Roe I Triplane (Avro Triplane)
Avro Triplane replica G-CFTF in Duxford AirSpace hangar. Photo by Ian Bracegirdle
The Roe I Triplane, more commonly known as the Avro Triplane was the first all-British aircraft to fly. The early built biplane (built by Avro) had a French engine. The Roe I Triplane had a triplane tail as well as the triplane wing. Alliott Verdon Roe wanted to use steel for most of the structure of the aircraft, but wood was used due to lack of money and the fuselage and wings were paper-covered. The Roe I Triplane could reach speeds of up to 25mph (40 km/h).
Roe nicknamed the aircraft 'The Blues' after the braces manufactured by his brother's firm, which helped pay for it. On 5th June 1909 Roe made a few flights across the Walthamstow Marshes (known as hops) in a Roe I Triplane, this was the first all-British powered flight. The wings of the aircraft were damaged during these few attempts, but Roe managed to restore the aircraft back to an airworthy condition.
Avro Triplane replica G-CFTF in Duxford AirSpace hangar
Avro Triplane replica and Bristol Boxkite replica at Old Warden Air Show 2009
Images courtesy of Ian Bracegirdle and Colin Sayce - Airshowphotomania.ifp3.com
On 13th July, Roe made a flight of 100ft (30m) and ten days later a flight of 900ft (280m). Roe upgraded the aircraft from the original 6 hp (5 kW) JAP motorcycle engine to a 24 hp (18 kW) Antoinette engine. With the addition of the new, more powerful engine Roe was able to pilot the aircraft on several short flights at the Blackpool Meeting in October. Shortly after it was damaged far beyond repair in a crash at Wembley on 24th December.
Roe constructed three more Roe I Triplanes to the same design but with even larger JAP engines. On 12th July 2009 an event was held on the Walthamstow Marshes to commemorate the first all-British flight under the support of the Royal Aeronautical Society, several generations of Roe's family attended the event. A new historic marker was unveiled on the northern entrance to Roe's former workshops in the railway arches.
One example is preserved at the Science Museum in London.
The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester displays a full-scale replica, which was made by apprentices in 1952 to resemble the original aircraft as it appeared in 1909 at the Blackpool Aviation Meeting.
(Shown left - photo Ian Bracegirdle)