European pioneers

Although full details of the Wright Brothers' system of flight control had been published in l'Aerophile in January 1906, the importance of this advance was not recognised, and European experimenters generally concentrated on attempting to produce inherently stable machines.

Short powered flights were performed in France by Romanian engineer Traian Vuia on March 18 and August 19, 1906 when he flew 12 and 24 meters, respectively, in a self-designed, fully self-propelled, fixed-wing aircraft, that possessed a fully wheeled undercarriage. He was followed by Jacob Ellehammer who built a monoplane which he tested with a tether in Denmark on September 12, 1906, flying 42 meters.

On September 13, 1906, a day after Ellehammer's tethered flight and three years after the Wright Brothers' flight, the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont made a public flight in Paris with the 14-bis, also known as Oiseau de proie (French for "bird of prey"). This was of canard configuration with pronounced wing dihedral, and covered a distance of 60 m (200 ft) on the grounds of the Chateau de Bagatelle in Paris' Bois de Boulogne before a large crowd of witnesses. This well-documented event was the first flight verified by the AĆ©ro-Club de France of a powered heavier-than-air machine in Europe and won the Deutsch-Archdeacon Prize for the first officially observed flight greater than 25 m (82 ft). On November 12, 1906, Santos-Dumont set the first world record recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale by flying 220 m (720 ft) in 21.5 seconds. Only one more brief flight was made by the 14bis in March 1907, after which it was abandoned.


Vlaicu III
In March 1907 Gabriel Voisin flew the first example of his Voisin biplane. On 13 January 1908 a second example of the type was flown by Henri Farman to win the Deutsch-Archdeacon Grand Prix d'Aviation prize for a flight in which the aircraft flew a distance of more than a kilometer and landed at the point where it had taken off. The flight lasted 1 minute and 28 seconds.

In 1914, just before the start of World War I, Romania completed the world's first metal-built aircraft, Vlaicu III. It was captured by the Germans in 1916 and last seen at a 1942 aviation exhibition in Berlin.