The 14bis Replica
The 14bis is very famous in Brazil but little known over here. 14bis was the 14th design by Santos Dumont , a Brazilian who lived in France. 14bis was the first heavier than air device to take off from the ground under its own power. We were tasked with making a full size replica of 14bis. We had to undertake a lot of research to find out information about 14bis which was to include a level of detail suitable for HD TV broadcast to the world. Finding suitable materials was a challenge as the main fuselage construction was bamboo. We substituted bamboo for aluminium scenically painted to look the past.
The covering material was originally Japanese silk but this would not have had the properties required by the specification so we used a substitute material printed to give a similar aged look. The cockpit was a basket and we had this faithfully reproduced by a basket maker in Scotland using willow. The wheels were an interesting one as we could not use a bicycle wheel as these were not suitable for the loads so we ended up using front wheels from a Yamaha 125 motorcycle purchased from Ebay. The control for the canard was a wheel rim from a child’s bicycle.
We further fabricated a V8 engine block and fitted a battery operated 24v motor with control for on off and speed which connected to a drive shaft to a bespoke propeller with a safety system designed to stop the propeller rotation should someone put their arm in the way.
This whole piece had to be built on the field of play in front of the worlds cameras. No pressure then!