Books & Gear
Books to enjoy, gear to check out and Danish eccentricity to celebrate
My Dream and my Aeroplanes by René Fournier, E38, with shipping to UK and Europe E14 (rest of the world, E18). Order from René Fournier himself at 2 rue de la Halbuterie, 37270 Athée-sur-cher, France
In our February issue I reviewed the recent English translation of René Fournier’s fascinating autobiography My Dream and my Aeroplanes. I have since been told that the book I was originally sent was not representative of those on sale. René recently mailed me a copy of the definitive version, which is a significantly better production, with higher quality text and printing, improved photo reproduction and superior binding.
For those who haven’t read my original review or who are unfamiliar with Fournier’s diverse family of delightful aeroplanes, this is an excellent book by a gifted and artistic aircraft designer who at first merely wanted to build his own, highly efficient, classic-handling flying machine — aspiring as nearly as humanly as possible to soar like the mountain eagles. But this visionary eventually achieved so much more than that.
René’s substantial 439-page memoir traces his journey from his childhood building make-believe aeroplanes, through wartime military service and education in an aeronautical college to a few years as professional ceramicist and supplier of school craft equipment while he made his prototype. As soon as other pilots saw this long-winged creation they clamoured for their own examples, so via a brief government grant and a handful of prototpes and pre-production development versions he became an initially reluctant manufacturer of the graceful RF3. The need for greater aerobatic strength and capability led to his world-famous RF4D, and via that to the two-seat RF5 and its derivatives, the RF5B Sperber motor-glider and stealthy RF5S spyplane.
The prolific M Fournier’s subsequent side-by-side RF6B begat both the German four-seat RS180 Sportsman and the composite British Slingsby T-67 Firefly, used for pilot training by air forces all over the world including here in Britain — examples still serve the better flying clubs as aerobatic trainers. The specialised aerobatic RF7, metal RF8, wooden RF9 touring motor glider and its composite RF10 derivative led to the Brazilian Aeromot Ximango and Super Ximango, which currently introduces USAF cadets to flying. His penultimate project was the Vw-powered JAR-VLA trainer RF47, of which only a handful were produced, including a fully aerobatic prototype. Another prototype, of a kit-built, folding-wing, Briggs & Stratton-powered ultralight RF4UL is still under development ‘somewhere in France’ with the lively nonogenarian René acting as technical advisor. His book charts all this in fascinating detail, including his reasons for various design aspects, his continual battles with inert and obstructive officialdom and the many exploits, records and adventures of his magnificent aroplanes and their often frankly eccentric pilots. I commend this book, not only to Fournier enthusiasts, but to everybody who aspires to rise above dull bureacuracy and soar into the freedom of our skies above.