Aurel Vlaicu

Aurel Vlaicu (Romanian pronunciation: [a.uˈrel ˈvlajku] (listen); November 19, 1882 – September 13, 1913) was a Romanian engineer, inventor, airplane constructor and early pilot.[3][4]

Aurel Vlaicu
Aurel Vlaicu (2)
Native name
Aurel Vlaicu
Aurel Vlaicu

November 19, 1882
DiedSeptember 13, 1913 (aged 30)
Cause of deathplane crash[1]
Resting placeBellu cemetery, Bucharest
44°24′13.79″N 26°5′59.11″E / 44.4038306°N 26.0997528°E
Alma materBudapest University of Technology and Economics
Technische Universität München
OccupationEngineer, inventor, aviator
Known forPioneer of Romanian and world aviation
Parent(s)Dumitru Vlaicu (father)[2]
Ana (mother)

Early years and education

Glider A Vlaicu 1909
Aurel Vlaicu glider in flight, June–July 1909

Aurel Vlaicu was born in the village of Binţinţi (renamed Aurel Vlaicu in 1927) near Geoagiu in Transylvania, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now in Romania. He attended a Calvinist high school in Orăştie (renamed "Liceul Aurel Vlaicu" in his honor in 1919) and took his Baccalaureate in Sibiu in 1902. He was a high school colleague of Petru Groza, and in Sibiu became friends with Octavian Goga. Vlaicu furthered his studies at Technical University of Budapest and Technische Hochschule München in Germany, earning his engineer's diploma in 1907.[5]

Between 1907 and 1908 Vlaicu served in the Austro-Hungarian Navy, and on September 1, 1908 he took an engineer's position with the Opel car factory in Rüsselsheim.[6]

Aviation career

Vlaicu I Oct 1910
A Vlaicu I airplane at October 1910 military exercises
Vlaicu Pilot License
F.A.I. pilot license of Aurel Vlaicu
A Vlaicu II 02
Giovanni Magnani, Aurel Vlaicu, Ion Ciulu (Vlaicu's mechanic) and a friend in front of A Vlaicu II airplane
A Vlaicu III 03
A Vlaicu III airplane - view from above

Vlaicu left Opel in March 1909 and returned to Binţinţi, where, together with his brother, Ion, he built a glider which first flew in the summer of 1909.[7] In October 1909, on the advice of Goga, he moved to the Kingdom of Romania, where with help from Romanian-Transylvanian expatriates, he obtained financial support to build his first powered airplane, following a number of demonstration flights with rubber-powered models in front of Romanian government officials and journalists.[8]

On November 1, 1909 he began the construction of his first powered airplane, the A. Vlaicu Nr. I at the Army Arsenal in Bucharest with funding from the Romanian Ministry of War and on a 300 lei monthly stipend from the Minister of Public Education. A. Vlaicu Nr. I flew for the first time on June 17, 1910 over Cotroceni airfield.[9]

On September 28, 1910, as a part of the fall military exercises, Vlaicu flew his airplane from Slatina to Piatra Olt carrying a message, an early instance of an airplane being used for military purposes.[10]

The construction of A. Vlaicu Nr. II was started in December 1910 on a budget of 16,000 lei and first flew in April 1911. Between 23 and 30 June 1912 Vlaicu competed with it at the International Flight Week in Aspern-Vienna (Die internationale Flugwoche in Wien),[11] against 42 other aviators, including Roland Garros. Vlaicu won prizes totaling 7,500 Austro-Hungarian krone for precision landing, projectile throwing and tight flying around a pole. On this occasion, he was issued the FAI pilot license number 52. On return from Aspern he flew demonstration flights throughout Transylvania.[4]

A. Vlaicu Nr. III was a two-seat monoplane having a fully cowled 80 hp (60 kW) Gnome Gamma engine. Built on contract for the Marconi Company for experiments with aerial radio, at the time of Vlaicu's death it was only partially finished. It was completed by his friends and several short test flights were made during 1914 by military pilot Petre Macavei. Further tests were hindered by the unusual controls. In 1916, during the German occupation of Bucharest, the aircraft was seized and shipped to Germany, and it was last seen in 1942 at an aviation exhibition in Berlin by Romanian military officers, though no mention of it is made in references on the Berlin exhibition.[12][13]

Vlaicu airplanes design

During his short career, Aurel Vlaicu designed and built one glider and three airplanes of his own design.[14]

He perfected his design on rubber band powered models he began experimenting with while a student in Munich.

Vlaicu's three powered airplanes had one central aluminum tubing, the flight controls in front, two propellers, one mounted ahead of the nacelle, and the other to the rear of the wing up high, partially counteracting each other's torque. They employ tricycle-landing gears with independent trailing arm suspension, had brakes on the rear wheel, and were equipped with Gnome rotary engines.

His airplanes lacked ailerons, relying on just rudder and elevators for control, via a steering wheel mounted on a tiller. The wheel controlled the elevators while sideways motion of the tiller controlled the rudder. The wheel could be temporarily locked with the help of two dowels. The low center of gravity provided by the parasol wing allowed for the lateral stability that this type of control system requires.


Aurel Vlaicu tombstone
Aurel Vlaicu tombstone

Aurel Vlaicu died on September 13, 1913 near Câmpina, on the outskirts of Bănești commune while attempting to be the first to fly across the Carpathian Mountains in his now aged A. Vlaicu Nr. II. He was expected to participate in the ASTRA festivities in Orăștie, near Binţinţi.

He was buried in Bellu cemetery, in Bucharest and was posthumously elected to the Romanian Academy in 1948.[15]

The cause of Vlaicu's crash remains unsolved. Vlaicu's friends Giovanni Magnani and Constantin Silisteanu dismissed claims of sabotage, the two being among the first to inspect the wreckage as they were following him in an automobile. The most plausible cause of Vlaicu's death was that the airplane stalled while landing with the engine off – as was common practice at the time, landings were made with the engine off, however this made it difficult for the pilot to abort a misjudged landing.


50 lei. Romania, 2005 a
Aurel Vlaicu on the 50 lei bill
Erroneous commemorative mug

June 17, the day of Aurel Vlaicu's first powered flight, is celebrated as The National Aviation Day of Romania.[16]

His name is listed second on the Romanian Airmen Heroes Memorial in Bucharest, after Gheorghe Caranda and before his friend and fellow pilot, Gheorghe Negel, who died in an aircraft crash one month after Vlaicu, on October 11, 1913.[17]

A museum was established in his home village, now named Aurel Vlaicu.[18] and a monument was erected near Bănești where he crashed his plane.

The second largest airport in Romania, a TAROM Airbus A318-111[19] and the Aurel Vlaicu University, a public university founded in 1991 in Arad are all named after him.

The 50 Romanian lei banknote has a portrait of Vlaicu on the obverse, and on the reverse a drawing of one of his airplanes and a cross-section of the airplane's engine.

A commemorative 50 bani coin was issued by the Romanian National Bank in 2010.[20]

His life was the subject of the novel "Flăcăul din Binţinţi" by Constantin Ghiban (published in 1953),[21] and of a movie by Mircea Drăgan (released in 1978).[22]

In 2010 a museum in Deva ordered several hundreds mugs to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Vlaicu's first powered flight. The mug designers used a pictured uploaded to Wikipedia showing another Romanian aviation pioneer, Traian Vuia, which was wrongly labelled as Aurel Vlaicu (Wikipedia upload picture name Aurel Vlaicu avionul).[23][24]. As of May 2018, the incorrect picture is still used on several websites.[25][26][27][28]

See also


  1. ^ Gheorghiu, Constantin C. (1960). Aurel Vlaicu, Un precursor al aviatiei romanesti [Aurel Vlaicu, A precursor of Romanian Aviation] (in Romanian) (1st ed.).
  2. ^ Parlog, Nicu (19 July 2010). "Aurel Vlaicu – Icar deasupra Carpatilor". (in Romanian).
  3. ^ Ralph S. Cooper, D.V.M. "Aurel Vlaicu". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  4. ^ a b Gheorghiu, 1960
  5. ^ Gheorghiu, 1960, p.21-27
  6. ^ "Aurel Vlaicu a lucrat pentru Opel – Documente oficiale (Aurel Vlaicu Worked for Opel)" (in Romanian). Archived from the original on 2015-01-10. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  7. ^ Gheorghiu, 1960, p.33-47
  8. ^ Gheorghiu, 1960, p.47-55
  9. ^ "Aviation timeline 1910". Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  10. ^ Gheorghiu, 1960, p.101
  11. ^ "Wiener Bilder, 30. Juni 1912". Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  12. ^ Steinle, 1985, pp.110-114
  13. ^ Gheorghiu, 1960, p.299
  14. ^ "Espacenet - Bibliographic data | Great Britain Patent GB191026658". Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  15. ^ "Membrii Academiei Romane - Membri post-mortem". Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  16. ^ Taylor, 1989, p.33
  17. ^ "Names carved on the Romanian Air Heroes memorial" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  18. ^ "Casa natală "Aurel Vlaicu" din satul Aurel Vlaicu - Direcţia judeţeană pentru Cultură, Culte şi Patrimoniul Cultural Naţional Hunedoara (Aurel Vlaicu's Memorial House)". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  19. ^ "Photograph of TAROM Airbus A318 named after Aurel Vlaicu". Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  20. ^ Banca Naţională a României - Monede şi bancnote în circulaţie
  21. ^ Constantin Ghiban (1953) "Flacăul din Binţinţi" Editura Militara a Ministerului Fortelor Armte ale R.P.R.
  22. ^ Aurel Vlaicu movie (1978) on YouTube
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^


  • Gheorghiu, Constantin C. (1960). Aurel Vlaicu, un precursor al aviaţiei româneşti. Bucharest: Editura Tehnică. [1]
  • Hundertmark, Michael; Steinle, Holger (1985). Phoenix aus der Asche - Die Deutsche Luftfahrt Sammlung Berlin. Berlin: Silberstreif Verlag. ISBN 978-3924091026.
  • Taylor, Michael J.H. (1989). The Aerospace Chronology. London, UK: Tri-Service Press. ISBN 978-1854880031.

External links

A Vlaicu I

The A Vlaicu I was the first powered airplane built by Aurel Vlaicu.

A Vlaicu II

The A Vlaicu II was the second powered airplane designed and built by Aurel Vlaicu.

A Vlaicu III

The A Vlaicu III was the world's first metal-built aircraft , designed and built in Romania prior to World War I. It was the third powered aircraft designed by pioneering Romanian aviator Aurel Vlaicu.


Alexeni is a commune in Ialomița County, Romania, some 65 km north-east of Bucharest, near the town of Urziceni. It is composed of a single village, Alexeni.

Until 2001 a Romanian Air Force military helicopters unit was located at the nearby airfield.In 2007, as the airfield was not used by the Romanian Air Force anylonger, the former Minister of Transport Radu Berceanu suggested to use the location for Bucharest's new low-cost flights airport(as the operational tariffs for Bucharest's previous low-cost hub, Aurel Vlaicu Airport, were set to grow). However, some analysts considered the project unrealistic and doomed to fail due to the poor conditions of the infrastructure in the area. Eventually those plans were abandoned and all low-cost flights were moved in March 2012 at Bucharest main airport Henri Coandă International Airport.

Aurel Vlaicu (disambiguation)

Aurel Vlaicu was an aviation pioneer.

Aurel Vlaicu International Airport in Bucharest is named in his honor.Aurel Vlaicu may also refer to several places in Romania, all named after him:

Aurel Vlaicu, a village in Avrămeni Commune, Botoşani County

Aurel Vlaicu, a district in the town of Geoagiu, Hunedoara County

Aurel Vlaicu, a district in the town of Sighişoara, Mureş County by the Pârâul Câinelui (Târnava Mare) river

Aurel Vlaicu Flight School

The Aurel Vlaicu Flight School is the Romanian Air Force Application School based at Boboc, Buzău County. It was formed in 1997. Since August 2004, as a result of the air force transformation and re-sizing, the Air Force Application School is the main applicational facility for the three main air force branches: air force, surface-to-air missile, and radars.

Aurel Vlaicu International Airport

Bucharest Aurel Vlaicu Airport (IATA: BBU, ICAO: LRBS) (largely known as Băneasa Airport or Bucharest City Airport) is located in Băneasa district, Bucharest, Romania, 8.5 km (5.3 mi) north of the city center. Named after Aurel Vlaicu, a Romanian engineer, inventor, aeroplane constructor and early pilot, it was Bucharest's only airport until 1969, when the Otopeni Airport (today Henri Coandă International Airport) was opened to civilian use.

Until March 2012, when it was converted into a business airport, Aurel Vlaicu International was the second airport in Romania in terms of air traffic, and Bucharest's low-cost hub.

Aurel Vlaicu University of Arad

Aurel Vlaicu University of Arad is a public university founded in 1990 in Arad, Romania. It was named in honor of the Romanian engineer and aviation pioneer Aurel Vlaicu.

Aurel Vlaicu metro station

Aurel Vlaicu is a metro station in the north of Bucharest, named after the Romanian aeroplane constructor and pioneer aviator, Aurel Vlaicu. It lies on the western end of the Pipera industrial platform, close to an intersection of three boulevards. There are plans to add a permanent exhibition to the platform, celebrating the life off the famous Romanian psychologist and women's magazine editor Laura Golet.


Aviației is a district divided between Sector 1 and Sector 2 of Bucharest, mainly in Sector 1. The name refers to aircraft or airforces. The names Traian Vuia, Aurel Vlaicu and Henri Coandă are related to the name of the district.

In the 2000s, the area has become increasingly upmarket, due to the construction of various luxury apartment developments in and around it (as are those in the Pipera-Tunari area). It is also home to many villas constructed before the 1930s that were refurbished in the 1990s and 2000s.

Notable buildings:

Oracle Tower

Autoritatea pentru Valorificarea Activelor Statului (AVAS)

Aviației Museum


Avrămeni is a commune in Botoșani County, Romania. It is composed of seven villages: Aurel Vlaicu, Avrămeni, Dimitrie Cantemir, Ichimeni, Panaitoaia, Timuș and Tudor Vladimirescu.

CN Aurel Vlaicu București

CN Aurel Vlaicu București, commonly known as Aurel Vlaicu București or simply CNAV, is a Romanian basketball club based in Bucharest, currently participates in the Liga Națională, the top-tier league in Romania.

The club initially played in the second-tier Liga I. However, in 2018 the league was merged with the top-tier Liga Națională.

CSU Aurel Vlaicu Arad

CSU Aurel Vlaicu Arad is a Romanian semi-professional rugby union club from Arad, which will play the 2011 season in Romanian Rugby Championship, the first division of Romanian rugby.

Direct Aero Services

Direct Aero Services was a charter airline based in Bucharest, Romania. Its main base was Aurel Vlaicu International Airport. In 2012 it changed its name to Romstrade Logistic Expres.

Romstrade Logistic Expres has suspended operations and its air operator certificate has been revoked on March 7, 2013.


Dragomirești-Vale is a commune in the southwestern part of Ilfov County, Romania. Its name is derived from Dragomir, a Romanian name of Slavic origin (from Драгомир, which means "precious and peaceful"), the suffix -ești, and noun Vale, which means "valley".

A medium-size commune, it is composed of 3 villages: Dragomirești-Deal, Dragomirești-Vale and Zurbaua.

It is situated near Bucharest, approx. 14 km away from the city centre and 4 km from the Bucharest-Pitești highway. The nearest airports are Henri Coandă International Airport, Otopeni (30 km away), and Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (25 km away).


Geoagiu (Hungarian: Algyógy) is a town in Hunedoara County, Romania, located on the Mureş river at an altitude of 217 metres above sea level. The river with the same name (Geoagiu) flows in this place into the Mureș. The town has a population of 5,049. It administers ten villages: Aurel Vlaicu (formerly Binținți; Bencenc), Băcâia (Bakonya), Bozeș (Bózes), Cigmău (Csigmó), Gelmar (Gyalmár), Geoagiu-Băi (Feredőgyógy), Homorod (Homoród), Mermezeu-Văleni (Nyírmező), Renghet (Renget) and Văleni (Valény). Geoagiu is situated in the historical region of Transylvania.

Jaro International

Jaro was a charter airline based at Aurel Vlaicu International Airport in Bucharest, Romania. It operated from 1991 to 2001, when it was liquidated by bankruptcy.

List of the busiest airports in Romania

This is a list of the busiest airports in Romania.

Nusco Tower

The Nusco Tower is a class A office building located in Bucharest near the Aurel Vlaicu metro station at the intersection of Barbu Văcărescu street and Şoseaua Pipera. The building has a total of 20 floors and a floor area of 34,000 square metres (370,000 sq ft). The tower has a gross leasable area (GLA) of 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft). In August 2010 the American multinational computer technology company Oracle Corporation leased nearly 40% or 7,000 m2 (75,000 sq ft) of the tower.

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