First thought: this thing is nothing short of terriying! It’s so slow that I always feel like I’m going to stall and fall out of the sky, and no wonder. Look at the airfoil profile in the second photo. The camber and angle of incidence are just ridiculous by modern standards. This wing has to generate a hell of a lot of lift in order to get off the ground with a meager 25 horsepower. It’s like flying a more modern aircraft with the flaps set to 25 or 30 degrees all the time.
The engine sputters and pops, and quits altogether if you dare to set the throttle to idle. I could actually see the combustion in the cylinders from my seat in the cockpit. And talk about VFR: no instruments at all, not even so much as an altimeter or compass, at least not that I could see. For an aircraft that’s technically a taildragger, forward visibility is excellent, but that’s only because there’s no firewall.
The handling is also difficult, at least on my setup. Although I can get away with solely using ailerons in the other aircraft in the sim, the adverse yaw effect is very pronounced in this machine. Anyone looking to fly it would be advised to use a set of rudder pedals, because flying with the keyboard just makes the thing snake and threatens to send it into an upset.
I wouldn’t advise trying to taxi: the tailwheel doesn’t steer, so you’re relying solely on aerodynamic forces from the rudder. I also understand that in real life, it had no brakes. It would not surprise me in the slightest if standard procedure back in the day was to just walk it to the takeoff point.
I can’t even imagine how daunting an English Channel crossing in this thing would have been. I think I’d rather try to swim.
Overall, I absolutely love this abomination of an airplane. I think it’s beautifully crafted and fun to look at. Flying it is challenging and fun, and it gives me a real appreciation for the pioneers of aviation, how they accomplished so much with so little.
Nice review. I love this aircraft. Though, I don’t fly it much (for obvious reasons)… I DID do the English Channel crossing in 24 knot crosswinds. I crabbed it the entire way there. It was terrifying. And I died on landing because I tipped it over. Rest in Peace, dear old me.
Watch out ! You can take off with some rudder, but mind the rudder has be positioned neutral, it has a lot of effect in the air as well, if you leave it on left or right compensation, you will crash to the ground.
Also this is NOT a metal airplane. It is very difficult to land with Damage Assistent on Hard, because it tends to go into overstress quickly when you try to get the airplane down… also, mind that it can take only a limited roll angle. The roll angle will cause centrifugal forces that make it fall apart.
Below roll angle is about what you can do, no more…
There is only 6 years between Wright brothers and Blériot. But the quick development in the early years clearly shows ! Elevator works much better than the Wright prototype provided by Eggman, the engine is much stronger. I now think It can be landed with Damage on Hard. When I get a landing logged (1) I will post it here.
When you try putting it down, better NOT turn while descend… try flying very straight while landing, else on touchdown, it will easily tilt to the side and crash a wing.
I did land a few times with damage assistent on hard, but find it difficult to keep XI on the runway… you’ll survive and even come to a standstill… but the log (1) has modern Cessna criteria, you can’t touch the grass… clear the runway and then turn off the engine… but for Bleriot XI there is no throttle variation, engine is on or engine is off. I wonder if it can be done “properly”. Easiest way to land this thing is to switch off the engine (control-shift-E) at about 50 ft and gently glide down. There is enough velocity on landing, you don’t have flaps.
If the landing glide takes too long, switch engine back up, try lift, fly around… and try again. don’t force it down… even with engine off, it can go overstress when vertical speed exceeds a certain limit.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts - made my day!
I’m happy to see that you like our aircraft. I believe it has more to offer than what meets the eye, it really makes you appreciate things you usually don’t really think about: angle of attack, 5 knot crosswind, minimums…
Since the MS Store doesn’t currently offer a way to link any documentation, I would like to point our that you have access to a bunch of reading material! It should get installed with the aircraft and you can find it here:
Besides the simulation manual, you’ll find an original Bleriot manual from 1910 in French and a 40 page book outlining the history on the aircraft.
So thanks for your support!
(Also, I’d like to point out that Wing42 has a new website, you should check it out!)
I didn’t have a problem with throttle variation, I used full throttle for climb and around half throttle to descend. You have to think ahead with this aircraft and descend slowly, as like you say it is easy to overstress the aircraft by going too fast.
You can also blip the throttle (bind the Ignition Master Switch control), this will briefly cut the engine but you need to be careful as if you cut it for too long it may not restart. In the real world you would use the throttle cut sparingly as it stresses the engine.
Not a throttle like in your car, but a way of increasing or decreasing the amount of fuel mixture fed to the engine, in three separate steps.
There was an engine air intake pipe that used something like a ball valve to regulate the amount of air going to the engine. This was generally operated via a linkage from a handle in a “throttle quadrant” located on the left side of the cockpit. The amount of fuel going to this intake pipe was regulated by a “fine fuel” valve from the pressurized fuel tank, or from a gravity tank, to a jet inside the ball valve, where the incoming fuel was atomized. The air ball valve acted like a Venturi tube, supplying suction to help move the fuel. This “fine fuel” valve was operated by a separate handle located in or near the “throttle quadrant”. The Germans seemed to favor locating the “fine fuel” control on the control column and operating the valve by a twist knob via a Bowden(?) cable. Castor oil was carried in a separate tank and pumped from this tank thru a sight flow regulator in the cockpit to the fuel mixture feed line as it entered the crankcase.
Both air and fuel had to be increased or decreased in steps to avoid leaning or flooding, either one resulting in a dead engine. As the aircraft climbed and the air became less dense, the fuel had to be cut back to avoid flooding and a dead engine. As the aircraft descended the fuel had to be increased to avoid leaning out and a dead engine. Oil regulation didn’t seem to be quite as demanding of immediate attention as the air/fuel mix, but still necessary.
The coup button, or “blip” switch, allowed quick changes in engine speed by cutting ignition to all cylinders. On landing, for example, the engine was adjusted to take-off power then the coup button used to cut the engine for brief intervals to decrease air speed for landing. If the button was held too long the unburned fuel/oil mix would flood the engine to where it wouldn’t restart when the button was let go, and/or worst case the expelled unburned fuel mix would catch fire in the cowling.
What is described there is what exactly what we tried to match.
A more modern carburetor takes care of the engines mixture in a way that no matter if you’re idling the engine or reving it at full throttle, you’ll always have the same (more or less) fuel-to-air ratio for optimal combustion.
Neither the Anzani, nor the Gnome engine have a carburetor as we know them. The Gnome Omega 7 had essentially just those two valves, one to regulate airflow, the other to regulate the fuel. But there’s no automatic metering of the amount of fuel, so you’d have to constantly adjust those two levers to keep your engine alive at different RPM.
Also, those early internal combustion engines were often controlled through the ignition system too. If you ever get to see an old Sopwith Camel fly, you’ll hear that brrrrrrrp… brrrrrrrrp… brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp… brrrrrp… brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp. That’s the pilot switching of the ignition intermittently.
MSFS of course doesn’t provide us with a model for such a mechanism, and only know carburetors or direct injection. We modified the MSFS engine controls in a way that is a bit more closer to the original, so yes - your engine will die if you close the air valve (throttle) too much. For the most part you’d probably want to have the engine run at more or less full power anyway. On approach, set the throttle to about 50% and then use the above mentioned Master ignition switch to toggle the ignition in short intervals.
Again: check out the documentation folder - there’s some tips and tricks on how to operate the aircraft
I noticed that the aircraft doesn’t seem flyable via AI control (a problem it shares with the Aerolite 103). Is there any way as an end user that I can get it to work, or would that be dependent upon Asobo/Microsoft to improve the AI behavior?
I don’t understand why you’d want AI to fly this. You may have to adjust your expectations a little bit. That may work with default aircraft, but I GUARANTEE you when some of the more advanced aircraft come (PMDG, A2A, FSLabs), there is going to be NO WAY for AI to fly them AT ALL. Basically AI expects default Asobo systems and the second you have anything that steps away from them (the whole point of 3rd party aircraft), the AI pilot will have NO idea what to do. And I assure you, a lot of developers would never even entertain the idea of making their aircraft flyable by the AI pilot. That’s just the way it is.
This is amazing. I was so lucky to be part of a flying club many years ago, they built a flying replica of the B XI. There was only one guy with the balls to taxi it around and do little hops with it, but only on completely calm days. He said that wing warp was certain death and he only controlled the aircraft with the rudder. I don’t know if he ever really flew it. It really makes Louis Blériot’s Channel crossing all the more awe inspiring.
Edit: before you think I did anything technical or pilot-y, I was the kid cleaning up oil spills and keeping the dust of the aircraft in the hangar. And I was stinking proud of that.
I bought this a few months ago and is one of my favourite aircraft in the sim.
Start with the more powerful Gnome version before moving up to the earlier model Anzani and eventually the Anzani RIP.
control direction on takeoff with quick left and right jabs of full rudder rather than trying for finesse
once airborne you are better off using rudder to create a skid and establishing bank by yaw-roll coupling rather than just turning with stick. Again correct with jabs of rudder
climb in the anzani engine version is excruciatingly slow but it will eventually (after 10 minutes or so) get above 1000 - 2000 feet if you are patient. Do not try and climb too fast or you will just keep losing any height you achieved when you stall
until you get a feel for it you can check airspeed and climb rate by cheating and flipping to external view with the HUD enabled
Short clip of Bleriot XI (Gnome variant) buzzing the cows at Brindas (marketplace addon):
Also a (rather longish as it is so slow) clip of a take-off and landing in the Anzani RIP at Milford Sound NZ (freeware scenery addon) .
@ EdamllamaB agree with your remarks except the takeoff rudder. Go easy, don’t force it straight. I’m doing the Anzani version now. Avoid throttle max, a gradual increase will ease the gyro. Most times I tap rudder right once, just to increase radius. She’ll gently go back to the center line, without roll. The takeoff is short, so you won’t need more. Don’t forget to slightly compensate left, else you’ll do a sharp turn.
Compensate rudder too much, you see below takeoff… I had to sharply compensate the left turn… it kept going left and right for a few minutes.
Below proudly show first safe landing with the “R.I.P.” version. Landed on the runway, ended up in the grass… I did not dare to put any rudder in to correct course after touchdown.This plane has a very unstable roll, it feels wobbly. When you overdo the rudder, it can’t be compensated anymore, you tilt/roll, or… you take a dive when up. Don’t do dives with a Bleriot…