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50 lei set 2001 - Romanian Aviation Pioneers
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Romanian Pioneers in Aviation
11.1 mm sided octagon, 14.5 mm circumscribed circle radius, 2.49 mm width, 15.551 grams, silver 99.9%, flat edge
Obverse: Romania, image and name of the airplane, year 2001, Romanian coat of arms and denomination value 50 LEI

Issuing date: 31st of August 2001

Mintage: 500 sets

About Traian Vuia and his plane

Traian Vuia patented in 1903 his airplane-automobile in France, and in 1904 also in Great Britain. He built himself the four cylinder engine of his aircraft, having as inspiration the Serpollet steam engine construction. As working agent he used carbon dioxide, stored in liquid state inside a just thirteen liter tank, allowing a performance of about five minutes.

On March 18th 1906, at Montesson near Paris, Traian Vuia flew, at the height of one meter and over a distance of twelve meters, being the first man ever to fly with an aircraft taking off on its own self provided energy required to loose the ground (the Wright brothers device used a launching, catapulting based system). This flight - though short - proved that an aircraft was capable of taking off and then flying propelled by a single screw propeller and single-winged. Having undisputed priority in taking off on his own, therefore without exterior interference, Traian Vuia is considered to have achieved on March 18th 1906 the first properly called aircraft flight ever.

Traian Vuia was Doctor of Juridical Science, mechanics being instead the passion that marked his entire life.

About Henri Coandă and his plane

The plane of Henri Coandă was shown at the 2nd International Aeronautical Exhibition of Paris in 1910. It was equipped with the Coandă invented reactor motor, baptized by its inventor “turbopropeller”.

On December 16th 1910, at Issy-les-Moulineaux, Coandă tried his aircraft. Panic-stricken by the flames emerging from the jet nozzles and by the fact he actually had lifted away from the ground, Henri Coandă lost the controls of the plane, that crashed down and caught fire. The first jet reaction flight though had already taken place!

He was also member of the Romanian Academy. Engineer and inventor, Henri Coandă is known by the effect bearing his name today.

The Coandă 1910 airplane and its inventor also appear on a 10 lei silver 2010 set dedicated to the centennial anniversary of the first jet aircraft engineered by Henri Coandă.

About Elie Carafoli and his plane

I.A.R. -11 CV was a low wing fighter. It was designed at the Romanian Aeronautical Industry Anonymous Society in Brașov, under the direction of Elie Carafoli, and finished in 1930. On the prototype of this plane captain Romeo Popescu tried, in 1931, to break the world speed record. Unluckily the attempt ended in a forced landing, the pilot losing his life and the plane being crushed.

Descendant of the Aromanian strain of the Romanian people, Elie Carafoli was born at Veria, near Salonika (the Romanian term, come from the Aromanian dialect being Săruna). Still in the Ottoman Empire, Salonika was not belonging to Greece yet at the times recalled herein. He studied at the Romanian high school in Bitola (Macedonia) as well at the Gheorghe Lazăr high school in Bucharest. He graduated the Polytechnic School in Bucharest (where later on he has become teacher) and the Sorbonne University. His researches in aerodynamics brought him complete recognition, being received inside the Romanian Academy.

It is interesting to notice that a coin with Aurel Vlaicu, the fourth Romanian aviation pioneer, was not struck. A possible explanation could be the fact that Aurel Vlaicu was already featured by the 500.000 lei Romanian banknote.

The silver coin pictures above are present on Romanian coins through the kind permission of Mr. Adrian Popovici.

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