After lunch today I wanted to watch something while I digested the pork ribs, bratwurst, coleslaw, baked beans and all the other trimmings of the household Fourth of July celebration.
I pulled out a DVD, not exactly at random. It was Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (or how I flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes) which I first saw in the cinema with my parents at the very start of my aviation craze. There were always a couple of aircraft in that movie which never failed to get my attention – the Bristol Boxkite (apparently masquerading as a Curtiss) and the rather lovely Demoiselle flown by the french entrant (played by Jean-Pierre Cassel) in the fictional London – Paris air race.
I have to say I never realized until now that this rather lovely machine was not a figment of someone’s imagination – it was a real contemporary design by none other than Alberto Santos-Dumont. That explains quite a lot really.
It has the characteristics of an ultralight with a certain turn-of-the-century charm you associate with Santos-Dumont designs. There seem to be a number of replicas around the world, and happily an original is preserved at the Musée de l’air et de l’espace at Le Bourget, France. I find the wing-mounted radiators for the flat twin Darracq engine rather interesting.