Aeronautics (from the ancient Greek words ὰήρ āēr, which means "air", and ναυτική nautikē which means "navigation", i.e. "navigation of the air") is the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines, or the techniques of operating aircraft and rocketry within the atmosphere. While the term—literally meaning "sailing the air"—originally referred solely to the science of operating the aircraft,it has since been expanded to include technology, business and other aspects related to aircraft.
One of the significant parts in aeronautics is a branch of physical science called aerodynamics, which deals with the motion of air and the way that it interacts with objects in motion, such as an aircraft. The term "aviation" is sometimes used interchangeably with aeronautics, although "aeronautics" includes lighter-than-air craft such as airships, and includes ballistic vehicles while "aviation" does not.
The first mention of aeronautics in history came in the writings of ancient Egyptians who described the flight of birds. Aeronautics also finds mention in ancient China where people flew kites thousands of years ago. The medieval Islamic scientists were not far behind, as they understood the actual mechanism of bird flight. Before scientific investigation of aeronautics started, people started thinking of ways to fly. In a Greek legend, Icarus and his father Daedalus built wings of feathers and wax and flew out of prison. (Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted, and he fell into the sea and drowned.) When people started to study scientifically how to fly, people began to understand the basics of air and aerodynamics. Ibn Firnas may have tried to fly in the 8th century in Cordoba, Al-Andalus.
Other early Europeans to study aeronautics included Roger Bacon and Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo studied the flight of birds in developing engineering schematics for some of the earliest flying machines in the late fifteenth century. His schematics, however, such as that for the ornithopter, ultimately failed as practical aircraft. The flapping machines that he designed were either too small to generate sufficient lift, or too heavy for a human being to operate.
Although hobbyists continue to show interest in the ornithopter, aeronautics research in the 19th century came to focus on the glider. Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) became "one of the most important people in the history of aeronautics. Many consider him the first true scientific aerial investigator and the first person to understand the underlying principles and forces of flight." A pioneer of aeronautical engineering, he is credited as the first person to separate the forces of lift and drag which are in effect on any flight vehicle,
Francesco Lana de Terzi (1631-1687), a Jesuit professor of physics and mathematics from Brescia, Lombardy, has been referred to as the Father of Aeronautics. In his work Prodromo dell'Arte Maestra (1670) he proposes a lighter-than-air vessel based on logical deductions from previous work ranging from Archimedes and Euclid to his contemporaries Robert Boyle (1627-1691) and Otto von Guericke (1602-1686).
Early aviation research
Many cultures have built devices that travel through the air, from the earliest projectiles such as stones and spears, the boomerang in Australia, the hot air Kongming lantern, and kites. There are early legends of human flight such as the story of Icarus, and Jamshid in Persian myth, and later, somewhat more credible claims of short-distance human flights appear, such as the flying automaton of Archytas of Tarentum (428–347 BC), the winged flights of Abbas Ibn Firnas (810–887), Eilmer of Malmesbury (11th century), and the hot-air Passarola of Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão (1685–1724).
The modern age of aviation began with the first untethered human lighter-than-air flight on November 21, 1783, in a hot air balloon designed by the Montgolfier brothers. The practicality of balloons was limited because they could only be controlled vertically. It was immediately recognized that a steerable, or dirigible, balloon was required. Jean-Pierre Blanchard flew the first human-powered dirigible in 1784 and crossed the English Channel in one in 1785.
In 1799 Sir George Cayley set forth the concept of the modern airplane as a fixed-wing flying machine with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control. Early dirigible developments included machine-powered propulsion (Henri Giffard, 1852), rigid frames (David Schwarz, 1896), and improved speed and maneuverability (Alberto Santos-Dumont, 1901)
While there are many competing claims for the earliest powered, heavier-than-air flight, the most widely accepted date is December 17, 1903 by the Wright brothers. The Wright brothers were the first to fly in a powered and controlled aircraft. Previous flights were gliders (control but no power) or free flight (power but no control), but the Wright brothers combined both, setting the new standard in aviation records. Following this, the widespread adoption of ailerons versus wing warping made aircraft much easier to control, and only eleven years later, at the start of World War I, heavier-than-air powered aircraft had become practical for reconnaissance, artillery spotting, even attacks against ground positions and attacking other aircraft.
Aircraft began to transport people and cargo as designs grew larger and more reliable. In contrast to small non-rigid blimps, giant rigid airships became the first aircraft to transport passengers and cargo over great distances. The best known aircraft of this type were manufactured by the German Zeppelin company.
The most successful Zeppelin was the Graf Zeppelin. It flew over one million miles, including an around-the-world flight in August 1929. However, the dominance of the Zeppelins over the aeroplanes of that period, which had a range of only a few hundred miles, was diminishing as aeroplane design advanced. The "Golden Age" of the airships ended on May 6, 1937 when the Hindenburg caught fire, killing 36 people. Although there have been periodic initiatives to revive their use, airships have seen only niche application since that time.
Great progress was made in the field of aviation during the 1920s and 1930s, such as Charles Lindbergh's solo transatlantic flight in 1927, and Charles Kingsford Smith's transpacific flight the following year. One of the most successful designs of this period was the Douglas DC-3, which became the first airliner that was profitable carrying passengers exclusively, starting the modern era of passenger airline service. By the beginning of World War II, many towns and cities had built space, and there were numerous qualified pilots available. The war brought many innovations to aviation, including the first jet aircraft and the first liquid-fueled rockets.
After World War II, especially in North America, there was a boom in general aviation, both private and commercial, as thousands of pilots were released from military service and many inexpensive war-surplus transport and training aircraft became available. Manufacturers such as Cessna, Piper, and Beechcraft expanded production to provide light aircraft for the new middle-class market.
By the 1950s, the development of civil jets grew, beginning with the de Havilland Comet, though the first widely used passenger jet was the Boeing 707, because it was much more economical than other planes at the time. At the same time, turboprop propulsion began to appear for smaller commuter planes, making it possible to serve small-volume routes in a much wider range of weather conditions.
Since the 1960s, composite airframes and quieter, more efficient engines have become available, and Concorde provided supersonic passenger service for more than two decades, but the most important lasting innovations have taken place in instrumentation and control. The arrival of solid-state electronics, the Global Positioning System, satellite communications, and increasingly small and powerful computers and LED displays, have dramatically changed the cockpits of airliners and, increasingly, of smaller aircraft as well. Pilots can navigate much more accurately and view terrain, obstructions, and other nearby aircraft on a map or through synthetic vision, even at night or in low visibility.
On June 21, 2004, Space Ship One became the first privately funded aircraft to make a spaceflight, opening the possibility of an aviation market capable of leaving the Earth's atmosphere. Meanwhile, flying prototypes of aircraft powered by alternative fuels, such as ethanol, electricity, and even solar energy, are becoming more common and may soon enter the mainstream, at least for light aircraft.
A rocket or rocket vehicle is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction. Rocket engines push rockets forwards simply by throwing their exhaust backwards extremely fast.
Rockets for military and recreational uses date back to at least 13th century China. Significant scientific, interplanetary and industrial use did not occur until the 20th century, when rocketry was the enabling technology of the Space Age, including setting foot on the moon.
Rockets are used for fireworks, weaponry, ejection seats, launch vehicles for artificial satellites, human spaceflight and exploration of other planets. While comparatively inefficient for low speed use, they are very lightweight and powerful, capable of generating large accelerations and of attaining extremely high speeds with reasonable efficiency.
Chemical rockets are the most common type of rocket and they typically create their exhaust by the combustion of rocket propellant. Chemical rockets store a large amount of energy in an easily released form, and can be very dangerous. However, careful design, testing, construction and use minimizes risks.
- Aeronautical abbreviations
- Aerospace engineering
- Air safety
- Aircraft design process
- Aircraft flight control system
- Aircraft flight mechanics
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
- Aviation, aerospace, and aeronautical terms
- Aeronautics Defense Systems
- Center of gravity of an aircraft
- Flight control surfaces
- Flight dynamics
- Kite types
- Longitudinal static stability
- The Royal Aeronautical Society
- "Aeronautics". Encyclopedia Americana 1. Grolier. 1986. p. 226.
- First Flights, Saudi Aramco World, January–February 1964, p. 8-9.
- "Sir George Carley". Flyingmachines.org. Retrieved 2009-07-26. "Sir George Cayley is one of the most important people in the history of aeronautics. Many consider him the first true scientific aerial investigator and the first person to understand the underlying principles and forces of flight."
- "Sir George Carley (British Inventor and Scientist)". Britannica. Retrieved 2009-07-26. "English pioneer of aerial navigation and aeronautical engineering and designer of the first successful glider to carry a human being aloft."
- "The Pioneers: Aviation and Airmodelling". Retrieved 2009-07-26. "Sir George Cayley, is sometimes called the 'Father of Aviation'. A pioneer in his field, he is credited with the first major breakthrough in heavier-than-air flight. He was the first to identify the four aerodynamic forces of flight - weight, lift, drag, and thrust - and their relationship and also the first to build a successful human carrying glider."
- "Francesco Lana-Terzi, S.J. (1631-1687); The Father of Aeronautics". Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Archytas of Tar entum, Technology Museum of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece
- Automata history
- "Aviation: Reaching for the Sky". Don Berliner (1997). The Oliver Press, Inc. p.28. ISBN 1-881508-33-1
- "Aviation History". Retrieved 2009-07-26.
- Sutton, George (2001). "1". Rocket Propulsion Elements (7th ed.). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-32642-7.
- MSFC History Office "Rockets in Ancient Times (100 B.C. to 17th Century)"
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Aeronautics.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Aeronautics|
|Look up aeronautics in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's How Things Fly website
- Aeronautics History in Turkey
- Aeronautics History - Charles Vivian - 1920 (eLibrary Project - eLib full text)
- Aerospace courses at MIT OpenCourseWare
- American Academy of Aeronautics aeronautical science
- American Helicopter Society
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
- Examples of Aeronautic Designs
- What is aeronautics? The history of world Aeronautics (Russian)
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- ACARE Taxonomy
- CREating innovative Air transport Technologies for Europe