A brief history of Felix du Temple

By Willie Bodenstein


In 1874 a French naval officer Félix du Temple designed and build a large aircraft made of aluminium. The du Temple monoplane had a wingspan of 13 m (43 ft) and weighed of only 80 kg (180 lb) without the pilot.

The aircraft used a very compact, high-speed circulation steam engine for which Félix du Temple applied for a patent on 28 April 1876. The engine used very small pipes packed together "to obtain the highest possible contact surface for the smallest possible volume. This type of boiler, which boils the water instantly, has come to be known as a flash boiler. The engine design was later adopted by the French Navy for the propulsion of the first French torpedo boats:

Several trials were made with the aircraft, and it is generally recognized that it achieved lift-of
f from a combination of its own power and running down an inclined ramp it, according to a news report of the day staggered briefly into the air and glided for a short time and returned safely to the ground, making it the first successful powered flight in history though not the first self-powered one.

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