Luis Peña may have created the most niche Lego category of all time, and there are some bloody niche ones out there already. These three marvellous contraptions from the early days of flight come from his ‘Chilean Aviation Pioneers’ album, celebrating the first men to get airborne in Chile.
The Bristol M1.C (below) was Britain’s first combat monoplane. It was also Chile’s, as Britain delivered 12 M1.Cs to the country in lieu of two battleships that Chile had ordered from the UK, but that were commandeered by the Royal Navy to fight in the First World War before they could be delivered.
In South America the M1.C became the first aircraft in history to cross the Andes Mountains, whilst in Europe it became a successful air-racer after the war, back in the days when air racing was a thing. Just one example survives today, residing in a museum in Australia.
Luis’ second Chilean Aviation Pioneer (below) is the French-made Voisin Cellular biplane, which became the first plane ever to fly in Chile when it was piloted by César Copetta in 1910, some twenty year before the formation of the Chilean airforce.
Like the Bristol above the vintage aircraft has been superbly recreated in 1:40 (roughly mini-figure) scale, including the the guide wires, spindly wheels, and wooden frame and wing struts.
Luis’ Final Chilean Aviation Pioneer is the 1909 Blériot XI (below), a French design that became the first aircraft ever to fly across the English Channel, as well as the first heavier-than-air aircraft to be used in war, when it was deployed in Africa in 1910. The Blériot also became the first military aircraft to fly in Chile, in the hands of Captain Manuel Ávalos in 1913.
As wonderfully constructed as Luis’ other aircraft there’s more to see of the Blériot XI, plus the Bristol M.1C and Voisin Cellular and Luis’ ‘Chilean Aviation Pioneers album’ on Flickr. Click the link above to go flying over Chile sometime in the early twentieth century.
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