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Poncelet Vivette

La Vivette in Lympne
In 1923, in the wake of the Castar, Paul PONCELET designed a second aircraft, this time two-seater, sponsored by Jean-Baptiste Richard, for participation in the Daily Mail competition, which was to take place in Lympne, Kent, England, on October 12 and 13, 1923.
Jean-Baptiste Richard was the representative of the Handley-Page Company in Belgium and also of the ADC Ltd (Aircraft Disposal Company) which liquidated the English planes and engines surplus from the war of 14-18. He was the first assignee of the right to install and operate an aerodrome at Saint-Hubert (Belgium) in May 1925, a right that he will cede in the following months to José ORTA (who was the owner of the aerodrome and constructor - aircraft finance).
Paul Poncelet was the head of the wood construction workshop of SABCA (Société Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aéronautiques) and the machine was built in the workshops of this company which did not hesitate to encourage its executives in technical innovation projects. in the field of aviation.
The aircraft was called Vivette, in homage to Jean-Baptiste Richard's daughter, Geneviève, who was nicknamed Vivette by her family. The Vivette is an airplane derived directly from the Castar, to which Paul Poncelet has made some significant modifications. The fuselage, thinner than that of the Castar, was shortened by about twenty centimeters, and a second station could be installed in tandem by a circular cutout in the thick wing. The fuselage is completely clad in thin plywood.
The wingspan of the cantilever wing was 1.80 meters, bringing the wing area to 24 m² so as not to increase the wing loading compared to that of the Castar single-seater. The Poncelet Vivette made its first flights in the hands of Victor Simonet at the end of the summer of 1923. and, although not quite ready, was entered by its owner JB Richard ("That very good friend of England "as said in the magazine" The Airplane "of October 17, 1923) at the Lympne competition (England) at the end of September 1923 with Lieutenant Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove as pilot. The fuselage is thinner than that of the Castar, and the lander
Structure of the Vivette's wing - Note the hole in the rear seat of the two-seater
It can be configured as a glider, single-seater or two-seater, by adding a second seat directly behind the pilot's seat, in place of the fuel tank.
But it was easily converted into a aircraft with the installation of a Sergant engine, 4 cylinders in line, 780 cc, developing a power of 17.5 hp at 3500 revolutions / minute.
In the motor version, the rear seat was removed and a fuel tank could be installed on the wing.
Structure of the front of the fuselage -The Sergant engine is in place
The British Royal Aero-Club organized in October 1923, in Lympne, Kent (England), a richly endowed competition, reserved for moto-aviettes (light planes equipped with low-power engines). Three prizes were contested: a distance competition with given consumption, a speed competition and an altitude competition.
La Vivette made its first flights in the hands of Victor Simonet at the end of the summer of 1923. The aircraft was registered O-BAFH with certificate n ° 88 dated October 1, 1923, very shortly before its departure for Lympne.
The motorized gliders of Paul Poncelet, Castar and Vivette were registered for the Lympne 1923 meeting by Jean-Baptiste Richard and J.A. de Ro, respectively, but only for the altitude competition. The Vivette went to England on its own, flying over the English Channel piloted by baron Kervyn de Lettenhove, together with the Castar piloted by Victor Simonet. Competition number 16.
But during the competition, piloted by lieutenant baron Kervyn de Lettenhove, she had no luck: she was damaged during a take-off: When he started to rise, the pilot turned slightly to the left, but at the same moment a gust of wind lifted the right wing. This caused a sudden slip and a violent shock of the left wheel. Another gust lifted the tail of the craft which ended up on its back. Fortunately, the pilot got off without injury. A special feature of these airplanes is the position of the fuel tank, which is located just behind the pilot's head, serving as protection for the latter in the event of an impact. In fact, during the accident, the tank played its protective role.
The Vivette accident on takeoff: the left wing touched the ground under the effect of a gust of wind, and the aircraft turns over, without damage to the pilot. He is brought back to the hangars still in its back position.
On the return from Lympne, two-seater flights were successfully carried out, with Victor Simonet as pilot, and Mr. Demonty, technical director of SABCA as passenger.
An article in Flight of December 27, 1923, indicates that:
"On November 26 (1923) the Belgian light monoplane Poncelet" Vivette "carried out several flights with pilot and passenger, although its engine had a displacement of less than 800 cc" The Vivette began a series of records on November 23, 1923 by making a eleven-minute flight at an altitude of twenty meters with Victor Simonet as pilot and Mr. Demonty (technical director of SABCA) as passenger:
The total weight of the machine exceeds 380 kg. With a bearing area of ​​24 sq,m, the weight per square meter is 15 kg and the weight per HP exceeds 25 kg, which is a world record.
Visit of King Albert I of Belgium - Évère Aerodrome, November 20, 1923
From left to right: Major Smeyers, King Albert Iier, Paul Poncelet, Lieutenant Simonet and Kervyn de Lettenhove.
The hood was removed, showing the Sergant engine. A plywood panel seems to have been replaced and "Vivette" has not been repainted yet?
"From a correspondent we have received the accompanying illustrations of Belgian light planes and of a visit paid by King Albert to the aerodrome to inspect these machines. This special royal visit took place on November 20, when the following four Belgian light 'planes were present : The Poncelet "Castar" type, familiar from Lympne; the Poncelet "Vivette," equally well known; the EMA biplane, designed and built by the Military Aviation School; and the Jullien SABCA monoplane, built by the Societe Anonyme Belge de Construction Aeronautique . His MAJESTY showed great interest in the construction of the machines explained to him by the various constructors, and was much impressed by the flying qualities of the different types, especially admiring the sharply-banked turns and the good speed range. "
From left to right: Major Sweyers (?), King Albert 1st, van Opstal (pilot) and Mathieu Demonty
It was in 1925, in Vauville, that the Vivette won its laurels by participating in the Experimental Congress as a glider [competition number 29]. Commander MASSAUX established a world record for the duration of flight without an engine with 10 hours 19 minutes and 43 seconds, and won the "Petit Parisien" cup for a 52-kilometer engineless flight, with 52 turns.
Duration bonus of 800 francs for each flight:
July 26, 1925: Poncelet Vivette (Cdt Massaux), 10:19:43 a.m. (world record)
July 28, 1925: Poncelet Vivette (Cdt Massaux), 2 h 3 m 15 s
August 1, 1925: Poncelet Vivette (Cdt Massaux), 4:29:21 a.m.
The Vivette in flight, glider version - Vauville 1925
The glider was donated by J.-B. Richard to the Air Museum (Brussels) in July 1926. The aircraft was cancelled by the Aeronautical Administration on January 31, 1931.
It was restored in 1995, in the workshops of Roger Poncelet (grandson of Paul), under the patronage of SABCA, on the occasion of the company's 75th anniversary. It has since been exhibited in the aviation hall of the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History in Brussels, in glider configuration.
Engine: Sergant Type A, 17.5 hp
Wingspan: 13,0 m
Wing area: 24 m2
Length: 6,30 m
Height: 1,50 m
Empty weight: 140 kg
Wing loading: 9-10 kg/m2
Max speed: 95 km/h



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