Updated: Nov 10, 2021
The conventional (light) aircraft configuration as we now know it today was unveiled to the public on this day in aviation in 1907. It was the Blériot VII designed by French aviator and aircraft inventor Louis Bleriot (1872 - 1936) with;
a moveable tailplane
an enclosed fuselage
an engine mounted in the nose of the aircraft
a pull propellor configuration
The Bleriot VII was the successor of the Blériot VI that had a tandem wing.
It featured the first known application of what we now call Elevons, the tail surfaces could move independently to provide roll control and move together to provide pitch control. Before revealing the aircraft Blériot had already performed taxi trials, this revealed serious control issues on the ground, even leading to the failure of the Landing Gear.
To overcome the issue with the landing gear it was redesigned using a castering trailing arm with bungees providing suspension. The first flight was made on the 16th of November, a distance of 1600 ft (500 meters) was covered. More flights followed before major modifications were made at the end of November, among others the wing was relocated.
A successful test flight was made with the modified aircraft on the 6th of December 1907, so successful that Blériot even managed to make a U-Turn in flight. On one of the subsequent test flights on the 18th of December, the aircraft was destroyed when the left wheel collapsed causing the wingtip to dig in and the aircraft to flip over, Blériot escaped without serious injury. Specifications fo the Bleriot VII;
Length: 9 m (29 ft 6 in)
Wingspan: 11 m (36 ft 1 in)
Wing area: 25 m2 (270 sq ft)
Gross weight: 425 kg (937 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Antoinette V-8 water-cooled piston engine, 37 kW (50 hp)
Number built: 1