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Marcel Leyat and the Plane Without Wings

Posted February 03, 2009 1:58 PM by Ron

Marcel Leyat was a French inventor who built propeller-driven cars beginning in 1913 (some 30 of them, with two still existing!) His most famous model, Hélica, was also known as "the plane without wings".

Parlez-Vous Français?

This web site has photos, references, and other information about Marcel Leyat and his propeller-driven vehicles (both cars and aircraft) One such automobile was still in running condition about six years ago, and was demonstrated at Goodwood Race Track in the U.K. The Web site is in French; the English section seems to have some problems, and most linked articles are not available that way.

Leyat's cars had rear-wheel steering, and his planes had tilting wings. If I read it right, he was attempting to make the airplanes stall-proof. Can anyone translate "incapotable"?

The picture above (top left) is the 1921 Leyat Hélica "Sport" model. It appears to have been revised several times, losing the horizontal stabilizer in one rebuild, having a windshield added (for the rear-seat passenger only!), and so on. Apparently, it advertised a crème or lotion called "La Gellicyne" ("For the Hands. For the Face") at some point. That advertising is still on it today in a museum.

Aérophile Images

Marcel Leyat's airplanes seem to be at least as bizarre as his cars. It appears that the entire wing structure, a pair of trusses flanking the fuselage, and the pair of elevators mounted to the trusses, all pivot as a unit relative to the fuselage. A set of angled struts come together there. Pictures of other Leyat designs include very similar features; some are shown in two positions in adjacent photos. The pivot point appears to be at the center of mass of the aircraft. These two were published in Aérophile in 1924.

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Ron Darner for sharing this story. A longtime CR4er, Ron is also the newsletter editor for Chapter 320 (Watertown, Wisconsin) of the Experimental Aircraft Organization (EAA). If you'd like to subscribe to Ron's newsletter, click here to send him a private message on CR4.

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#1

Re: Marcel Leyat and the Plane Without Wings

02/04/2009 9:53 AM

No safety concerns here.

Imagine if a bird, or the neighbours dog went through that fan. Yuck!

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#3
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Re: Marcel Leyat and the Plane Without Wings

02/04/2009 12:04 PM

"Imagine if a bird . . . went through that fan." In related news, US Airways has announced availability of two new in-flight entrees: goose, and fish.

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#4
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Re: Marcel Leyat and the Plane Without Wings

02/04/2009 12:20 PM

"But Officer, he was jaywalking!"

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#2

Re: Marcel Leyat and the Plane Without Wings

02/04/2009 10:05 AM

What a cool car!

(I love puns.)

Good experimentation should occaisionally wander into the surreal.

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