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A monoplane is an aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane or triplane. Since the late 1930s it has been the most common form for a fixed wing aircraft.


Types of monoplane

The main distinction between types of monoplane is where the wings attach to the fuselage:

  • low-wing, the wing lower surface is level with (or below) the bottom of the fuselage
  • mid-wing, the wing is mounted mid-way up the fuselage
  • shoulder-wing, the wing is mounted above the fuselage middle
  • high-wing, the wing upper surface is level with or above the top of the fuselage
  • parasol-wing, the wing is located above the fuselage and is not directly connected to it, structural support being typically provided by a system of struts, and, especially in the case of older aircraft, wire bracing.


Probably the first monoplane was the Monoplane built in 1874 by Felix du Temple de la Croix, a large plane made of aluminium in Brest, France, with a wingspan of 13 meters and a weight of only 80 kilograms (without the pilot). Several trials were made with the plane, and it is generally recognized that it achieved lift off under its own power after a ski-jump run, glided for a short time and returned safely to the ground, possibly making it the first successful powered flight in history, depending on the definition — since the flight was only a short distance and a short time, and was not truly under control.

An early design of monoplane was developed by Russian inventor Alexander Mozhaysky who made his first attempt at flight in 1884. His design included such key elements of modern aircraft as fuselage, wing, propulsion, empenage and chassis.

Richard Pearse of New Zealand had built a monoplane in which he made attempts at controlled powered flight in March 1903, although the lack of outside knowledge of his achievements meant that his design had almost no influence in the development of the aeroplane.

Another early monoplane was constructed by Romanian inventor Traian Vuia, who made a flight of 12 m (40 ft) on March 18, 1906.

The first successful aircraft were biplanes, but many important pioneering aircraft were monoplanes, for instance Louis Blériot flew across the English Channel in 1909 in a mid-wing monoplane of his own design. Throughout 1909-1910 Hubert Latham set multiple altitude records in his Antoinette IV monoplane, initially achieving 155 m (509 ft) then raising it to 1,384 m (4,541 ft).[1] The Fokker Eindecker of 1915 was a successful fighter aircraft. The Junkers J 1 was an early German "technology demonstrator" monoplane, and the world's very first practical all-metal aircraft of any type to fly, with the J 1's first flight occurring in December 1915.

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