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The Aviation Portal

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Aviation, or air transport, refers to the activities surrounding mechanical flight and the aircraft industry. Aircraft includes fixed-wing and rotary-wing types, morphable wings, wing-less lifting bodies, parachutes, as well as lighter-than-air craft such as balloons and airships. Aviation began in the 18th century with the development of the hot air balloon, an apparatus capable of atmospheric displacement through buoyancy. Some of the most significant advancements in aviation technology came with the controlled gliding flying of Otto Lilienthal; then a largest step in significance came with the construction of the first powered airplane by the Wright brothers in the early 1900s. Since that time, aviation has been technologically revolutionized with the introduction of the jet which permitted a major form of transport throughout the world.

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Air Force One
Air Force One (the ATC callsign of any U.S. Air Force aircraft carrying the President) has, since 1990, consisted of two specifically-configured, highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft. The planes' three floors (4,000 square feet – 372 m²) include multiple modifications including the president's executive suite which includes a private dressing room, workout room, lavatory, shower, and private office.

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The controlled impact demonstration
Credit: NASA

On December 1, 1984, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted the Controlled Impact Demonstration, where they deliberately crashed a Boeing 720 aircraft with the intent of improving occupant crash survivability. Seen left-to-right, top-to-bottom, the plane makes a practice approach, hits the ground, slides for a short distance, strikes posts cemented in the ground, and becomes engulfed in flames.

...Archive/Nominations

Did you know

...that George H.W. Bush flew a TBF Avenger while he was in the U.S. Navy?

...that the Alexander Aircraft Company, which produced Eaglerock biplanes in Colorado, was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world for a brief period between 1928 and 1929?

...that Royal Brunei Catering, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Brunei Airlines, was named as Best Regional Caterer 1995/1996 by Singapore Airlines?

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B-17 on bomb run.jpg

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 planes, the airplane outperformed both the other entries and the Air Corps' expectations. Although losing the contract due to an accident, the Air Corps was so in favor of the B-17 that they ordered 13 B-17s regardless. Evolving through numerous design stages, from B-17A to G, the Flying Fortress is considered the first truly mass-produced large aircraft. From its pre-war inception, the USAAC touted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a high-flying, long-ranging potent bomber capable of defending itself. With the ability to return home despite extensive battle damage, its durability, especially in belly-landings and ditchings, quickly took on mythical proportions.

The B-17 was primarily involved in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial targets. The United States Eighth Air Force based in England and the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy complemented the RAF Bomber Command's night-time area bombing in Operation Pointblank, which helped secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for Operation Overlord. The B-17 also participated, to a lesser extent, in the War in the Pacific.

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Erich Alfred "Bubi" Hartmann (19 April 1922 – 20 September 1993), also nicknamed "The Blond Knight of Germany" by friends and "The Black Devil" by his enemies, was a German fighter pilot and still is the highest scoring fighter ace in the history of aerial combat. He scored 352 aerial victories (of which 345 were won against the Soviet Air Force, and 260 of which were fighters) in 1,404 combat missions and engaging in aerial combat 825 times while serving with the Luftwaffe in World War II. During the course of his career Hartmann was forced to crash land his damaged fighter 14 times. This was due to damage received from parts of enemy aircraft he had just shot down, or mechanical failure. Hartmann was never shot down or forced to land due to enemy fire.[1]

Hartmann, a pre-war glider pilot, joined the Luftwaffe in 1940 and completed his fighter pilot training in 1942. He was posted to Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) on the Eastern front and was fortunate to be placed under the supervision of some of the Luftwaffe's most experienced fighter pilots. Under their guidance Hartmann steadily developed his tactics which would earn him the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 25 August 1944 for claiming 301 aerial victories.

He scored his 352nd and last aerial victory on 8 May 1945. He and the remainder of JG 52 surrendered to United States Army forces and were turned over to the Red Army. Convicted of false "War Crimes" and sentenced to 25 years of hard labour, Hartmann would spend 10 years in various Soviet prison camps and gulags until he was released in 1955. In 1956, Hartmann joined the newly established West German Luftwaffe and became the first Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 71 "Richthofen". Hartmann resigned early from the Bundeswehr in 1970, largely due to his opposition of the F-104 Starfighter deployment in the Bundesluftwaffe and the resulting clashes with his superiors over this issue. Erich Hartmann died in 1993.

In the news

Today in Aviation

July 25

  • 2011 – NATO aircraft strike various targets in Ziltan, Libya. The Libyan government claims that they struck a health clinic, a food-storage complex, and a military base and killed at least 11 civilians. NATO later rejects the claims, saying its planes hit a command-and-control node and a vehicle storage facility.[2]
  • 2008Qantas Flight 30, a Boeing 747-438 en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne, performs an emergency descent and lands in Manila after a hull penetration results in rapid decompression. All aboard survive.
  • 2000Air France Flight 4590 Concorde crashes during takeoff from Paris, France after its fuel tank catches fire, killing 9 crew and 101 passengers as well as four on the ground; the entire Concorde fleet is grounded for one year.
  • 1984 – Cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first woman to perform a space walk, floating around the Salyut 7 space station for over 3 1/2 hours.
  • 1973 – The Soviet Union launches Mars 5, the fifth of seven of probes sent to the red planet in the 1960s and 70 s. Mars 5 would reach Mars in February of 1974, where it would transmit about 60 photos back to Earth before losing pressurization.
  • 1962 – The US Army forms its first armed helicopter company, using UH-1 Hueys
  • 1962 – The third launch attempt of a nuclear warhead in Operation Fishbowl, as part of Operation Dominic, aboard an Douglas SM-75 Thor IRBM, 58-2291, vehicle number 180, from Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean, named Bluegill Prime, after the 2 June 1962 failure of the first attempt, Bluegill, also fails when, due to a sticking valve, the Thor missile malfunctions after ignition of the rocket engine, but before leaving the launch pad. The range safety officer destroys the nuclear warhead by radio command with the missile still on the launch pad. The vehicle then explodes, causing extensive damage in the area of the launch pad. Although there was no danger of an accidental nuclear explosion, the destruction of the nuclear warhead on the pad causes extensive contamination of the area by alpha-emitting radioactive materials. Burning rocket fuel, flowing through the cable trenches, causes extensive chemical contamination of the trenches and the equipment associated with the cabling in the trenches. The radiation contamination on Johnston Island is determined to be a major problem, and it is necessary to decontaminate the entire area before the badly damaged launch pad can be rebuilt. Further launch operations will not resume until 15 October 1962. Although, by definition, this qualifies as a Broken Arrow incident, this test is rarely included in lists of such mishaps.
  • 1952 – French Leduc 0.22-01 ramjet-powered prototype interceptor, repaired following 27 November 1951 landing accident, strikes its SNCASE Languedoc launch aircraft, F-BCUT, on release and is forced to make a belly-landing. Limited range of design causes project to be dropped and second prototype not completed.
  • 1950 – Middle East Airlines “Dakota” aircraft was on its way from Jerusalem to Beirut when an Israeli military aircraft opened fire at the Lebanese-Israeli border. The radio operator “Antoine Wazir” was hit by a deadly bullet while sitting in his chair near the pilot.
  • 1949 – The MacRobertson Miller Aviation Douglas DC-3 airliner Fitzroy, registration VH-MME, crashes on takeoff during a driving rain from Perth, Australia, killing all 18 people on board.
  • 1949 – RCAF World War II ace, Squadron Leader Robert Allen "Bob" Kipp, DSO, DFC, (12 October 1919 - 25 July 1949), commanding officer of No. 410 Squadron, is killed while practicing aerobatics in a de Havilland Vampire F.3 of the Blue Devils demonstration team.
  • 1948 – A Douglas C-47B-15-DK Skytrain, 43-49534, c/n 15350/26795, participating in the Berlin Airlift, departs Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany, strikes apartment building on approach to Berlin and crashes in the street, killing both crew, 1st Lt. Charles H. King, and 1st Lt. Robert W. Stuber.
  • 1947 – First (of two) North American XP-82 Twin Mustangs, 44-83886, c/n 120-43742, of the 611 AAF Base Unit, crash lands at Eglin Field, Florida.
  • 1947 – US Air Force, Navy & War Dept form US Dept of Defense.
  • 1945 – No. 7 Squadron was disbanded.
  • 1944 – Aircraft from the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious strike Sabang, Sumatra.
  • 1943 – 100 U. S. Army Eighth Air Force bombers attack Hamburg.
  • 1943 – (Overnight) – 705 British bombers attack Essen, Germany, causing considerable damage to the Krupp works. Twenty-six British aircraft do not return.
  • 1943 – U. S. Army Fifth Air Force B-25 Mitchell bombers destroy two Japanese destroyers aground on a reef near Cape Gloucester, New Britain.
  • 1940 – (Overnight) 166 British bombers strike German airfields in the Netherlands and targets in the Ruhr.
  • 1938 – The Battle of the Ebro begins in Spain with a Republican offensive. Although Nationalist bombers attack bridges over the Ebro, Nationalist fighters are still deployed in Valencia and Spanish Republican fighter pilots trained in the Soviet Union gain local air superiority flying improved versions of the Polikarpov I-15 and I-16.
  • 1937 – The Battle of Brunete ends. During the 20-day-long battle, the Republicans have lost about 100 aircraft, while the Nationalists have lost 23. The appearance of the German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter and Heinkel He 111 bomber and the Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bomber in numbers during the battle signals the end of Republican air superiority in the Spanish Civil War.
  • 1923 – The first Canadian built amphibian, the Vickers Viking IV, was flown from the St. Lawrence at Montreal.
  • 1915 – Captain Lanoe Hawker of the RFC wins first Victoria Cross for aerial combat, over France.
  • 1909 – Van den Schkrouff makes the first flight in Russia in a Voisin biplane at Odessa.
  • 1909Louis Blériot claims a £1,000 prize from the British Daily Mail newspaper for being the first pilot to cross the English Channel. He makes the crossing in his Blériot Type XI from Les Barraques (near Calais) to Northfall Meadow (near Dover Castle) in 37 min. Blériot also received an additional £3,000 from the French government.


  1. ^ Toliver & Constable 1986, p. 12.
  2. ^ Watson, Ivan; Karadsheh, Jomana (26 July 2011). "Libya's Zlitan Increasingly in Rebel, NATO Sights". CNN. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 

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