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Coated fabrics aloft, restored for history

Markets, Projects | October 7, 2009 | By:

A daring Frenchman named Louis Blériot became the first to fly across the English Channel 100 years ago. The coated fabric on his plane’s wings, fuselage and collapsible floats (Blériot couldn’t swim) was manufactured by German-based Continental AG, a specialist in rubber and plastics technology. When the Musée des Arts & Métiers in Paris restored the plane for a special exhibition on the historic event, divisions of Continental AG, ContiTech France and ContiTech Elastomer Coatings, collaborated with the restoration work.

The original coated fabric from Continental is on view, having survived for more than a century on the aircraft, Blériot XI. Restoration of the float, which was not leakproof, required an upgrade; ContiTech designed two collapsible cylinders of coated fabric that are inserted into the float and inflated to stabilize the more primitive technology. Visitors to the exhibit can view the float as it looked originally—and perhaps imagine the possible fate of Blériot aircrafts I-X. ContiTech AG, Hanover, Germany, develops parts, components and systems for the automotive industry. For more details, visit

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