Ian Turney-White’s Ponnier Racer

The Ponnier racer was designed by Albert Pagny. It was built for the 1913 Gordon Bennett race to be held in France at Reims. It was a stumpy monoplane of 23ft 6in span powered by a twin row rotary Gnome engine.

Emile Vedrines piloted the Ponnier. During the elimination flights for the competition the current world speed record was beaten with a Deperdussin reaching 192 km/hr. The Ponnier was only slightly slower though and ahead of the other entrants. The three man French team consisted of two Deperdussins and the Ponnier.

With two days before the race the Deperdussin aircraft was modified and a smaller wing fitted. On 29th September 1913 this aircraft won the race with a new world record of 204km/hr. The Ponnier also crossed the 200km/hr mark, but it seemed that imperfect flying around the turns caused the race to be lost, the Ponnier was clearly seen to be faster.

Shortly after the race the Ponnier was unofficially timed at 230 km/hr.

Ian’s Model

Built in 1996, Ian’s model has become well known at LMA events and public displays. It has proven to be a great machine to fly and, unusually for a model of an ‘early’ aeroplane, can cope with most weather conditions.


The fuselage structure was built from Columbian pine and internally wire braced. The wing ribs have balsa centres and spruce capstrips. The undercarriage ash is made from.


Stainless steel tubing was used for the cabane pylon and stainless steel strip used to make all the fittings.


The supporting wing wires are stainless steel with 650 lb braking strain. The wing warping mechanism uses wire of 550lb breaking strain.


Aluminium was used to cover the sides, the top of the fuselage and for the cowling. The radio system uses two Futaba 1024 PCM receivers powered by two 6V 2A diode protected, batteries. The engine’s ignition system has its own 6V 1.2A battery.


This fast model is flown by Ian in almost all weather conditions!

Flight Characteristics

The model was built to fly when Ian’s other aircraft would be grounded due to strong winds. Ian says that is a spectacular model to fly. It is fast for a 1913 aircraft, aerobatic and very maneuverable. It felt right from the first flight. The only modification necessary to the original design was to increase the incidence of the tailplane to reduce its tendency to climb.

As with his other wing warping aircraft, the rudder must be used to initiate a turn. The aircraft is capable of barrel rolls, loops, stall turns, spins and impressive pylon turns. However, the aircraft does need to be flown at all times. It climbs into wind and descends downwind due to the under-cambered wing section.

Its only fault is that the undercarriage is a bit too forward and too tall. Hence the model is best landed with power. If too slow an attempt is made it tips up on its nose.

Up to November 2001 it has had 145 flights.

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