Aviation history

Aviation history

Overview
The history of aviation
Aviation
Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

has extended over more than two thousand years from the earliest attempts in kite
Kite
A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind...

s and gliders
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

 to powered heavier-than-air, supersonic and hypersonic
Hypersonic
In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that is highly supersonic. Since the 1970s, the term has generally been assumed to refer to speeds of Mach 5 and above...

 flight.

The first form of man-made flying objects were kite
Kite
A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind...

s. The earliest known record of kite flying is from around 200 BC in China, when a general flew a kite over enemy territory to calculate the length of tunnel required to enter the region.
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The history of aviation
Aviation
Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

has extended over more than two thousand years from the earliest attempts in kite
Kite
A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind...

s and gliders
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

 to powered heavier-than-air, supersonic and hypersonic
Hypersonic
In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that is highly supersonic. Since the 1970s, the term has generally been assumed to refer to speeds of Mach 5 and above...

 flight.

The first form of man-made flying objects were kite
Kite
A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind...

s. The earliest known record of kite flying is from around 200 BC in China, when a general flew a kite over enemy territory to calculate the length of tunnel required to enter the region. Yuan Huangtou
Yuan Huangtou
Yuan Huangtou was the son of emperor Yuan Lang of Eastern Wei. At that time, Gao Yang took control the court of Eastern Wei and set the emperor as puppet. Finally, Yan Huangtou was imprisoned by Gao Yang and, against his will, flown from the tower of Ye, China. He survived this flight, but was...

, a Chinese prince, survived by tying himself to the kite.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

's (15th c.) dream of flight found expression in several designs, but he did not attempt to demonstrate his ideas by actually constructing them.

With the efforts to analyze the atmosphere in the 17th and 18th century, gases such as hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 were discovered which in turn led to the invention of hydrogen balloons. Various theories in mechanics
Mechanics
Mechanics is the branch of physics concerned with the behavior of physical bodies when subjected to forces or displacements, and the subsequent effects of the bodies on their environment....

 by physicists during the same period of time, notably fluid dynamics
Fluid dynamics
In physics, fluid dynamics is a sub-discipline of fluid mechanics that deals with fluid flow—the natural science of fluids in motion. It has several subdisciplines itself, including aerodynamics and hydrodynamics...

 and Newton's laws of motion
Newton's laws of motion
Newton's laws of motion are three physical laws that form the basis for classical mechanics. They describe the relationship between the forces acting on a body and its motion due to those forces...

, led to the foundation of modern aerodynamics
Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is a subfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with...

. Tethered balloons filled with hot air were used in the first half of the 19th century and saw considerable action in several mid-century wars, most notably the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, where balloons provided observation during the Battle of Petersburg.

Experiments with gliders provided the groundwork for heavier-than-air craft, and by the early 20th century advances in engine technology and aerodynamics made controlled, powered flight possible for the first time.

Mythology



Human ambition to fly is illustrated in mythological literature of several cultures; the wings made out of wax and feathers by Daedalus
Daedalus
In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a skillful craftsman and artisan.-Family:...

 in Greek mythology, or the Pushpaka Vimana of king Ravana in Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, for instance.

Flight automaton in Greece


Around 400 BC, Archytas
Archytas
Archytas was an Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist. He was a scientist of the Pythagorean school and famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato....

, the Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman and strategist, designed and built a bird-shaped, apparently steam powered model named "The Pigeon" ( "Peristera"), which is said to have flown some 200 meters. According to Aulus Gellius
Aulus Gellius
Aulus Gellius , was a Latin author and grammarian, who was probably born and certainly brought up in Rome. He was educated in Athens, after which he returned to Rome, where he held a judicial office...

, the mechanical bird was suspended on a string or pivot and was powered by a "concealed aura or spirit".

Hot air balloons, glider and kites in China


The Kongming lantern (proto hot air balloon) was known in China from ancient times. Its invention is usually attributed to the general Zhuge Liang
Zhuge Liang
Zhuge Liang was a chancellor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. He is often recognised as the greatest and most accomplished strategist of his era....

 (180–234 AD, honorific title Kongming), who is said to have used them to scare the enemy troops:
An oil lamp was installed under a large paper bag, and the bag floated in the air due to the lamp heating the air. ... The enemy was frightened by the light in the air, thinking that some divine force was helping him.

However, the device based on a lamp in a paper shell is documented earlier, and according to Joseph Needham
Joseph Needham
Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham, CH, FRS, FBA , also known as Li Yuese , was a British scientist, historian and sinologist known for his scientific research and writing on the history of Chinese science. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1941, and as a fellow of the British...

, hot-air balloons in China were known from the 3rd century BC.

In the 5th century BCE Lu Ban
Lu Ban
Lu Ban was a Chinese carpenter, engineer, philosopher, inventor, military thinker, statesman and contemporary of Mozi, born in the State of Lu, and is the patron Saint of Chinese builders and contractors. He was born in a renowned family during the Spring and Autumn Period when China was...

 invented a 'wooden bird' which may have been a large kite, or which may have been an early glider
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

.

In 1st century AD, when Wang Mang
Wang Mang
Wang Mang , courtesy name Jujun , was a Han Dynasty official who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded the Xin Dynasty , ruling AD 9–23. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow and his rule marks the separation between the Western Han Dynasty and Eastern Han Dynasty...

 tried to recruit specialist as scout to Xiong Nu, a man binding himself with bird feather glided about 100 meters, but finally landed.
  • 559
    559
    Year 559 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 559 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Byzantine Empire :* The Kutrigurs and Huns under...

    • Yuan Huangtou
      Yuan Huangtou
      Yuan Huangtou was the son of emperor Yuan Lang of Eastern Wei. At that time, Gao Yang took control the court of Eastern Wei and set the emperor as puppet. Finally, Yan Huangtou was imprisoned by Gao Yang and, against his will, flown from the tower of Ye, China. He survived this flight, but was...

      , Ye
      Ye, China
      Ye or Yecheng was an ancient Chinese city located in what is now Linzhang County, Hebei and the neighbouring Anyang County, Henan....

      , first manned kite glide to take off from a tower — 559
      559
      Year 559 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 559 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Byzantine Empire :* The Kutrigurs and Huns under...


During the Yuan dynasty (13th c.) under rulers like Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

, the rectangular lamps became popular in festivals, when they would attract huge crowds. During the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

, the design may have spread along the Silk Route into Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and the Middle East. Almost identical floating lights with a rectangular lamp in thin paper scaffolding are common in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

an celebrations and in the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 festival of lights, Diwali
Diwali
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages include:, , , , , , , , , , , , , popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons...

. However, there is no evidence that these were used for human flight.

Gliders in Europe


In the 9th century, at the age of 65, the Berber polymath Ibn Firnas is said to have flown from the hill Jabal al-'arus by employing a rudimentary glider
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

. While "alighting
Landing
thumb|A [[Mute Swan]] alighting. Note the ruffled feathers on top of the wings indicate that the swan is flying at the [[Stall |stall]]ing speed...

 again on the place whence he had started," he eventually crashed and sustained injury which some contemporary critics attributed to a lack of tail. However, the only source describing the event is from the 17th century.

Between 1000 and 1010, the English Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 monk Eilmer of Malmesbury
Eilmer of Malmesbury
Eilmer of Malmesbury was an 11th-century English Benedictine monk best known for his early attempt at a gliding flight using wings.- Life :...

 flew for about 200 meters using a glider (c. 1010), but he too sustained injuries. The event is recorded in the work of the eminent medieval historian William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury was the foremost English historian of the 12th century. C. Warren Hollister so ranks him among the most talented generation of writers of history since Bede, "a gifted historical scholar and an omnivorous reader, impressively well versed in the literature of classical,...

 in about 1125. Being a fellow monk in the same abbey, William almost certainly obtained his account directly from people there who knew Eilmer himself.

From Renaissance to the 18th century



Some six centuries after Ibn Firnas, Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

 developed a hang glider design in which the inner parts of the wings are fixed, and some control surfaces are provided towards the tips (as in the gliding flight in birds). While his drawings exist and are deemed flightworthy in principle, he himself never flew in it. Based on his drawings, and using materials that would have been available to him, a prototype constructed in the late 20th century was shown to fly. However, his sketchy design was interpreted with modern knowledge of aerodynamic principles, and whether his actual ideas would have flown is not known. A model he built for a test flight in 1496 did not fly, and some other designs, such as the four-person screw-type helicopter, have severe flaws.

In 1670 Francesco Lana de Terzi
Francesco Lana de Terzi
Francesco Lana de Terzi was an Italian Jesuit, mathematician, naturalist and aeronautics pioneer...

 published work that suggested lighter than air flight would be possible by having copper foil spheres that contained a vacuum that would be lighter than the displaced air, lift an airship
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

 (rather literal from his drawing). While not being completely off the mark, he did fail to realize that the pressure of the surrounding air would crush the spheres.

In 1709 Bartolomeu de Gusmão
Bartolomeu de Gusmão
Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão , was a priest and naturalist born in the then Portuguese colony of Brazil, noted for his early work on lighter-than-air airship design....

 presented a petition to King John V of Portugal, begging for support for his invention of an airship, in which he expressed the greatest confidence. The public test of the machine, which was set for June 24, 1709, did not take place. According to contemporary reports, however, Gusmão appears to have made several less ambitious experiments with this machine, descending from eminences. It is certain that Gusmão was working on this principle at the public exhibition he gave before the Court on August 8, 1709, in the hall of the Casa da Índia
Casa da Índia
Casa da Índia was the Portuguese organization that managed all overseas territories during the heyday of the Portuguese Empire in the 16th century. It was both the central authority for managing all aspects of overseas trade, the central shipment point and clearing house...

 in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, when he propelled a ball to the roof by combustion.

Lighter than air



1783 was a watershed year for ballooning and aviation, between June 4 and December 1 five aviation firsts were achieved in France:
  • On 4 June, the Montgolfier brothers
    Montgolfier brothers
    Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the montgolfière-style hot air balloon, globe aérostatique. The brothers succeeded in launching the first manned ascent, carrying Étienne into the sky...

     demonstrated their unmanned hot air balloon
    Hot air balloon
    The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

     at Annonay
    Annonay
    Annonay is a commune in the north of the Ardèche department in the Rhône-Alpes region in southern France. It is the most populous commune in the Ardèche department, although it is not the capital, which resides in the smaller town of Privas.-Geography:...

    , France.
  • On 27 August, Jacques Charles
    Jacques Charles
    Jacques Alexandre César Charles was a French inventor, scientist, mathematician, and balloonist.Charles and the Robert brothers launched the world's first hydrogen-filled balloon in August 1783, then in December 1783, Charles and his co-pilot Nicolas-Louis Robert ascended to a height of about...

     and the Robert brothers
    Robert brothers
    Les Frères Robert were two French brothers. Anne-Jean Robert , and Nicolas-Louis Robert , The brothers were the engineers who built the world's first hydrogen balloon for professor Jacques Charles; it flew from central Paris on...

     (Les Freres Robert
    Robert brothers
    Les Frères Robert were two French brothers. Anne-Jean Robert , and Nicolas-Louis Robert , The brothers were the engineers who built the world's first hydrogen balloon for professor Jacques Charles; it flew from central Paris on...

    ) launched the world's first (unmanned) hydrogen-filled balloon, from the Champ de Mars
    Champ de Mars
    The Champ de Mars is a large public greenspace in Paris, France, located in the seventh arrondissement, between the Eiffel Tower to the northwest and the École Militaire to the southeast. The park is named after the Campus Martius in Rome, a tribute to the Roman god of war...

    , Paris.
  • On 19 October, the Montgolfiers launched the first manned flight, a tethered balloon with humans on board, at the Folie Titon in Paris. The aviators were the scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier
    Pilâtre de Rozier
    Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier was a French chemistry and physics teacher, and one of the first pioneers of aviation. He and the Marquis d'Arlandes made the first manned free balloon flight on 21 November 1783, in a Montgolfier balloon. He later died when his balloon crashed near Wimereux in...

    , the manufacture manager Jean-Baptiste Réveillon
    Jean-Baptiste Réveillon
    Jean-Baptiste Réveillon, was a French wallpaper manufacturer. Réveillon's career was an exemplary story of the self-made businessman.-Life:...

    , and Giroud de Villette.
  • On 21 November, the Montgolfiers launched the first free flight with human passengers. King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, along with the Marquis François d'Arlandes
    François Laurent d'Arlandes
    François Laurent le Vieux d'Arlandes was a French marquis, soldier and a pioneer of hot air ballooning. He and Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier made the first manned free balloon flight on 21 November 1783, in a Montgolfier balloon....

    , successfully petitioned for the honor. They drifted 8 km (5 mi) in a balloon powered by a wood fire.
  • On 1 December, Jacques Charles and the Nicolas-Louis Robert
    Robert brothers
    Les Frères Robert were two French brothers. Anne-Jean Robert , and Nicolas-Louis Robert , The brothers were the engineers who built the world's first hydrogen balloon for professor Jacques Charles; it flew from central Paris on...

     launched their manned hydrogen balloon from the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, amid a crowd of 400,000. They ascended to a height of about 1,800 feet (550 m)[15] and landed at sunset in Nesles-la-Vallée
    Nesles-la-Vallée
    Nesles-la-Vallée is a commune in the Val-d'Oise department in Île-de-France in northern France.-References:** -External links:* *...

     after a flight of 2 hours and 5 minutes, covering 36 km. After Robert alighted Charles decided to ascend alone. This time he ascended rapidly to an altitude of about 3,000 metres, where he saw the sun again, suffered extreme pain in his ears, and never flew again.



Ballooning became a major "rage" in Europe in the late 18th century, providing the first detailed understanding of the relationship between altitude and the atmosphere.

Work on developing a steerable (or dirigible) balloon (now called an airship
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

) continued sporadically throughout the 19th century. The first powered, controlled, sustained lighter-than-air flight is believed to have taken place in 1852 when Henri Giffard
Henri Giffard
Henri Giffard was a French engineer. In 1852 he invented the steam injector and the powered airship.-Career:Baptiste Henri Jacques Giffard was born in Paris in 1825...

 flew 15 miles (24.1 km) in France, with a steam engine driven craft.

Non-steerable balloons were employed during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 by the Union Army Balloon Corps
Union Army Balloon Corps
The Union Army Balloon Corps was a branch of the Union Army during the American Civil War, established by presidential appointee Thaddeus S. C. Lowe...

. The young Ferdinand von Zeppelin first flew as a balloon passenger with the Union Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.-History:The Army of the Potomac was created in 1861, but was then only the size of a corps . Its nucleus was called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under Brig. Gen...

 in 1863.

Another advance was made in 1884, when the first fully controllable free-flight was made in a French Army electric-powered airship, La France
La France (airship)
The La France was a French Army airship launched by Charles Renard and Arthur Constantin Krebs in 1884. Collaborating with Charles Renard, Arthur Constantin Krebs piloted the first fully controlled free-flight with the La France. The long, airship, electric-powered with a 435 kg battery...

, by Charles Renard
Charles Renard
Charles Renard was a French military engineer. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 he started work on the design of air ships at the French army aeronautical department. Together with Arthur C...

 and Arthur Krebs
Arthur Krebs
Arthur Constantin Krebs was a French officer and pioneer in automotive engineering....

. The 170 feet (51.8 m) long , 66000 cubic feet (1,868.9 m³) airship covered 8 km (5 mi) in 23 minutes with the aid of an 8½ horsepower electric motor.

However, these aircraft were generally short-lived and extremely frail. Routine, controlled flights would occur until the advent of the internal combustion engine (see below.)

Although airships were used in both World War I and II, and continue on a limited basis to this day, their development has been largely overshadowed by heavier-than-air craft.

Sustaining the aircraft



The first published paper on aviation was "Sketch of a Machine for Flying in the Air"
Flying Machine (Swedenborg)
Swedenborg's Flying Machine was first sketched by the Swedish scientist Emanuel Swedenborg in 1714, when he was 26 years old. It was later published in his periodical in 1716. It postdates Leonardo_da_Vinci's designs.- Background :...

 by Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg
was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

 published in 1716. This flying machine consisted of a light frame covered with strong canvas and provided with two large oars or wings moving on a horizontal axis, arranged so that the upstroke met with no resistance while the downstroke provided lifting power. Swedenborg knew that the machine would not fly, but suggested it as a start and was confident that the problem would be solved. He wrote: "It seems easier to talk of such a machine than to put it into actuality, for it requires greater force and less weight than exists in a human body. The science of mechanics might perhaps suggest a means, namely, a strong spiral spring. If these advantages and requisites are observed, perhaps in time to come some one might know how better to utilize our sketch and cause some addition to be made so as to accomplish that which we can only suggest. Yet there are sufficient proofs and examples from nature that such flights can take place without danger, although when the first trials are made you may have to pay for the experience, and not mind an arm or leg." Swedenborg would prove prescient in his observation that a method of powering of an aircraft was one of the critical problems to be overcome.

During the last years of the 18th century, Sir George Cayley started the first rigorous study of the physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 of flight. In 1799 he exhibited a plan for a glider, which except for planform
Planform
In aviation, a planform is the shape and layout of a fixed-wing aircraft's fuselage and wing. Of all the myriad planforms used, they can typically be grouped into those used for low-speed flight, found on general aviation aircraft, and those used for high-speed flight, found on many military...

 was completely modern in having a separate tail for control and having the pilot suspended below the center of gravity
Center of gravity
In physics, a center of gravity of a material body is a point that may be used for a summary description of gravitational interactions. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of mass serves as the center of gravity...

 to provide stability, and flew it as a model in 1804. Over the next five decades Cayley worked on and off on the problem, during which he invented most of basic aerodynamics
Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is a subfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with...

 and introduced such terms as lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

and drag
Drag (physics)
In fluid dynamics, drag refers to forces which act on a solid object in the direction of the relative fluid flow velocity...

. He used both internal
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 and external combustion engines, fueled by gunpowder. Later Cayley turned his research to building a full-scale version of his design, first flying it unmanned in 1849, and in 1853 his coachman made a short flight at Brompton
Brompton, Scarborough
Brompton is a civil parish in the Scarborough district of North Yorkshire containing the villages of Brompton-by-Sawdon and Sawdon.The village of Brompton-by-Sawdon is about west of Scarborough itself, close to the North York Moors and on the A170 road.According to the 2001 UK census, Brompton...

, near Scarborough in Yorkshire.

In 1848, John Stringfellow
John Stringfellow
John Stringfellow was born in Sheffield, England and is known for his work on the Aerial Steam Carriage with William Samuel Henson....

 had a successful indoor test flight of a steam-powered model, in Chard, Somerset
Chard, Somerset
Chard is a town and civil parish in the Somerset county of England. It lies on the A30 road near the Devon border, south west of Yeovil. The parish has a population of approximately 12,000 and, at an elevation of , it is the southernmost and highest town in Somerset...

, England.


In 1866 a Polish peasant, sculptor and carpenter by the name of Jan Wnęk
Jan Wnek
Jan Wnęk is believed to have been an aviation pioneer.Jan Wnek was born in Kaczówka. He was illiterate but known to be very intelligent. Trained as a carpenter, this Polish peasant had a keen sense of detail and was also able to restore paintings...

 built and flew a controllable glider. Wnęk was illiterate and self-taught, and could only count on his knowledge about nature based on observation of birds' flight and on his own builder and carver skills. Jan Wnęk was firmly strapped to his glider by the chest and hips and controlled his glider by twisting the wing's trailing edge via strings attached to stirrups at his feet. Church records indicate that Jan Wnęk launched from a special ramp on top of the Odporyszów church tower; The tower stood 45 m high and was located on top of a 50 m hill, making a 95 m (311 ft) high launch above the valley below. Jan Wnęk made several public flights of substantial distances between 1866 and 1869, especially during religious festivals, carnivals and New Year celebrations. Wnęk left no known written records or drawings, thus having no impact on aviation progress. Recently, Professor Tadeusz Seweryn, director of the Kraków Museum of Ethnography http://www.krakow-info.com/museums.htm, has unearthed church records with descriptions of Jan Wnęk's activities.


In 1856, Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris
Jean-Marie Le Bris
Jean-Marie Le Bris was a French aviator, born in Concarneau, Brittany, who accomplished a glider flight in December 1856.- Life and works :...

 made the first flight higher than his point of departure, by having his glider "L'Albatros artificiel" pulled by a horse on a beach. He reportedly achieved a height of 100 meters, over a distance of 200 meters.

Francis Herbert Wenham
Francis Herbert Wenham
Francis Herbert Wenham was a British marine engineer who studied the problem of manned flight and wrote a perceptive and influential academic paper which he presented to the first meeting of the Royal Aeronautical Society in London in 1866.Wenham's report, "Aerial Locomotion," was published in the...

 built a series of unsuccessful unmanned gliders. He found that the most of the lift from a bird-like wing appeared to be generated at the front edge, and concluded correctly that long, thin wings would be better than the bat-like ones suggested by many, because they would have more leading edge for their weight. Today this measure is known as aspect ratio
Aspect ratio (wing)
In aerodynamics, the aspect ratio of a wing is essentially the ratio of its length to its breadth . A high aspect ratio indicates long, narrow wings, whereas a low aspect ratio indicates short, stubby wings....

. He presented a paper on his work to the newly formed Aeronautical Society of Great Britain in 1866, and decided to prove it by building the world's first wind tunnel
Wind tunnel
A wind tunnel is a research tool used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects.-Theory of operation:Wind tunnels were first proposed as a means of studying vehicles in free flight...

 in 1871. Members of the Society used the tunnel and learned that cambered
Camber (aerodynamics)
Camber, in aeronautics and aeronautical engineering, is the asymmetry between the top and the bottom surfaces of an aerofoil. An aerofoil that is not cambered is called a symmetric aerofoil...

 wings generated considerably more lift than expected by Cayley's Newtonian reasoning, with lift-to-drag ratio
Lift-to-drag ratio
In aerodynamics, the lift-to-drag ratio, or L/D ratio, is the amount of lift generated by a wing or vehicle, divided by the drag it creates by moving through the air...

s of about 5:1 at 15 degrees
Degree (angle)
A degree , usually denoted by ° , is a measurement of plane angle, representing 1⁄360 of a full rotation; one degree is equivalent to π/180 radians...

. This clearly demonstrated the ability to build practical heavier-than-air flying machines; what remained was the problem of controlling the flight and powering them.

Around 1871 Alphonse Pénaud
Alphonse Pénaud
Alphonse Pénaud , was a 19th-century French pioneer of aviation, inventor of the rubber powered model airplane Planophore and founder of the aviation industry.-Biography:...

 made rubber powered model aircraft. While of little direct practical use they inspired a whole generation of future flight pioneers, including the Wright brothers who were given them as toys as children.

In 1874, Félix du Temple built the "Monoplane
Monoplane (1874)
The du Temple Monoplane was a large aeroplane made of aluminium, built in Brest, France, by naval officer Félix du Temple in 1874.The plane had a wingspan of 13 m and weighed of only 80 kg without the pilot....

", a large plane made of aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 in Brest, France
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

, with a wingspan
Wingspan
The wingspan of an airplane or a bird, is the distance from one wingtip to the other wingtip. For example, the Boeing 777 has a wingspan of about ; and a Wandering Albatross caught in 1965 had a wingspan of , the official record for a living bird.The term wingspan, more technically extent, is...

 of 13 meters and a weight of only 80 kilograms (without the driver). Several trials were made with the plane, and it is generally recognized that it achieved lift off under its own power after a ski-jump run, glided for a short time and returned safely to the ground, making it the first successful powered flight in history, although the flight was only a short distance and a short time.

Controlling the flight


The 1880s became a period of intense study, characterized by the "gentleman scientist
Gentleman scientist
A gentleman scientist is a financially independent scientist who pursues scientific study as a hobby. The term arose in post-Renaissance Europe but became less common in the 20th century as government and private funding increased.-History:...

s" who represented most research efforts until the 20th century. Starting in the 1880s advances were made in construction that led to the first truly practical glider
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

s. Three people in particular were active: Otto Lilienthal
Otto Lilienthal
Otto Lilienthal was a German pioneer of human aviation who became known as the Glider King. He was the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful gliding flights. He followed an experimental approach established earlier by Sir George Cayley...

, Percy Pilcher
Percy Pilcher
Percy Sinclair Pilcher was a British inventor and pioneer aviator who was his country's foremost experimenter in unpowered flight at the end of the 19th Century...

 and Octave Chanute
Octave Chanute
Octave Chanute was a French-born American railway engineer and aviation pioneer. He provided the Wright brothers with help and advice, and helped to publicize their flying experiments. At his death he was hailed as the father of aviation and the heavier-than-air flying machine...

. One of the first modern gliders appears to have been built by John J. Montgomery
John J. Montgomery
John Joseph Montgomery was an aviation pioneer, inventor, professor at Santa Clara College.On August 28, 1883 he made the first manned, controlled, heavier-than-air flights of the United States, in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego, California...

; it flew one flight outside of San Diego on August 28, 1883. It was not until many years later that his efforts became well known. Another hang-glider had been constructed by Wilhelm Kress
Wilhelm Kress
Wilhelm Kress was a pioneer in aviations and constructor of aircraft.-Life:Kress came to Vienna in 1873, where he developed the first modern delta-flying hang glider in 1877...

 as early as 1877 near Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

.

Otto Lilienthal of Germany duplicated Wenham's work and greatly expanded on it in 1874, publishing his research in 1889. He also produced a series of ever-better gliders, and starting in 1891 was able to make flights of 25 meters or more routinely. He rigorously documented his work, including photographs, and for this reason is one of the best known of the early pioneers. He also promoted the idea of "jumping before you fly", suggesting that researchers should start with gliders and work their way up, instead of simply designing a powered machine on paper and hoping it would work. His type of aircraft is now known as a hang glider.

By the time of his death in 1896 he had made 2500 flights of up to 250 meters on a number of designs, when a gust of wind causing him to fall from a height of roughly 50 feet (15.2 m). He died the next day. Lilienthal had been working on small engines suitable for powering his designs at the time of his death.

Australian Lawrence Hargrave
Lawrence Hargrave
Lawrence Hargrave was an engineer, explorer, astronomer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer.- Early life :Hargrave was born in Greenwich, England, the second son of John Fletcher Hargrave and was educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland...

 invented the box kite and dedicated his life to constructing flying machines. In the 1880s he experimented with monoplane models and by 1889 Hargrave had constructed a rotary airplane engine, driven by compressed air.

Picking up where Lilienthal left off, Octave Chanute took up aircraft design after an early retirement, and funded the development of several gliders. In the summer of 1896 his troop flew several of their designs many times at Miller Beach
Miller Beach
Miller Beach is a community on the southernmost shore of Lake Michigan. Originally an independent town first settled in 1851, Miller was annexed by the city of Gary, Indiana in 1918...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, eventually deciding that the best was a biplane design that looks surprisingly modern. Like Lilienthal, he heavily documented his work while photographing it, and was busy corresponding with like-minded hobbyists around the world. Chanute was particularly interested in solving the problem of aerodynamic instability of the aircraft in flight, one which birds corrected for by instant corrections, but one that humans would have to address either with stabilizing and control surfaces or by moving the center of gravity of the aircraft, as Lilienthal did. The most disconcerting problem was longitudinal instability (divergence), because as the angle of attack of a wing increased, the center of pressure
Center of pressure
The center of pressure is the point on a body where the total sum of a pressure field acts, causing a force and no moment about that point. The total force vector acting at the center of pressure is the value of the integrated vectorial pressure field. The resultant force and center of pressure...

 moved forward and made the angle increase more. Without immediate correction, the craft would pitch up and stall
Stall (flight)
In fluid dynamics, a stall is a reduction in the lift coefficient generated by a foil as angle of attack increases. This occurs when the critical angle of attack of the foil is exceeded...

. Much more difficult to understand was the mixing of lateral/directional stability and control.

Powering the aircraft




Throughout this period, a number of attempts were made to produce a true powered aircraft. However the majority of these efforts were doomed to failure, being designed by ill-informed amateurs who did not have a full understanding of the problems being discussed by Lilienthal and Chanute.

In 1884, Alexander Mozhaysky's monoplane
Monoplane
A monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane or triplane. Since the late 1930s it has been the most common form for a fixed wing aircraft.-Types of monoplane:...

 design made what is now considered to be a powered take off assisted by the use of ramp, flying between 60–100 ft (20–30 m) near Krasnoye Selo
Krasnoye Selo
Krasnoye Selo is a municipal town in Krasnoselsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is located south-southeast of the city center. Population:...

, Russia.

In France Clément Ader
Clément Ader
Clément Ader was a French inventor and engineer born in Muret, Haute Garonne, and is remembered primarily for his pioneering work in aviation.- The inventor :...

 built the steam-powered Eole and may have made a 50-meter flight near Paris in 1890, which would be the first self-propelled "long distance" flight in history. Ader then worked on a larger design which took five years to build. In a test for the French military, the Avion III failed to fly and, caught by a gust of wind, was seriously damaged. Ader's later claims to have achieved a flight 0f 300 metres were later proved false.
Sir Hiram Maxim made a number of experiments in Britain, eventually building an enormous 7000 pounds (3,175.1 kg) machine with a wingspan of 105 feet (32 m), powered by two advanced lightweight steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

s which delivered 180 hp (134 kW) each. Maxim built it to study the basic problems of construction, lift and propulsion. He used a1800 feet (548.6 m) track with a second set of restraining rails for test runs. After a number of tests, on 31 July 1894 he started a series of runs at increasing power settings. The first two were successful, with the craft lifting off the track. In the afternoon the crew of three fired the boilers to full power, and after reaching a speed of over 42 mph (68 km/h) about 600 feet (182.9 m) down the track the machine produced so much lift it broke one of restraining rails and crashed after flying at a low altitudes for about 200 feet (61 m). Having spent around £30,000, and unwilling to spend more, he abandoned these experiments, only resuming his work in the 20th century, when he tested a number of smaller designs powered by gasoline engines.

Also in Britain Percy Pilcher
Percy Pilcher
Percy Sinclair Pilcher was a British inventor and pioneer aviator who was his country's foremost experimenter in unpowered flight at the end of the 19th Century...

, who had worked for Maxim and had built and successfully flown several gliders
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

 during the mid to late 1890s, constructed a prototype powered aircraft in 1899 which, recent research has shown, would have been capable of flight. However, he died in a glider accident before he was able to test it.

Lighter than air



The first aircraft to make routine controlled flights were non-rigid airships (later called "blimps".) The most successful early pioneering pilot of this type of aircraft was the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont
Alberto Santos-Dumont
Alberto Santos-Dumont , was a Brazilian early pioneer of aviation. The heir of a wealthy family of coffee producers, Santos Dumont dedicated himself to science studies in Paris, France, where he spent most of his adult life....

 who effectively combined a balloon with an internal combustion engine. On October 19, 1901 he flew his airship "Number 6" over Paris from the Parc de Saint Cloud around the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world...

 and back in under 30 minutes to win the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. Santos-Dumont went on to design and build several aircraft. Subsequent controversy surrounding his and others' competing claims with regard to aircraft overshadowed his unparalleled contributions to the development of airships.

At the same time that non-rigid airships were starting to have some success, rigid airships were also becoming more advanced. Indeed, rigid body dirigibles would be far more capable than fixed-wing aircraft in terms of pure cargo carrying capacity for decades. Dirigible design and advancement was brought about by the German count, Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin was a German general and later aircraft manufacturer. He founded the Zeppelin Airship company...

.

Construction of the first Zeppelin
Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

 airship began in 1899 in a floating assembly hall on Lake Constance in the Bay of Manzell, Friedrichshafen
Friedrichshafen
This article is about a German town. For the Danish town, see Frederikshavn, and for the Finnish town, see Fredrikshamn .Friedrichshafen is a university city on the northern side of Lake Constance in Southern Germany, near the borders with Switzerland and Austria.It is the district capital of the...

. This was intended to ease the starting procedure, as the hall could easily be aligned with the wind. The prototype airship LZ 1 (LZ for "Luftschiff Zeppelin") had a length of 128 m, was driven by two 14.2 ps (10.6 kW) Daimler
Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft was a German engine and later automobile manufacturer, in operation from 1890 until 1926. Founded by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, it was based first in Cannstatt...

 engines and balanced by moving a weight between its two nacelles.

The first Zeppelin flight occurred on July 2, 1900. It lasted for only 18 minutes, as LZ 1 was forced to land on the lake after the winding mechanism for the balancing weight had broken. Upon repair, the technology proved its potential in subsequent flights, beating the 6 m/s velocity record of French airship La France by 3 m/s, but could not yet convince possible investors. It would be several years before the Count was able to raise enough funds for another try. Indeed, it was not until 1902 when Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo developed his own zeppelin airship, with which he solved the serious balance problems the suspending gondola had shown in previous flight attempts.

Langley



After a distinguished career in astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and shortly before becoming Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

, Samuel Pierpont Langley
Samuel Pierpont Langley
Samuel Pierpont Langley was an American astronomer, physicist, inventor of the bolometer and pioneer of aviation...

 started a serious investigation into aerodynamics at what is today the University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of...

. In 1891 he published Experiments in Aerodynamics detailing his research, and then turned to building his designs. On May 6, 1896, Langley's Aerodrome No.5 made the first successful sustained flight of an unpiloted, engine-driven heavier-than-air craft of substantial size. It was launched from a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia. Two flights were made that afternoon, one of 1005 metres (3,297.2 ft) and a second of 700 metres (2,296.6 ft), at a speed of approximately 25 mi/h. On both occasions the Aerodrome No.5 landed in the water as planned, because in order to save weight, it was not equipped with landing gear. On November 28, 1896, another successful flight was made with the Aerodrome No.6. This flight, of 1460 metres (4,790 ft), was witnessed and photographed by Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell was an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone....

. The Aerodrome No.6 was actually Aerodrome No.4 greatly modified. So little remained of the original aircraft that it was given the new designation of Aerodrome No.6.

With the success of the Aerodrome No. 5 and its follow-on No. 6, Langley started looking for funding to build a full-scale man-carrying version of his designs. Spurred by the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

, the U.S. government granted him $50,000 to develop a man-carrying flying machine for surveillance. Langley planned on building a scaled-up version known as the Aerodrome A, and started with the smaller Quarter-scale Aerodrome, which flew twice on June 18, 1901, and then again with a newer and more powerful engine in 1903.

With the basic design apparently successfully tested, he then turned to the problem of a suitable engine. He contracted Stephen Balzer to build one, but was disappointed when it delivered only 8 horsepower
Horsepower
Horsepower is the name of several units of measurement of power. The most common definitions equal between 735.5 and 750 watts.Horsepower was originally defined to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses in continuous operation. The unit was widely adopted to measure the...

 (6 kW) instead of 12 hp (9 kW) as he expected. Langley's assistant, Charles M. Manly
Charles M. Manly
Charles M. Manly was an American engineer who helped Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley build The Great Aerodrome, which was intended to be a manned, powered, winged flying machine....

, then reworked the design into a five-cylinder water-cooled radial that delivered 52 horsepower (39 kW) at 950 rpm, a feat that took years to duplicate. Now with both power and a design, Langley put the two together with great hopes.

To his dismay, the resulting aircraft proved to be too fragile. He had apparently overlooked the effects of minimum gauge , and simply scaling up the original small models resulted in a design that was too weak to hold itself together. Two launches in late 1903 both ended with the Aerodrome immediately crashing into the water. The pilot, Manly, was rescued each time.

Langley's attempts to gain further funding failed, and his efforts ended. Nine days after his second abortive launch on December 8, the Wright brothers
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

 successfully flew their aptly named Flyer. Glenn Curtiss
Glenn Curtiss
Glenn Hammond Curtiss was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle then motorcycle builder and racer, later also manufacturing engines for airships as early as 1906...

 made several modifications to the Aerodrome and successfully flew it in 1914—the Smithsonian Institution thus continued to assert that Langley's Aerodrome was the first machine "capable of flight".

The Wright Brothers



Following a step by step method, discovering aerodynamic forces then controlling the flight, the brothers built and tested a series of kite and glider designs from 1900 to 1902 before attempting to build a powered design. The gliders worked, but not as well as the Wrights had expected based on the experiments and writings of their 19th century predecessors. Their first glider, launched in 1900, had only about half the lift they anticipated. Their second glider, built the following year, performed even more poorly. Rather than giving up, the Wrights constructed their own wind tunnel
Wind tunnel
A wind tunnel is a research tool used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects.-Theory of operation:Wind tunnels were first proposed as a means of studying vehicles in free flight...

 and created a number of sophisticated devices to measure lift and drag on the 200 wing designs they tested. As a result, the Wrights corrected earlier mistakes in calculations regarding drag and lift. Their testing and calculating produced a third glider with a larger aspect ratio
Aspect ratio
The aspect ratio of a shape is the ratio of its longer dimension to its shorter dimension. It may be applied to two characteristic dimensions of a three-dimensional shape, such as the ratio of the longest and shortest axis, or for symmetrical objects that are described by just two measurements,...

 and true three-axis control. They flew it successfully hundreds of times in 1902, and it performed far better than the previous models. In the end, by establishing their rigorous system of designing, wind-tunnel testing of airfoils and flight testing of full-size prototypes, the Wrights not only built a working aircraft but also helped advance the science of aeronautical engineering.


The Wrights appear to be the first design team to make serious studied attempts to simultaneously solve the power and control problems. Both problems proved difficult, but they never lost interest. They solved the control problem by inventing wing warping
Wing warping
Wing warping was an early system for lateral control of a fixed-wing aircraft. The technique, used and patented by the Wright brothers, consisted of a system of pulleys and cables to twist the trailing edges of the wings in opposite directions...

 for roll control, combined with simultaneous yaw control with a steerable rear rudder. Almost as an afterthought, they designed and built a low-powered internal combustion engine. Relying on their wind tunnel data, they also designed and carved wooden propellers that were more efficient than any before, enabling them to gain adequate performance from their marginal engine power. Although wing-warping was used only briefly during the history of aviation, when used with a rudder it proved to be a key advance in order to control an aircraft. While many aviation pioneers appeared to leave safety largely to chance, the Wrights' design was greatly influenced by the need to teach themselves to fly without unreasonable risk to life and limb, by surviving crashes. This emphasis, as well as marginal engine power, was the reason for low flying speed and for taking off in a head wind. Performance (rather than safety) was also the reason for the rear-heavy design, because the canard
Canard (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

 could not be highly loaded; anhedral
Anhedral
* Anhedral angle, the downward angle from horizontal of the wings or tailplane of a fixed-wing aircraft* Anhedral , a rock texture without crystal faces or cross-section shape in thin section...

 wings were less affected by crosswinds and were consistent with the low yaw stability.

According to the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 and Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records. Its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. This includes man-carrying aerospace vehicles from balloons to spacecraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles...

 (FAI), the Wrights made the first sustained, controlled, powered heavier-than-air manned flight at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Kill Devil Hills is a town in Dare County, North Carolina, USA. The population was 5,897 at the 2000 census.Nearby Kitty Hawk is frequently cited as the location of the Wright brothers' first controlled, powered airplane flights on December 17, 1903...

, four miles (8 km) south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Kitty Hawk is a town in Dare County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 3,000 at the 2000 census. It was established in the early 18th century as Chickahawk....

 on December 17, 1903.

The first flight by Orville Wright, of 120 feet (36.6 m) in 12 seconds, was recorded in a famous photograph. In the fourth flight of the same day, Wilbur Wright flew 852 feet (259.7 m) in 59 seconds. The flights were witnessed by three coastal lifesaving crewmen, a local businessman, and a boy from the village, making these the first public flights and the first well-documented ones.

Orville described the final flight of the day: "The first few hundred feet were up and down, as before, but by the time three hundred feet had been covered, the machine was under much better control. The course for the next four or five hundred feet had but little undulation. However, when out about eight hundred feet the machine began pitching again, and, in one of its darts downward, struck the ground. The distance over the ground was measured to be 852 feet (260 m); the time of the flight was 59 seconds. The frame supporting the front rudder was badly broken, but the main part of the machine was not injured at all. We estimated that the machine could be put in condition for flight again in about a day or two." They flew only about ten feet above the ground as a safety precaution, so they had little room to maneuver, and all four flights in the gusty winds ended in a bumpy and unintended "landing". Modern analysis by Professor Fred E. C. Culick and Henry R. Rex (1985) has demonstrated that the 1903 Wright Flyer was so unstable as to be almost unmanageable by anyone but the Wrights, who had trained themselves in the 1902 glider.

The Wrights continued flying at Huffman Prairie near Dayton, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

 in 1904–05. After a severe crash on 14 July 1905, they rebuilt the Flyer and made important design changes. They almost doubled the size of the elevator
Elevator (aircraft)
Elevators are flight control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft, which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing. In simplified terms, they make the aircraft nose-up or nose-down...

 and rudder and moved them about twice the distance from the wings. They added two fixed vertical vanes (called "blinkers") between the elevators, and gave the wings a very slight dihedral. They disconnected the rudder from the wing-warping control, and as in all future aircraft, placed it on a separate control handle. When flights resumed the results were immediate. The serious pitch instability that hampered Flyers I and II was significantly reduced, so repeated minor crashes were eliminated. Flights with the redesigned Flyer III started lasting over 10 minutes, then 20, then 30. Flyer III became the first practical aircraft (though without wheels and needing a launching device), flying consistently under full control and bringing its pilot back to the starting point safely and landing without damage. On 5 October 1905, Wilbur flew 24 miles (38.6 km) in 39 minutes 23 seconds."

According to the April 1907 issue of the Scientific American
Scientific American
Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

magazine, the Wright brothers seemed to have the most advanced knowledge of heavier-than-air navigation at the time. Though, the same magazine issue also affirms that no public flight has been made in the United States before its April 1907 issue. Hence, they devised the Scientific American Aeronautic Trophy in order to encourage the development of a heavier-than-air flying machine.

Alberto Santos-Dumont


The Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos-Dumont
Alberto Santos-Dumont
Alberto Santos-Dumont , was a Brazilian early pioneer of aviation. The heir of a wealthy family of coffee producers, Santos Dumont dedicated himself to science studies in Paris, France, where he spent most of his adult life....

 made a public flight with the flying machine designated 14-bis also known as Oiseau de proie (French for "bird of prey"), on 13 September 1906 in Paris. He used a canard elevator
Elevator (aircraft)
Elevators are flight control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft, which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing. In simplified terms, they make the aircraft nose-up or nose-down...

 and pronounced wing dihedral, and covered a distance of 60 m (200 ft) on the grounds of the Chateau de Bagatelle
Château de Bagatelle
The Château de Bagatelle is a small neoclassical château with a French landscape garden in the Bois de Boulogne in the XVIe arrondissement of Paris...

 in Paris' Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne
The Bois de Boulogne is a park located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, near the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt and Neuilly-sur-Seine...

, before a large crowd of witnesses. This well-documented event was the first flight verified by the Aéro-Club de France
Aéro-Club de France
The Aéro-Club de France was founded as the Aéro-Club on 20 October 1898 as a society 'to encourage aerial locomotion' by Ernest Archdeacon, Léon Serpollet, Henri de la Valette, Jules Verne and his wife, André Michelin, Albert de Dion, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe, and Henry de...

 of a powered heavier-than-air machine in Europe and won the Deutsch-Archdeacon Price for the first officially observed flight further than 25 meters.

On November 12, 1906, Santos-Dumont set the first world record recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale by flying 220 metres in 21.5 seconds.

Santos-Dumont made other contributions to the field of aircraft design. He added movable surfaces, the precursor to aileron
Aileron
Ailerons are hinged flight control surfaces attached to the trailing edge of the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The ailerons are used to control the aircraft in roll, which results in a change in heading due to the tilting of the lift vector...

s, between the wings in an effort to gain more lateral stability. Santos-Dumont's final design was the Demoiselle
Santos-Dumont Demoiselle
-External links:...

 monoplane (Nos. 19 to 22). This aircraft was employed as Dumont's personal transportation and he willingly let others make use of his design. In 1908 Santos-Dumont started working with Adolphe Clément
Adolphe Clément
Gustave Adolphe Clément-Bayard was a French entrepreneur...

's Clement-Bayard company to build the Demoiselle No 19. It was the world's first series production aircraft. By 1909 it was offered with a choice of 3 engines, Clement 20 hp; Wright 4-cyl 30 hp (Clement-Bayard had the license to manufacture Wright engines); and Clement-Bayard 40 hp designed by Pierre Clerget. The Demoiselle achieved 120 km/h.

Alberto Santos-Dumont – seriously ill, and said to be depressed over his multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms...

(not confirmed) and the use of aircraft in warfare – is believed to have committed suicide by hanging himself in the city of Guarujá
Guarujá
Guarujá is a municipality in the São Paulo state of Brazil. The population in 2006 was 305,171, the population density is 1,969.47/km² and the area is 143 km². This place name comes from the Tupi language, and mean "narrow path". The population is highly urbanized.-Geography:Guarujá is...

 in São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

, on July 23, 1932.

Helicopter


In 1877, Enrico Forlanini
Enrico Forlanini
Enrico Forlanini was an Italian engineer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer, well known for his works on helicopters, aircraft, hydrofoils and dirigibles. He was born in Milan...

 developed an unmanned helicopter powered by a steam engine. It rose to a height of 13 meters, where it remained for some 20 seconds, after a vertical take-off from a park in Milan.

The first time a manned helicopter
Cornu helicopter
|-References:* *...

 is known to have risen off the ground was in 1907 at Lisenux, France. The first successful rotorcraft, however, wasn't a true helicopter, but an autogyro
Autogyro
An autogyro , also known as gyroplane, gyrocopter, or rotaplane, is a type of rotorcraft which uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust...

 invented by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva
Juan de la Cierva
Juan de la Cierva y Codorníu, 1st Count of De La Cierva was a Spanish civil engineer, pilot and aeronuatical engineer. His most famous accomplishment was the invention in 1920 of the Autogiro, a single-rotor type of aircraft that came to be called autogyro in the English language...

 in 1919. These kind of rotorcraft were mainly used until the development of modern helicopters, when, for some reason, they became largely neglected, although the idea has since been resurrected several times. Since the first practical helicopter was the Focke Achgelis Fw 61
Focke-Wulf Fw 61
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Coates, Steve and Jean-Christophe Carbonel. Helicopters of the Third Reich. Crowborough, UK: Classic Publications Ltd., 2002. ISBN 1-903223-24-5....

 (Germany, 1936), the autogyro's golden age only lasted around 20 years.

First performances steps under World War I (1914–1918)




Almost as soon as they were invented, planes were drafted for military service. The first country to use planes for military purposes was Italy, whose planes made reconnaissance, bombing and shelling correction military flights during the Italian-Turkish war (September 1911 – October 1912), in Libya. First mission (a reconnaissance) happened on 23 October 1911. First bombing of enemy columns was the 1st November 1911. Then Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 followed this example. Its planes attacked and reconnoitered the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 positions during the First Balkan War 1912–13
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

. The first war to see major use of planes in offensive, defensive and reconnaissance capabilities was World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The Allies
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

 and Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 both used planes extensively.

While the concept of using the aeroplane as a weapon of war was generally laughed at before World War I, the idea of using it for photography was one that was not lost on any of the major forces. All of the major forces in Europe had light aircraft, typically derived from pre-war sporting designs, attached to their reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 departments. Radiotelephone
Radiotelephone
A radiotelephone is a communications system for transmission of speech over radio. Radiotelephone systems are not necessarily interconnected with the public "land line" telephone network. "Radiotelephone" is often used to describe the usage of radio spectrum where it is important to distinguish the...

s were also being explored on airplanes, notably the SCR-68, as communication between pilots and ground commander grew more and more important

Combat schemes


It was not long before aircraft were shooting at each other, but the lack of any sort of steady point for the gun was a problem. The French solved this problem when, in late 1914, Roland Garros attached a fixed machine gun to the front of his plane, but while Adolphe Pegoud
Adolphe Pegoud
Adolphe Célestin Pégoud was a well known pre-war French aviator who became the first fighter ace.Pégoud served in the French Army from 1907 to 1913...

 would become known as the first "ace
Flying ace
A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an "ace" has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more...

", getting credit for five victories, before also becoming the first ace to die in action, it was German Luftstreitkräfte
Luftstreitkräfte
The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte , known before October 1916 as Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches , or simply Die Fliegertruppen, was the air arm of the Imperial German Army during World War I...

 Leutnant Kurt Wintgens
Kurt Wintgens
Leutnant Kurt Wintgens was a German World War I fighter ace. He was the first military fighter pilot to score a victory over an opposing aircraft in an aircraft armed with a synchronized machine gun. Wintgens was the recipient of the Iron Cross and the Blue Max.-Background:Wintgens was born into a...

, who, on July 1, 1915, scored the very first aerial victory by a purpose-built fighter plane
Fokker E.I
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Boyne, Walter J. The Smithsonian Book of Flight for Young People. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1988. ISBN 0-689-31422-1....

, with a synchronized machine gun.

Aviators were styled as modern day knights, doing individual combat with their enemies. Several pilots became famous for their air to air combats, the most well known is Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen , also widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service during World War I...

, better known as the Red Baron, who shot down 80 planes in air to air combat with several different planes, the most celebrated of which was the Fokker Dr.I
Fokker Dr.I
The Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker was a World War I fighter aircraft built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. The Dr.I saw widespread service in the spring of 1918...

. On the Allied side, René Paul Fonck is credited with the most all-time victories at 75, even when later wars are considered.

Because all of the litigation and patent wars fought by the Wright brothers the development of airplanes in USA was hindered and delayed so in World War I practically all pilots, including American pilots, had to use airplanes made in Europe.

Technology and performance advances in aviation's "Golden Age" (1918–1939)



The years between World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 saw great advancements in aircraft technology. Aeroplanes evolved from low-powered biplanes made from wood and fabric to sleek, high-powered monoplanes made of aluminum, based primarily on the founding work of Hugo Junkers
Hugo Junkers
Hugo Junkers was an innovative German engineer, as his many patents in varied areas show...

 during the World War I period. The age of the great airships came and went.


After World War I experienced fighter pilots were eager to show off their new skills. Many American pilots became barnstormers
Barnstorming
Barnstorming was a popular form of entertainment in the 1920s in which stunt pilots would perform tricks with airplanes, either individually or in groups called a flying circus. Barnstorming was the first major form of civil aviation in the history of flight...

, flying into small towns across the country and showing off their flying abilities, as well as taking paying passengers for rides. Eventually the barnstormers grouped into more organized displays. Air shows sprang up around the country, with air races, acrobatic stunts, and feats of air superiority. The air races drove engine and airframe development—the Schneider Trophy
Schneider Trophy
The Coupe d'Aviation Maritime Jacques Schneider was a prize competition for seaplanes. Announced by Jacques Schneider, a financier, balloonist and aircraft enthusiast, in 1911, it offered a prize of roughly £1,000. The race was held eleven times between 1913 and 1931...

, for example, led to a series of ever faster and sleeker monoplane
Monoplane
A monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane or triplane. Since the late 1930s it has been the most common form for a fixed wing aircraft.-Types of monoplane:...

 designs culminating in the Supermarine S.6B
Supermarine S.6B
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Supermarine Aircraft since 1914, 2nd edition. London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-800-3....

, a direct forerunner of the Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

. With pilots competing for cash prizes, there was an incentive to go faster. Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart
Amelia Mary Earhart was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean...

 was perhaps the most famous of those on the barnstorming/air show circuit. She was also the first female pilot to achieve records such as crossing of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


Other prizes, for distance and speed records, also drove development forwards. For example on June 14, 1919, Captain John Alcock
Alcock and Brown
British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919. They flew a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland...

 and Lieutenant Arthur Brown
Alcock and Brown
British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919. They flew a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland...

 co-piloted a Vickers Vimy
Vickers Vimy
The Vickers Vimy was a British heavy bomber aircraft of the First World War and post-First World War era. It achieved success as both a military and civil aircraft, setting several notable records in long-distance flights in the interwar period, the most celebrated of which was the first non-stop...

 non-stop from St. John's, Newfoundland
Dominion of Newfoundland
The Dominion of Newfoundland was a British Dominion from 1907 to 1949 . The Dominion of Newfoundland was situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast and comprised the island of Newfoundland and Labrador on the continental mainland...

 to Clifden, Ireland, winning the £13,000 ($65,000) Northcliffe prize. Eight years later Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.Lindbergh, a 25-year-old U.S...

 took the Orteig Prize
Orteig Prize
The Orteig Prize was a $25,000 reward offered on May 19, 1919, by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig to the first allied aviator to fly non-stop from New York City to Paris or vice-versa. On offer for five years, it attracted no competitors...

 of $25,000 for the first solo non-stop crossing of the Atlantic. Months after Lindbergh, Paul Redfern was the first to solo the Caribbean Sea and was last seen flying over Venezuela.

Australian Charles Kingsford Smith
Charles Kingsford Smith
Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith MC, AFC , often called by his nickname Smithy, was an early Australian aviator. In 1928, he earned global fame when he made the first trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia...

 was the first to fly across the larger Pacific Ocean in the Southern Cross. His crew left Oakland, California to make the first trans-Pacific flight to Australia in three stages. The first (from Oakland to Hawaii) was 2,400 miles, took 27 hours 25 minutes and was uneventful. They then flew to Suva, Fiji 3,100 miles away, taking 34 hours 30 minutes. This was the toughest part of the journey as they flew through a massive lightning storm near the equator. They then flew on to Brisbane in 20 hours, where they landed on 9 June 1928 after approximately 7,400 miles total flight. On arrival, Kingsford Smith was met by a huge crowd of 25,000 at Eagle Farm Airport in his hometown of Brisbane. Accompanying him were Australian aviator Charles Ulm as the relief pilot, and the Americans James Warner and Captain Harry Lyon (who were the radio operator, navigator and engineer). With Ulm, Kingsford Smith later continued his journey being the first in 1929 to circumnavigate the world
First aerial circumnavigation
The first aerial circumnavigation of the world was conducted in 1924 by a team of aviators of the United States Army Air Service, the precursor of the United States Air Force...

, crossing the equator twice.

The first lighter-than-air crossings of the Atlantic were made by airship in July 1919 by His Majesty's Airship R34 and crew when they flew from East Lothian
East Lothian
East Lothian is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, and a lieutenancy Area. It borders the City of Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Midlothian. Its administrative centre is Haddington, although its largest town is Musselburgh....

, Scotland to Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

, New York and then back to Pulham
RNAS Pulham
RNAS Pulham was an Royal Navy Air Service airship station, south of Norwich, UK. Though land was purchased by the Navy in 1912 the site was not operational until 1915...

, England. By 1929, airship technology had advanced to the point that the first round-the-world flight was completed by the Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was a German built and operated passenger-carrying hydrogen-filled rigid airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was a Graf or Count in the German nobility. During its operating life,...

in September and in October, the same aircraft inaugurated the first commercial transatlantic service. However the age of the dirigible ended following the destruction by fire of the zeppelin Hindenburg
Hindenburg disaster
The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey...

 just before landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey
Lakehurst, New Jersey
Lakehurst is a Borough in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2010 Census, the borough population was 2,654.Lakehurst was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 7, 1921, from portions of Manchester Township, based on the results of a...

 on May 6, 1937, killing 35 of the 97 people aboard. Previous spectacular airship accidents, from the Wingfoot Express
Wingfoot Air Express Crash
The Wingfoot Air Express was a dirigible that crashed into the Illinois Trust and Savings Building in Chicago on Monday July 21, 1919. The Type FD dirigible, owned by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was transporting people from Grant Park to the White City amusement park...

disaster (1919) to the loss of the Akron
USS Akron (ZRS-4)
USS Akron was a helium-filled rigid airship of the United States Navy that was lost in a weather-related accident off the New Jersey coast early on April 4, 1933, killing 73 of the 76 crew and passengers on board...

 (1933) and the Macon
USS Macon (ZRS-5)
USS Macon was a rigid airship built and operated by the United States Navy for scouting. She served as a "flying aircraft carrier", launching Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk biplane fighters. In service for less than two years, in 1935 Macon was damaged in a storm and lost off California's Big Sur coast,...

 (1935) had already cast doubt on airship safety; following the destruction of the Hindenburg, the remaining airship making international flights, the Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was a German built and operated passenger-carrying hydrogen-filled rigid airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was a Graf or Count in the German nobility. During its operating life,...

was retired (June 1937); its replacement, the dirigible Graf Zeppelin II, made a number of flights, primarily over Germany, from 1938 to 1939, but was grounded when Germany began World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Both remaining German zeppelins were scrapped in 1940 to supply metal for the German Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

; the last American zeppelin, the Los Angeles
USS Los Angeles (ZR-3)
The second USS Los Angeles was a rigid airship, designated ZR-3, that was built in 1923-1924 by the Zeppelin factory in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where it was originally designated LZ-126...

, which had not flown since 1932, was dismantled in late 1939.

Meanwhile in Germany, who was restricted by the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 in its development of powered aircraft, instead developed gliding
Gliding
Gliding is a recreational activity and competitive air sport in which pilots fly unpowered aircraft known as gliders or sailplanes using naturally occurring currents of rising air in the atmosphere to remain airborne. The word soaring is also used for the sport.Gliding as a sport began in the 1920s...

 as a sport, especially at the Wasserkuppe
Wasserkuppe
The Wasserkuppe is a high plateau , the highest peak in the Rhön Mountains within the German state of Hessen. Between the first and second World Wars, during the era of the so-called Golden Age of Aviation, great advances in sailplane development were made there.Remark: The German wording takes its...

, during the 1920s. In its various forms, this activity now has over 400,000 participants.

In 1929 Jimmy Doolittle developed instrument flight
Flight instruments
Flight instruments are the instruments in the cockpit of an aircraft that provide the pilot with information about the flight situation of that aircraft, such as height, speed and altitude...

.

1929 also saw the first flight of by far the largest plane ever built until then: the Dornier Do X
Dornier Do X
The Dornier Do X was the largest, heaviest, and most powerful flying boat in the world when it was produced by the Dornier company of Germany in 1929. First conceived by Dr. Claudius Dornier in 1924, planning started in late 1925 and after over 240,000 work hours it was completed in June 1929...

 with a wing span of 48 m. On its 70th test flight on October 21 there were 169 people on board, a record that was not broken for 20 years.

In the 1930s development of the jet engine
Jet engine
A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

 began in Germany and in Britain - both countries would go on to develop jet aircraft by the end of World War II.

Progress goes on and massive production, World War II (1939–1945)



World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 saw a drastic increase in the pace of aircraft development and production. All countries involved in the war stepped up development and production of aircraft and flight based weapon delivery systems, such as the first long range bomber. Also air combat tactics and doctrines changed, large scale strategic bombing
Strategic bombing
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...

 campaigns were launched, fighter escorts introduced and the more flexible aircraft and weapons allowed precise attacks on small targets with dive bomber
Dive bomber
A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target reduces the distance the bomb has to fall, which is the primary factor in determining the accuracy of the drop...

s, fighter-bomber
Fighter-bomber
A fighter-bomber is a fixed-wing aircraft with an intended primary role of light tactical bombing and also incorporating certain performance characteristics of a fighter aircraft. This term, although still used, has less significance since the introduction of rockets and guided missiles into aerial...

s, and ground-attack aircraft. New technologies like radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 also allowed more coordinated and controlled deployment of air defense.

The first functional jetplane was the Heinkel He 178
Heinkel He 178
|-See also:*List of firsts in aviation-Bibliography:* Warsitz, Lutz: The First Jet Pilot - The Story of German Test Pilot Erich Warsitz, Pen and Sword Books Ltd., England, 2009, ISBN 9781844158188.-External links:...

 (Germany), flown by Erich Warsitz
Erich Warsitz
Erich Warsitz was a German test pilot of the 1930s. He held the rank of Flight-Captain in the Luftwaffe and was selected by the Reich Air Ministry as chief test pilot at Peenemünde West...

 in 1939, followed by the world's first operational jet aircraft, the Me 262, in July 1942 and world's first jet-powered bomber, the Arado Ar 234
Arado Ar 234
The Arado Ar 234 was the world's first operational jet-powered bomber, built by the German Arado company in the closing stages of World War II. Produced in very limited numbers, it was used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role, but in its few uses as a bomber it proved to be nearly impossible...

, in June 1943. British developments, like the Gloster Meteor
Gloster Meteor
The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. It first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force...

, followed afterwards, but saw only brief use in World War II. The first cruise missile (V-1
V-1 flying bomb
The V-1 flying bomb, also known as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug, was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile....

), the first ballistic missile (V-2
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

), the first (and to date only) operational rocket-powered combat aircraft Me 163
Messerschmitt Me 163
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational. Its design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time. Messerschmitt...

 and the first vertical take-off manned point-defense interceptor Bachem Ba 349
Bachem Ba 349
The Bachem Ba 349 Natter was a World War II German point-defence rocket powered interceptor, which was to be used in a very similar way to a manned surface-to-air missile. After vertical take-off, which eliminated the need for airfields, the majority of the flight to the Allied bombers was to be...

 were also developed by Germany
Vergeltungswaffe
V-weapons also, known in the original German as Vergeltungswaffen , were a particular set of long range artillery weapons designed for strategic bombing during World War II, particularly terror bombing and/or aerial bombing of cities. They comprised the V-1 flying bomb, the V-2 rocket and the V-3...

. However, jet fighters had only limited impact due to their late introduction, fuel shortages, the lack of experienced pilots and the declining war industry of Germany.

Not only airplanes, but also helicopters saw rapid development in the Second World War. With the introduction of the Focke Achgelis Fa 223, the Flettner Fl 282
Flettner Fl 282
|- References :NotesBibliography* Coates, Steve and Jean-Christophe Carbonel. Helicopters of the Third Reich. Crowborough, UK: Classic Publications Ltd., 2002. ISBN 1-903223-24-5....

 in 1941 in Germany and the Sikorsky R-4
Sikorsky R-4
The Sikorsky R-4 was a two-place helicopter designed by Igor Sikorsky with a single, three-bladed main rotor and powered by a radial engine. The R-4 was the world's first large-scale mass-produced helicopter and the first helicopter to enter service with the United States Army Air Forces, Navy, and...

 in 1942 in the USA, for the first time larger helicopter formations were produced and deployed.

1945–1991: The Cold War



After World War II, commercial aviation
Commercial aviation
Commercial aviation is the part of civil aviation that involves operating aircraft for hire to transport passengers or cargo...

 grew rapidly, using mostly ex-military aircraft to transport people and cargo. This growth was accelerated by the glut of heavy and super-heavy bomber airframes like the B-29 and Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...

 that could be converted into commercial aircraft. The DC-3 also made for easier and longer commercial flights. The first commercial jet airliner to fly was the British De Havilland Comet
De Havilland Comet
The de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the world's first commercial jet airliner to reach production. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland at the Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom headquarters, it first flew in 1949 and was a landmark in aeronautical design...

. By 1952, the British state airline BOAC
British Overseas Airways Corporation
The British Overseas Airways Corporation was the British state airline from 1939 until 1946 and the long-haul British state airline from 1946 to 1974. The company started life with a merger between Imperial Airways Ltd. and British Airways Ltd...

 had introduced the De Havilland Comet
De Havilland Comet
The de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the world's first commercial jet airliner to reach production. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland at the Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom headquarters, it first flew in 1949 and was a landmark in aeronautical design...

 into scheduled service. While a technical achievement, the plane suffered a series of highly public failures, as the shape of the windows led to cracks due to metal fatigue. The fatigue was caused by cycles of pressurization and depressurization of the cabin, and eventually led to catastrophic failure of the plane's fuselage. By the time the problems were overcome, other jet airliner designs had already taken to the skies.

USSR's Aeroflot
Aeroflot
OJSC AeroflotRussian Airlines , commonly known as Aeroflot , is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation, based on passengers carried per year...

 became the first airline in the world to operate sustained regular jet services on September 15, 1956 with the Tupolev Tu-104
Tupolev Tu-104
The Tupolev Tu-104 was a twin-engined medium-range turbojet-powered Soviet airliner and the world's first successful jet airliner...

. Boeing 707
Boeing 707
The Boeing 707 is a four-engine narrow-body commercial passenger jet airliner developed by Boeing in the early 1950s. Its name is most commonly pronounced as "Seven Oh Seven". The first airline to operate the 707 was Pan American World Airways, inaugurating the type's first commercial flight on...

, which established new levels of comfort, safety and passenger expectations, ushered in the age of mass commercial air travel, dubbed the Jet Age
Jet age
The Jet Age is a period of history defined by the social change brought about by the advent of large aircraft powered by turbine engines. These aircraft are able to fly much higher, faster, and farther than older piston-powered propliners, making transcontinental and inter-continental travel...

.

In October 1947 Chuck Yeager
Chuck Yeager
Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound...

 took the rocket-powered Bell X-1
Bell X-1
The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA-U.S. Army/US Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948...

 broke the sound barrier
Sound barrier
The sound barrier, in aerodynamics, is the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term, which occasionally has other meanings, came into use during World War II, when a number of aircraft started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several...

. Although anecdotal evidence exists that some fighter pilots may have done so while divebombing ground targets during the war, this was the first controlled, level flight to cross the sound barrier. Further barriers of distance fell in 1948 and 1952 with the first jet crossing of the Atlantic and the first nonstop flight to Australia.

The 1945 appearance of nuclear bomb briefly increased the strategical importance of military aircraft in the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 between East and West. Even a moderate fleet of long-range bomber
Bomber
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.-Classifications of bombers:...

s could deliver deadly blow to the enemy, so great effort have been put to develop countermeasures. At first, the supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 interceptor aircraft
Interceptor aircraft
An interceptor aircraft is a type of fighter aircraft designed specifically to prevent missions of enemy aircraft, particularly bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Interceptors generally rely on high speed and powerful armament in order to complete their mission as quickly as possible and set up...

 were produced in considerable numbers. By 1955 most development efforts shifted to guided surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

s. However, the approach diametrically changed when a new type of nuclear-carrying platform appeared that could not be stopped in any conceivable way: intercontinental ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

s. The possibility of these was demonstrated in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

 by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. This action started the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

 between the nations.

In 1961, the sky was no longer the limit for manned flight, as Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

 orbited once around the planet within 108 minutes, and then used the descent module of Vostok I
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

 to safely reenter
Atmospheric reentry
Atmospheric entry is the movement of human-made or natural objects as they enter the atmosphere of a celestial body from outer space—in the case of Earth from an altitude above the Kármán Line,...

 the atmosphere and reduce speed from Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 25 using friction and converting velocity into heat. The United States responded by launching Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard
Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. was an American naval aviator, test pilot, flag officer, and NASA astronaut who in 1961 became the second person, and the first American, in space. This Mercury flight was designed to enter space, but not to achieve orbit...

 into space on a suborbital flight in a Mercury
Mercury program
Mercury Program might refer to:*the first successful American manned spaceflight program, Project Mercury*an American post-rock band, The Mercury Program...

 space capsule. With the launch of the Alouette I in 1963, Canada became the third country to send a satellite in space. The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 would ultimately lead to the landing
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 of men on the moon in 1969.

In 1967, the X-15 set the air speed record for an aircraft at 4534 mi/h or Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 6.1 (7,297 km/h). Aside from vehicles designed to fly in outer space, this record was renewed by X-43 in the 21st century.

The Harrier Jump Jet
Harrier Jump Jet
The Harrier, informally referred to as the Jump Jet, is a family of British-designed military jet aircraft capable of vertical/short takeoff and landing operations...

, often referred to as just "Harrier" or "the Jump Jet", is a British designed military jet aircraft capable of Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) via thrust vectoring. It first flew in 1969. The same year that Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

 and Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history...

 set foot on the moon, and Boeing unveiled the Boeing 747
Boeing 747
The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

 and the Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde
Concorde
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

 supersonic passenger airliner had its maiden flight. The Boeing 747 was the largest commercial passenger aircraft ever to fly, and still carries millions of passengers each year, though it has been superseded by the Airbus A380
Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. It is the largest passenger airliner in the world. Due to its size, many airports had to modify and improve facilities to accommodate it...

, which is capable of carrying up to 853 passengers. In 1975 Aeroflot started regular service on the Tu-144—the first supersonic passenger plane. In 1976 British Airways
British Airways
British Airways is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, based in Waterside, near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport. British Airways is the largest airline in the UK based on fleet size, international flights and international destinations...

 began supersonic service across the Atlantic, with Concorde. A few years earlier the SR-71 Blackbird had set the record for crossing the Atlantic in under 2 hours, and Concorde followed in its footsteps.

The last quarter of the 20th century saw a slowing of the pace of advancement. No longer was revolutionary progress made in flight speeds, distances and technology. This part of the century saw the steady improvement of flight avionics
Avionics
Avionics are electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites and spacecraft.Avionic systems include communications, navigation, the display and management of multiple systems and the hundreds of systems that are fitted to aircraft to meet individual roles...

, and a few minor milestones in flight progress.

For example, in 1979 the Gossamer Albatross
Gossamer Albatross
-See also:-Further reading:*Allen, Bryan. Winged Victory of "Gossamer Albatross". National Geographic, November 1979, vol. 156, n. 5, p. 640-651...

 became the first human powered aircraft to cross the English channel. This achievement finally saw the realization of centuries of dreams of human flight. In 1981, the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle Orbiter
The Space Shuttle orbiter was the orbital spacecraft of the Space Shuttle program operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. The orbiter was a reusable winged "space-plane", a mixture of rockets, spacecraft, and aircraft...

 made its first orbital flight, proving that a large rocket ship can take off into space, provide a pressurised life support system for several days, reenter the atmosphere at orbital speed, precision glide to a runway and land like a plane.

In 1986 Dick Rutan
Dick Rutan
Richard Glenn "Dick" Rutan is an aviator who piloted the Voyager aircraft around the world non-stop with co-pilot Jeana Yeager...

 and Jeana Yeager
Jeana Yeager
Jeana Yeager is an aviator. She is most famous for co-piloting a non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world in the Rutan Voyager aircraft from 14 to 23 December 1986. The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds and covered 24,986 miles , more than doubling the old distance record set by...

 flew an aircraft, the Rutan Voyager, around the world unrefuelled, and without landing. In 1999 Bertrand Piccard
Bertrand Piccard
Bertrand Piccard is a Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist.Born in Lausanne, Vaud canton, Bertrand Piccard, along with Brian Jones, was the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe...

 became the first person to circle the earth in a balloon. Focus was turning to the ultimate conquest of space and flight at faster than the speed of sound. The ANSARI X PRIZE
Ansari X Prize
The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks...

 inspired entrepreneurs and space enthusiasts to build their own rocket ships to fly faster than sound and climb into the lower reaches of space.

2001–present



In commercial aviation, the early 21st century saw the end of an era with the retirement of Concorde
Concorde
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

. Only commercially viable in niche markets, the planes were required to fly over the oceans if they wanted to break the sound barrier. Concorde was fuel hungry and could carry a limited amount of passengers due to its highly streamlined design. Nevertheless, it seems to have made a significant operating profit for British Airways
British Airways
British Airways is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, based in Waterside, near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport. British Airways is the largest airline in the UK based on fleet size, international flights and international destinations...

.

In the beginning of the 21st century, subsonic military aviation focused on eliminating the pilot in favor of remotely operated or completely autonomous vehicles. Several unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s or UAVs have been developed. In April 2001 the unmanned aircraft Global Hawk flew from Edwards AFB in the US to Australia non-stop and unrefuelled. This is the longest point-to-point flight ever undertaken by an unmanned aircraft, and took 23 hours and 23 minutes. In October 2003 the first totally autonomous flight across the Atlantic by a computer-controlled model aircraft occurred.

The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission was established in 1999 to encourage the broadest national and international participation in the celebration of 100 years of powered flight. It publicized and encouraged a number of programs, projects and events intended to educate people about the history of aviation.

Major disruptions to air travel
Air travel
Air travel is a form of travel in vehicles such as airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons, blimps, gliders, hang gliding, parachuting or anything else that can sustain flight.-Domestic and international flights:...

 in the 21st century included the closing of U.S. airspace due to the September 11 attacks, and the closing of most of European airspace after the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.

See also



  • Aviation archaeology
    Aviation archaeology
    Aviation archaeology is a recognized sub-discipline within archaeology and underwater archaeology as a whole. It is an activity practiced by both enthusiasts and academics in pursuit of finding, documenting, recovering, and preserving sites important in aviation history...

  • Early flying machines
    Early flying machines
    This article is an overview of early flying machines and aviation research, and an analysis of the debates over early flying machines. The goal is to examine the properties of flying machines, and to list the claims to allow a proper analysis of all the early flying machines...

  • First flying machine
    First flying machine
    There are conflicting views as to what was the first flying machine.Much of the debate surrounding records of early flying machines depends on the exact definition of what constitutes a "flying machine", "flight", and even "first"....

  • Timeline of aviation
    Timeline of aviation
    This article does not contain direct references or citations but it builds upon other articles in Wikipedia which you can find in the links and in the year by year articles to the left. Those articles have references and citations...

  • List of firsts in aviation

Further reading


  • * Includes photos, diagrams and specifications of many c. 1910 aircraft. Includes photos and specifics of many c. 1908 dirigibles and aeroplanes.


External links