Aurel Vlaicu`s Pilot Brevet

Modern History
cardboard, paper, photographic paper, typographic ink
Printing, binding


    Text: Şerban Constantinescu; Photos: MNIR photo archive

    The brevet was issued by the International Aeronautical Federation, bearing the number 52. The document was printed in Vienna, on June 22nd 1912. On the second page of the brevet, there is the pilot’s photograph (in black and white, at a reduced scale) and his signature. On pages 3-4, in six internationally circulated languages, the following text is printed: “The agency of public force and civil and military authorities are asked to offer aid and assistance to the bearer of this brevet”.


    Aurel Vlaicu was a Romanian engineer, inventor, and pioneer of Romanian and world aviation. He was born of November 19th 1882, in Binţinţi, to a family of wealthy peasants. In his home village, he attends primary school, then moves on to the elementary school of Orăştie (1890). He attends the classes of the Reformed Kun College in Orăştie. He continues high school in Sibiu (1901), where he graduates (1902). After obtaining his high school diploma, he attends two trimesters at the Faculty of Mechanics of the Polytechnic School in Budapest (1902). He transfers to Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, obtaining his engineer diploma there (1907). During his stay in Munich, he projects his first aircraft with flapping wings, activated by springs; he abandoned this project, convinced that the future belonged to engine-powered airplanes. After working for a short time as an engineer for the OPEL Automobile Factory in Rüsselheim, Germany, he returns to his home village at the end of 1908, and there – with the help of his brother, Ion – he builds a glider plane.

    In the year 1909, on the meadow at the edge of the Bintiţii village, he performs the first flights with the Vlaicu 1909 glider, rising to heights of 10-15 m over distances of 50-100 m. In October 1909, Model no. 2 The Bug, an aircraft model powered by spinning propellers using twisted rubber cords, approx. 20 cm long (which constituted its “engine”) is presented to Spiru Haret, Minister of Education, in the Filaret Exhibition Park (today’s Carol Park) in Bucharest. The minister, together with some other important personalities of the time accompanying him, enthused by the demonstrations made by Vlaicu with The Bug model, makes an intervention with the Minister of War, who approves funds for the building of the aircraft in the Dealul Spirii Army Arsenal. Consequently, the plane Vlaicu I is built, equipped with 2 coaxial, contra rotating propellers, powered by a 50 HP Gnome rotating engine of French provenance, tested on the Traian Vuia test bed. On June 17th 1910, after a takeoff run of approx. 40 on the Cotroceni Field, the Vlaicu I plane, flown by its creator and builder, rose from the ground to a height of 3-4 m, and after floating in the air for approx. 50m, landed smoothly and safely. On this memorable day, this flight wrote into aeronautical history the name of the first Romanian engineer who invented and built the first plane in Romania. Teaching himself to fly it, Aurel Vlaicu was the first Romanian pilot who flight tested his own airplane, and in so doing, brought about the birth of Romanian aviation. Aurel Vlaicu participated in military operations, taking the “Order of operations” from Slatina to Piatra Olt (September 29th 1910), thus making Romania the second country in the world to use airplanes for military purposes (the first was France, in August 1910) On October 17th, the Ministry of War organized the “Great Aviation Meeting” at Băneasa, for the “experiences of the first Romanian Airplane invented, built, and operated by engineer Aurel Vlaicu”.

    In late 1910 – early 1911, backed by a group of enthusiastic admirers, ardent patriots, and Unification advocates such as Octavian Goga, Zaharia Bârsan, Şt. O. Iosif, Duiliu Zamfirescu, Nicolae Iorga, Victor Eftimiu, Aristizza Romanescu, Alexandru Vlahuţă, Emil Gârleanu, Ilarie Chendi, and Mihail Sadoveanu, and encouraged by the success of the Vlaicu I flights, he builds the aircraft Vlaicu II. With this aircraft, he would perform the first flight in April 1911, after which he would make a series of demonstrations in Blaj – Sibiu – Braşov – Iaşi – Cernăuţi – Arad – Lugoj – Haţeg – Orăştie – Alba Iulia – Silişte – Tg. Mureş - Dumbrăveni and Vârşeţ, becoming the first advertiser of Romanian aviation.

    On June 22nd 1912, he receives the pilot brevet no. 52, issued by the International Aeronautica Federation, after having performed two test flight on the Vlaicu II aircraft on the field at Aspen, in Austria, being the first pilot to fly on that terrain, thus inaugurating it as a contest aerodrome. Also during the summer of 1912, he participates in the International Aviation Competition in Aspen – Austria, where he demonstrates his plane’s manageability his own skill in operating it before 200.000 spectators and 45 contestants from 8 European countries, winning two 1st prizes – for close curves and target firing from a height of 300 m, and a 2nd prize for landing in a fixed spot, qualifying next to the French aviator of world renown Roland Gaross. He would participate, with the aircraft Vlaicu II, in the Bulgarian Campaign, landing on the aerodrome near the town Lucovit, where the II-nd Aviation section was located, consisting of the Air League of Aviation. It was run by retired pilot George Valentin Bibescu, who was endowed with 13 airplanes (8 Berlot models, 80 HP, with two tandem seats, 2 Berlot models, 50 HP, one seat, and 1 Berlot model, 50 HP, with two adjacent seats, and two Farman models, 70 HP, with two seats), stored in two Bessoneaux type folding hangars (for 8-10 planes) and 4 tents.

    On September 13th 1913, in an attempt to cross the Carpathian mountains in flight, in order to partake in the celebrations organized in Orăştie by ASTRA – the Transylvanian Association for the Literature and Culture of the Romanian People – and in order to convey, through this flight, a message of Romanian fraternal sentiments on Transylvanian land, for reasons unknown to this day, he crashes near Băneşti, meeting his end at the young age of 31. In order to keep his memory alive in the consciousness of the Romanian people, his home village of Bintinţi, the school of aviation in Buzău, the aviation High School in Băneasa and other high schools and streets in cities and towns across the country have been named after Aurel Vlaicu. And because through his flight, on the memorable day of June 17th 1910, he “brought about the birth of Romanian aviation”, this date has been dedicated to Romanian aviation, which is celebrated every year on the third Sunday of the month of June.