Reproductions of two early Free Flight record setters are now part of the museum’s collection thanks to the research of museum director Michael Smith and the research and building efforts of museum volunteer Terry Hreno.
Although C. Fleming-Williams, along with W.G. Aston, are often credited with designing the first A-frame twin pushers (in 1909) Fleming-Williams’ 1911 distance model is actually a T-frame twin pusher. The model, which has a central stick fuselage – measuring 54 inches – with a tapered nose and triangular tail. For all that length, the kidney bean shaped wing has only a 16 inch wingspan. Wires strung along struts on the frame prevent the fuselage from bending due to the tension of the wound motors. This model set a world record for distance, flying 2,600 feet in 1911.
C. Fleming-Williams was an officer in the British Royal Naval Air Force. His artwork on operations during WWI can be found in the collections of the Imperial War Museum.
New Yorker Cecil Peoli is credited with perfecting the A-frame twin pusher design. In July 1911, Peoli set an American distance record of 1,691 feet 6 inches. In September he set a duration record of 48- 4/5 seconds. Holding both records made Peoli well-known; his name appeared in newspapers as well as magazines such as Aircraft, Aeronautics and the UK’s Flight. Ideal Model & Supply Co. kitted the model in 1912; it was available for sale until 1930. The main feature of the model is the pointed wing. Of course, many of the early publications about the model, for instance, A.H. Verrill’s Harper’s Aircraft Book of 1913 spend a great deal of time of talking about carving the prop and properly connecting it to the shaft and motor.
Cecil Peoli started Peoli Airplane Company in 1915 before dying while piloting a full-scale airplane of his own design.
Both models are now on display near the museum gallery’s entrance.
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