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RUSJAN, Edvard

* 6. 6. 1886, Trieste, Italy
† 9. 1. 1911, Belgrade, Serbia

designer (aircraft)

Although R. trained for his father's profession (a cooper), he was a keen athlete and a gifted technician and dedicated his life to aviation. He lived in Trieste, Italy (1886-90), Renče, Slovenia (1890-98), Gorizia, Italy (since 1898), Zagreb, Croatia (late 1910) and Belgrade, Serbia (early 1911). His first accomplishments were in racing bicycles, where he met people who significantly contributed to the realisation of his dreams in aviation. He became enthusiastic about aviation in 1897 thanks to his two-year older brother Jože, who was to remain his most devoted partner, and who was to continue Edvard's work after his death.
In 1900, the two brothers constructed the first powered flying model. In 1908 they decided to construct a powered airplane but they lacked both the expert knowledge as well as money to purchase the engine. Following the example of the Wright brothers, R. decided to make the engine by himself and took the blueprints to the engineer Franz Miller in Turin. Miller supported the talented young man, provided him with the Anzani 25 hp engine and helped him visit the international air show held in September 1909 in Brescia (Italy). At the airshow R. became acquainted with the most advanced aircraft technology of the time and personally met the Frenchman, Louis Bleriot, the first man to complete a flight across the English Channel.
R. decided to construct his first aircraft following the design of the American Curtiss Golden Flyer, which won the competition in Brescia.
After his return to Gorizia, together with his brother Jože and assistants, they constructed a biplane with which Edvard became the first Slovene to complete a 60-metre flight, on 25th November 1909, followed by a distance of 600-metres, four days later. By August 1910, the two brothers had constructed a total of seven aircraft, each named after Edvard (Eda).
Eda I was a biplane, Eda II a triplane of a 'duck' type (with rudders in front and engine behind the wheels), Eda III and IV were biplanes similar to Eda I, Eda V was an imitation of a small Santos-Dumont airplane Demoiselle, Eda VI was constructed following the example of Bleriot's airplane No. XI, whilst Eda VII was a semi-biplane. All their airplanes were fitted with the Anzani engine, which only allowed the airplanes to rise to a height of about 50 metres and gave only a few-minutes flight in the air.
After several failures R. entered into partnership with Zagreb-based entrepreneur Mihajlo Merćep. Between September and November 1910 he constructed in Zagreb his most successful airplane of all; a monoplane with a 14.4-metre wingspan and Gnome 50 hp engine. The airplane took off after only 28 metres and reached an altitude of 100 metres.
The partners tried to sell the plane to the Serbian army and demonstrated it an air show in Belgrade in early 1911. Despite bad weather conditions R. decided to take to the air, but after only about three kilometres of flight he was already attempting to land, when a strong gust of wind broke off the wing and the airplane crashed.
His brother Jože continued to work with Merćep in Zagreb and by 1919 had constructed three more airplanes of his brother's design.

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