Aurel Vlaicu - Romanian Icarus above the Carpathians
Aurel Vlaicu – Romanian
Icarus above the Carphatians
In a sunny day of spring, the son of Dumitru and Ana Vlaicu from
Bintini village, near Orastie, Hunedoara County, had arrived in
Munchen to attend the prestigious Polytechnic University. It was the
beginning of a brilliant dream of a young Romanian who wrote history
in Aeronautics. Unfortunately, poorly known by today's generations,
Aurel Vlaicu didn't hesitate to pay with his own youth and life to turn
his dream into reality!
Aurel Vlaicu was brave, even
defiant, modest, ambitious
dreamer, talented, patriotic,
grateful and, above all, creative.
He performed the first flight in
Romania, with a heavier than air
He had a temperamental behavior which brought him trouble
since high school. In 1902 he studied at the State High school
from Sibiu, then for 2 years he attended the Faculty of Mechanics
in the Polytechnic School from Budapest.
He enrolled as a volunteer in the Navy, doing military service in
the city of Pula, which is an Adriatic Sea port, today in Croatia.
He obtained his engineer diploma after graduating prestigious
Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.
Right after graduation, he worked for a short time as an engineer
for the famous Opel car factory. However, Aurel Vlaicu was not
satisfied. His strong character made him not to accept the
comfortable destiny of a respected engineer at Opel Factory.
Aurel Vlaicu came back to Transylvania in 1908. A year
later he built his first glider, with the help of his brother,
Ion. He managed to perform several flights with this glider
in Bintinti, his home village, in the summer of 1909.
Later that year he moved to Bucharest in the Kingdom of Romania, where
he began the construction of his airplane Vlaicu I, the famous aircraft that
flew for the first time on June 17, 1910 over Cotroceni airfield.
Vlaicu wrote History. Due to his facts and activity, Aurel Vlaicu
placed Romania on the second place in the world, after France, in
using planes with military purpose. A year later, the engineer
Vlaicu built a second plane, the famous Vlaicu II, which has flew
in numerous cities of the kingdom, giving him the chance to
present his new invention to the whole world.
His own succes didn’t stop here. Aurel Vlaicu took part
in the war in Bulgaria and he performed observations
and spying missions from his plane.
In 1913 the English
company Marconi decided
to launch a new project
asking Aurel Vlaicu to
draw and build a metallic
plane, which had two seats.
The Romanian engineer
started working and in a
few months he finished his
masterpiece, which had the
name Vlaicu III. His genius
mind delivered a precious
invention for mankind
which represented the first
functional plane in the hole
world entirely built from
His intention was to participate in the Astra Fest near Orastie in order to
salute the Romanian people from Ardeal/Transylvania. His attempt didn’t
follow the plan and everything went terribly wrong.
The inventor took off from Bucharest, landed without any troubles in
Ploiesti for refueling and took off again. His plane crashed in Banesti, near
Campina. The officials went there, made an investigation and found that
the cause of the crash was Vlaicu’s health. During the flight he suffered a
heart attack and he couldn’t control the plane, therefore he crashed. The
whole nation was in shock because a great engineer died from a young
His funeral took place in the Bellu cemetery
from Bucharest. From the report written by
the lieutenant Gheorghe Negrescu , the first
man arrived at the place of the accident, the
face of the hero was relaxed, Aurel Vlaicu
had smiled in the face of death.
Vlaicu is the prototype of the inventor who shown his skill since childhood, he was
famous in his village and then in the secondary schools he attended, for all kinds of
'inventions' he designed and for his crafts that flew with an amazing ingenuity. Among
all his technical passions, the one who stood the most in his heart was making aircrafts.
During his short career, Vlaicu built three original, arrow-shaped airplanes. All his
planes had flight controls in front, two coaxial propellers, National Advisory Committee
for Aeronautics-like ring around the engine, and tricycle-landing gear with independent
suspension and brakes.
At the time of his death, a two-seated monoplane Vlaicu III, contracted by Marconi
Company for experiments and with aerial wireless radio, was only partially built. After
Vlaicu’s death, the plane was completed by his friends Giovanni Magnani and
Constantin Silişteanu, and several short experimental flights were made during 1914.
Further tests were hindered by the unusual controls of the airplane which no other pilot
was familiar with. In 1916, during the German occupation of Bucharest, Vlaicu III was
seized and shipped to Germany. The airplane was last seen in a 1942 during the
exhibition of aviation which took place in Berlin.
Vlaicu was posthumously elected as a member of the
Romanian Academy in 1948.
The second largest airport in Romania is named
after him: The Aurel Vlaicu International Airport. A
museum was established in his home village. The 50
Romanian Lei banknote has a portrait of Vlaicu on
the obverse, and on the reverse there is a drawing of
one of his airplanes and a cross-section of its Gnome
“No sign of fear was on his face. A gentle smile was petrified on
his lips and the face was bright with a holly expression of
quietness. This represented his accomplished duty that he loved
so much.” This is a quote from Gheorghe Negrescu’s book
written in his memory.
Last year, on the 19 th of November 2012, the world
celebrated 130 years from Aurel Vlaicu’s birth, the
Romanian engineer, inventor, airplane constructor, pilot,
pioneer of Romanian aviation, creator of three unique-shaped
aerodynamic planes known as “Vlaicu I”, “Vlaicu II” and