and the aircraft crashed. De Havilland's most serious injury was a blow to the wrist from one of the still-spinning propellers, received after extricating himself from the wreckage. The engine was salvaged and powered the team's next aircraft, De Havilland Biplane No. 2, which first flew in September 1910, also at Beacon Hill.


Data from Jackson 1962, p.470

General characteristics
  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 29 ft 0 in (8.84 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
  • Wing area: 408 ft2 (38.0 m2)
  • Gross weight: 850 lb (385 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × de Havilland Iris flat-4, 45 hp (30 kW)



  1. ^ The de Havilland EngineFlight magazine 21 May 1910 p.388
  • Taylor M.J.H. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation London: Studio Editions, 1989 p. 308
  • Jackson, A. J. de Havilland Aircraft since 1915. London: Putnam, 1962
  • Munson - Pioneer Aircraft 1969

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