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European Motorcycles

Aviation and Motorcycles

Exploring the technical and social aspects of the relationship between motorcycling and flying


A

ABC

Designed by Granville Bradshaw and built by the Sopwith aviation company from 1919 at Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. They were also built by an aviation firm in France, Gnome et Rhone.

Argus Motorengesellschaft

Founded in 1901 as a motor vehicle firm, under the Argus name they produced an extensive range of engines for the fledgling aviation industry beginning around 1906.


Aermacchi

Aeronautica Macchi was founded in 1912 by Giulio Macchi. They built a wide range of aircraft over the ensuing 9 decades.


Ader

The Ader motorcycles were designed and built at a factory in Levallois-Perret, Seine by Clement Ader, an aviation pioneer


Anzani

Alessandro Anzani was an aviation pioneer whose engines were employed in many famous motorcycles.

Ernest Archdeacon's exploits in aviation are the stuff of legend: he built gliders and aeroplanes, he was a hot-air balloonist, and he was instrumental in the advancement of aviation in France. He offered a prize for the first 1km flight around a circuit of 50,000 francs - the equivalent of 20 years salary for the average French worker.

Archdeacon


Advance Motor Manufacturing Co. Ltd of Northampton produced Advance motorcycles, tricars and forecars. Advance also supplied engines to various leading edge projects such as Scott's motorised sledges trialled in Norway, Handley Page's Blue Bird monoplane and the Oakington monoplane built by Grose and Feary.

Aubier-Dunne

The firm also built aviation engines including inverted two-stroke twins and triples used in light aircraft.


Avia

Spanish firm built motocarri trucks and aircraft.


Avro Monocar 1926

Pioneer aviator Sir Alliott Verdon Roe designed and built this prototype and rode it many thousands of miles...


B

Douglas Bader
In his biography Reach for the Sky Bader writes of riding home from the pub on his Douglas with three other Hurricane pilots aboard, and being stopped by police. He was legless, but he got away with it.¹


Bentley

W. O. Bentley, Motorcycle Racing, and the Bits That Go Up and Down.

Bentley, of Australian parentage, was one of the first (possibly *the* first) to adopt alloy pistons in his racing motorcycles, and later convinced Rolls-Royce to use them in their aircraft engines. Bentley became Mr Fixit for all things aviation...


BMW


Bradshaw, Granville


Bleriot
Louis Bleriot was the first to cross the English Channel by aeroplane. After WWI he built motorcycles, and the first French police motorcycle squad used his machines.


C

Campell

Sir Malcolm Campbell (1885-1949)

English automobile and speedboat racer. A racing enthusiast from boyhood, Campbell set many speed records for motorcycles, aeroplanes, automobiles and power boats, and in 1931 was knighted for his accomplishments. Driving his famed automobile Bluebird at Bonneville Flats, Utah, in 1935, Sir Malcolm was the first to reach the 300 mph (483 kph) mark. He then turned to speedboat racing and in 1939 set a new record of 141 miles per hour. Donald Campbell was his son.

Source: The Columbia Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition. 2000.


Caproni

Aero-Caproni, famous Italian aircraft manufacturer. Their NSU-powered motorcycles, the Caproni Vizzola, shared their name with a range of Caproni gliders, one of which was jet-powered. These sailplanes achieved numerous world records.


Chaise

The factory also produced a variety of horizontally-opposed fours for nautical and aviation use.


Clement-Gladiator

Adolphe Clément-Bayard was the first to cross the English Channel by airship


Glenn Curtiss


D

Dax
Established by former pilot Pierre de Font-Réaulx


Roald Dahl
A respected author of children's books and perhaps best known for the stories in the TV series Tales of the Unexpected, Dahl survived, against impossible odds, a series of hair-raising battles as a Hurricane pilot during WW2. He mentions his motorcycle experiences in either Boy or Going Solo.


De Havilland


Dedics of Hungary


Dufaux

The Dufaux brothers were both pioneer aviators. They founded Motosacoche


E

Ellehammer

Jacob Ellehammer's first three-cylinder engine for his aeroplane (homebuilt using cylinders and heads from the Peugeot-Freres engines of his motorcycle) built in the early years of the 20th century still exists, and is started regularly at the Elsinore Technical Museum in Denmark. It is considered the mother of all radial-engines.

Ellehammer built all manner of contraptions including a helicopter which flew in 1912, and a powered hang-glider six decades before anyone could tell you what on earth that was.

http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/ellehammer.html


Esnault-Pelterie


F

Farman

Henri Farman coined the term aileron. The Farman brothers built more than 200 types of aircraft, at least two of which took part in the 1932 Tour de France des avions de tourisme.


Flottweg Aviation company Otto-Werke AG of Munich introduced the first Flottweg motorcycle in 1921.


Fongri

The firm was involved in aviation, producing a variety of aircraft.


G

GCS George Cyril Stillwell created a string of motor dealerships selling Jaguar and BMW. He was also involved in aviation in no small manner, becoming president of Learjet in the United States.


Gnome Rhone

... ceased motorcycle production towards the end of the 1950s. The company continued in the aviation industry and built engines for military and civilian aircraft including Mirage, Boeing and ...


Grade, Hans.
Hans Grade was one of Germany's first aviators. He was the builder of Grade motorcycles.


Givaudan



H

Hawker

Harry Hawker built motorcycles in the 1920s, and established an aviation company which later built the Hawker Hurricane.


Heinkel

Hildebrand & Wolfmüller - Alois Wolfmülier was an aviation pioneer

Hirth

Horex

Horex began with the purchase of Columbus-Motorenbau AG, a subsidiary of Columbus Flugmotorenbau, builder of engines for the Fokker Dr-1 flown by von Richthofen during the Great War.

Hiro
Motocross rider Andrea Mosconi built the Hiro sport aviation engine of 23hp.


HRD

HRD was founded by Howard Raymond Davies, an RAF pilot who was shot down and captured by the Germans in 1917. The story goes that whilst a prisoner of war that he conceived the idea of building his own motorcycle.


J

Janoir

Louis Janoir, born 1883, was a pioneer aviator who obtained his pilot's licence in 1911.


K

Kingsbury were scooters and motorcycles produced from 1919 to 1923, by aircraft builders in Croydon, Surrey. The machines were sold by London and Midland Motors of London W1.


Krieger-Gnadig


L

Levis

Butterfield built an aircraft powered by a an inverted inline five cylinder two-stroke Levis engine in 1912. It clipped a goal post on the playing fields it was using as an airstrip on its first takeoff, and was wrecked.


Low
Professor Archibald Low, Rocket Scientist

The Rocket Man


Lutz ... relating to jet engines and two-stroke engine technology, and became a respected figure in aviation research.


M

Messerschmitt


MGC

The Stork logo is derived from the WWI Escadrille des Cigognes Spad squadron with which Joseph-Henri Guiguet (Légion d'Honneur) had flown. He and his brother Marcel founded the MGC company which produced the N34 motorcycle with an inverted inline four cylinder engine of similar configuration to the Tiger Moth.


Moreau

Jules Albert & André Moreau of Chantenay-Saint-Imbert (Nievre) were pioneer aviators.


Moto-Cardan

Émile Robion of E.R. was an aviation pioneer.


Moto Guzzi

...the men who founded the company were WWI pilots


Motosacoche

Simultaneously with the expansion of their motorcycle business, the brothers Dufaux directed their personal attention to building airplanes and helicopters. As early as 1904 they built model helicopters and planes with variable-tilt propellers, and invented the concept of the 'VTOL' airplane. Their helicopter of 1905 was the first powered aircraft of any type in the world to successfully fly, and was demonstrated for Louis Bleriot (who also made motorcycles), Alberto Santos-Dumont, Clement Ader, Henri Farman, Gabriel Voisin, Captain Ferber, etc; all founders of European aviation. The Dufaux brothers tasted success in airplane flight in 1909, becoming the first Swiss plane to fly with a pilot aboard.

Muller, Italy

... terminated motorcycle activities in 1979 and began designing and building gliders and ultralight aircraft.

MV Agusta


N

Norman

Charles and Fred Norman of Norman Cycles Limited. Fred had been a fighter pilot in the First World War. Fred presented Guy Gibson, the leader of 617 Squadron on the Dambuster Raids, with a motorcycle to ride at his airbase at RAF Scampton. 


Nut

"In spite of the thrills and excitement aviation offers, Lt. Owen Edmunds, who made the first official mail flight between London and Paris, still retains his affection for the motor cycle. His mount is a 5-6 h.p. overhead valve N.U.T.-J.A.P., with three-speed hub gear.

Lt Edmunds has made over 200 Channel flights."
Credit: The Motor Cycle


O

Opel

Opel also built a rocket-powered car, and a rocket powered glider!

Orionette

Engelbert Zaschka of Orionette designed and built a helicopter in the 1920s.

P

Pearson & Sopwith

Tom Sopwith built the Sopwith Camel.


Peters

J. A. Peters (t/a Peter Motors), an aircraft designer, produced motorcycles from 1920 to 1925.


Piaggio

Piaggio, parent company of Vespa and Gilera, is a multinational aerospace manufacturing company, best known perhaps for its twin turboprop Avanti.


Puma

Puma motorcycles were built by the same company in Argentina which manufactured a variety of aircraft including fighter jets.


R

Ratier built wooden aeroplane propellors. They now make components for Airbus and other aircraft.
Ratier


RC Cross

Cross components have been employed in the engines used on the Concorde


Redrup

Charles Redrup was a Welshman who had a background in aviation. The firm developed engines for the likes of Avro, Vickers, Crossley and Bristol. During WWII he was involved in secret squirrel stuff developing the bouncing bomb used by the Dam Busters.


Ricardo
Harry Ricardo was building tank engines for the UK military at the age of 19. He developed a love of aviation, and the firm he created was integral in the development of the history-making Voyager aircraft which flew around the world non-stop in 1986. His name is celebrated in the motorcycle world for the the 4-valve Ricardo Triumph.


Norbert Riedel, designer of the Imme. Junkers Motorenbau GMBH commissioned him in 1941 to design a simple 2-stroke engine to be used as a fresh-air blower/cooler for the Jumo 004 Jet engine then being designed. It was used until the end of the war. (JF)


Rotax Motor Accessories (UK)
Lucas decided to concentrate manufacture of equipment for the heavier types of vehicles in C. A. Vandervell and Co and to develop Rotax for the manufacture of equipment for aircraft.

This firm is not believed to be associated with Rotax of Austria.


S

Scootavia

André Morin had been designing aircraft since his teens and was in aviation design during the war, returned to that passion and subsequently built light aircraft ...


Sheffield-Henderson

Sheffield-Henderson were motorcycles designed by Leonard B. Henderson, an aeronautical engineer.


Beatrice "Tilly" Shilling

Beatrice Shilling was an accomplished rider who fettled her own machines and is best remembered in the motorcycle world as one of only three women to achieve the magic ton at Brooklands.

An aeronautical engineer, she also has a place in aviation history as the inventor of a device which saved many lives. Fitted to Spitfires and Hurricanes, the invention prevented the severe flooding to which Merlin engines were prone during negative G manoeuvres, making the smiting of the nimble Messerschmitt problematical during the Battle of Britain. Officially named the R.A.E. restrictor, her solution was celebrated by the RAF lads as Tilly's Orifice.


Stanger

David Stanger was a pioneer of aero-modelling.

http://cdmfc.org/archives/sep05/davidstangermod.html

T

Thulin

Enoch Thulin was a Swedish aviation pioneer.



V

Vespa

The designer of the Vespa was Corradino D'Ascanio, who designed helicopters in the 1930s.


Vincent

During WWII the Vincent HRD company built components for the De Haviland Mosquito, and post-war they developed a V-Twin engine named the Picador for the ML U120D drone project.

W

Wassell

The company was founded by World War II pilot Ted Wassell. The Wassell company site says "The original W E Wassell Limited was established in 1946 by W E (Ted) Wassell after being de-mobbed from the Navy in 1945. The Company was incorporated in April 1956."



Notes
1. Actually, Bader seldom drank. (warfarehistorynetwork.com, Life magazine, go2war.nl).



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