A fixed-wing airplane with two sets of wings, one above the other. The Wright Brothers' airplane was the very first biplane. 

Biplanes had lighter wing structures than early monowing planes, but they also had a lot more drag, and they needed a lot of bracing on the wings, which created even more drag. By the 1930s, improvements in structure and materials -- and higher speeds -- made the biplane obsolete. 

Though very common in the early days of aeronautics, they are only flown today by aviation hobbyists or during exhibitions or air shows.

Biplane was Richard Bach's second novel, written in 1962. Like almost all of his other books, it is autobiographical, at least in theory, and tells of the author trading his sleek modern airplane for an antique biplane he doesn't really know how to fly. He has to fly the biplane from North Carolina to his home in California, and the book tells of his struggles and learning along the way. The trip takes about a week, and he is delayed even further when he crashes the plane landing in a crosswind.

Biplane features an introduction by Ray Bradbury, who says "Richard Bach does not fly, just as his great-great-great-grandaddy Johann Sebastian Bach did not write music: he exhaled it." If you think you can't find purpose and meaning in flight, or that you can't be charmed senseless by reading a novel whose two principle characters are a man and his airplane, I challenge you to read this book. I would also say that Bach's talent shines more brightly in his early works, which are dominated by airplanes, with just a bit of philosophy peeking in the corners, than his later work. Whenever he gets too far away from flying it starts to seem strained.

A competition class at the Reno Air Races, consisting of a group of small biplanes racing around a 3.16 mile long course of six pylons and one "home" pylon. Race planes of this class are typically Pitts Specials powered by Lycoming engines, though other planes are used.

Customized airplanes must fall within certain guidelines, such as wing area and proportion, and engine size. For instance, the largest engine that can be installed on a racer is the 360 cid, or cubic inch displacement, Lycoming engine.

BiPlane was an old arcade game released by Fun Games Inc. way back in 1976.

The story

This early black and white arcade title was one of only three games put out by Fun Games Inc. before they went out of business (the other two are Tankers and BiPlane 4). A fourth game (entitled Kong) was recently discovered in PCB form, but it was never released.

The game

Each player controls a small airplane with a set of levers (this title is two player only). You must avoid each others shots, and the anti-aircraft fire which rings the outer edges of the screen.

This is your basic two player dogfight, with gameplay very similar to the airplane levels on the Atari 2600 Combat cartridge, but without the screen wrapping effect.

The Machine

The BiPlane cabinet was finished in woodgrain, and was highly decorated with dogfight scenes, and words like "Action", "Fun", and "Pow" (which were done in comic book style).

This title did not use a CPU, and is powered by a very unreliable +5 volt power supply. This can easily be replaced with a modern arcade (or even PC), power supply. Many in game setting are changed with knobs instead of switches (things like shot distance, game length, and various audio tone adjustments).

The boards for this game will plug into a Tanker cabinet with minimal modifications.

Where to play

This title has neither been emulated, nor ported to any other system. So you are going to have to find an original machine to play it on. (The airplane levels on the Atari 2600 game Combat are similar, but not exact).

I would not add this to my arcade game collection, unless it was incredibly cheap. The need for two players at once really reduces the amount of use that you would be able to get out of this game in your home.

Bi"plane (?), n. [Pref. bi- + plane.] (Aeronautics)

An aeroplane with two main supporting surfaces one above the other.


© Webster 1913.

Bi"plane, a. (Aeronautics)

Having, or consisting of, two superposed planes, aerocurves, or the like; of or pertaining to a biplane; as, a biplane rudder.


© Webster 1913.

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