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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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CG render of McDonnell Douglas MD-11 HB-IWF
Swissair Flight 111 was a Swissair McDonnell Douglas MD-11 on a scheduled airline flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, United States to Cointrin International Airport in Geneva, Switzerland. This flight was also a codeshare flight with Delta Air Lines. On Wednesday, 2 September 1998, the aircraft used for the flight, registered HB-IWF, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Halifax International Airport at the entrance to St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia. The crash site was 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from shore, roughly equidistant from the tiny fishing and tourist communities of Peggys Cove and Bayswater. All 229 people on board died—the highest death toll of any aviation accident involving a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and the second-highest of any air disaster in the history of Canada, after Arrow Air Flight 1285. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada's (TSB) official report of their investigation stated that flammable material used in the aircraft's structure allowed a fire to spread beyond the control of the crew, resulting in a loss of control and the crash of the aircraft. Swissair Flight 111 was known as the "U.N. shuttle" due to its popularity with United Nations officials; the flight often carried business executives, scientists, and researchers.

Selected picture

A Bell 212 with a helicopter bucket
Credit: Mila Zinkova

A Bell 212 Twin Huey carrying a helicopter bucket, a specialized bucket suspended on a cable to deliver water for helitack operations, which is aerial firefighting using helicopters. Helitack crews are used to attack a wildfire and gain early control of it, especially when inaccessibility would make it difficult or impossible for ground crews to respond in the same amount of time.

...Archive/Nominations

Did you know

...that among the earliest accounts of the use of a man-lifting kite is in the story of Ishikawa Goemon's robbery from Nagoya Castle?

...that the fighter pilot Aleksandr Kazakov destroyed 32 German and Austro-Hungarian planes during WWI, while his formal tally of 17 is explained by the fact that only planes crashed in the Russian-held territory were officially counted?

... that former USAF officer David P. Cooley who was the chief test pilot for the F-117 Nighthawk died in March 2009 while testing the F-22 Raptor?

Selected Aircraft

An ERJ-145 of BA CitiExpress (now BA Connect) takes off from Bristol Airport (UK)

The Embraer ERJ-145 is a regional jet produced by Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace company. The ERJ 145 is the largest of a family of airliners, which also includes the ERJ 135, ERJ 140, and Legacy. All aircraft in the series are powered by two turbofan engines. It is one of the most popular regional jet families in the world with primary competition coming from the Canadair Regional Jet.

The first flight of the ERJ 145 was on August 11, 1995, with the first delivery in December 1996 to ExpressJet Airlines (then the regional division of Continental Airlines). ExpressJet is the largest operator of the ERJ 145, with 270 of the nearly 1000 ERJ 145s in service. The second largest operator is American Eagle, with 206 ERJ 145 aircraft. Chautauqua Airlines also operates 95 ERJ 145s through its alliances with American Connection, Delta Connection, US Airways Express and United Express. By some accounts, the ERJ 145 has a cost of ownership of about $2,500,000 per year.

  • Span: 20.04 m (65 ft 9 in)
  • Length: 29.9 m (98 ft 0 in)
  • Height: 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in)
  • Engines: 2× Rolls-Royce AE 3007A turbofans, 33.0 kN (7,420 lbf) thrust each
  • Cruising Speed: 834 km/h (518 mph, Mach 0.78)
  • First Flight: August 11, 1995
  • Number built: ≈1000

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Selected biography

Jeana Yeager (born May 18, 1952 in Fort Worth, Texas) is an aviator, most famous for flying with Dick Rutan on a non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world in the Voyager aircraft from December 14 to December 23, 1986. The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds and covered 24,986 miles (40,211 km), more than doubling the old distance record. She received the US annual Harmon Trophy for outstanding international achievements in the aeronautics, and is the first woman recipient of the Collier Trophy for "the greatest achievement in aeronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety" of aircraft.

Despite her surname, Jeana Yeager is not related to Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight.

In the news

Today in Aviation

April 20

  • 2011 – Launch of Elektro-L No.1, also known as Geostationary Operational Meteorological Satellite No.2 or GOMS No.2, Russian geostationary weather satellite.
  • 2011 – Launch of SA-224, also known as NRO Launch 49 (NRO L-49), American reconnaissance satellite.
  • 2010 – A Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin of the US Coast Guard crashed into Lake Huron nine miles (14 km) north of Port Huron, Michigan.
  • 2010 – While performing maneuvers, a Vertical de Aviación Bell 222UT helicopter, registered HK-3262, and a Fuerza Aérea de Colombia (Colombian Air Force) MD Helicopters MD530 crashed on a military garrison near Chaparral, Tolima, Colombia.
  • 2009 – Royal Air Maroc Flight 200, operated by Boeing 767-36NER CN-RNT is substantially damaged in a heavy landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Cracks are discovered in the forward fuselage on inspection.
  • 2008 – In an effort to raise money for a spiritual rest stop for truckers in Paranagua, Brazil, and to break the existing 19-hour record for a flight suspended by helium balloons, Brazilian priest Adelir Antonio de Carli lifts off from Paranagua for a flight inland to Dourados, over 725 km (450 mi) to the northwest, suspended under 1,000 brightly colored party balloons. Rising to as high as 20,000 feet (6,096 m), he is swept backward out over the Atlantic Ocean and disappears about eight hours after takeoff. Some of his balloons are found floating intact in the sea two days later, and his body will be found floating in the Atlantic 700 km (435 mi) northeast of Paranagua near Maricá, Brazil, on 4 July.
  • 2002 – During the NAS Point Mugu air show (Point Mugu, California), the pilot and radar intercept officer are killed when their United States Navy McDonnell-Douglas QF-4S+ Phantom II, BuNo 155749, stalls and crashes after pulling away from a diamond formation. Both eject but chutes do not have time to deploy. The Navy report states in part: "The cause of this tragic accident was the failure of the pilot to manage the energy state of the aircraft, and then to recognize a departure from controlled flight at low altitude, and apply the NATOPS recovery techniques." This Phantom II was credited with a MiG-17 kill 10 May 1972 with VF-96.
  • 1998Air France Flight 422, a Boeing 727 leased from TAME Airlines, crashed into the mountains east of Bogotá, Colombia on takeoff from El Dorado International Airport of Bogotá in foggy weather. All 53 passengers and crew perish.
  • 1997 – A new balloon absolute distance record of 16,722 km (10,363 miles) is set by Steve Fossett, during his unsuccessful non-stop, round the world flight, which he is forced to abandon in India.
  • 1996 – STS-72, Space shuttle mission, recovers in space the Japanese spacecraft 'Space Flyer Unit' and lands back on earth.
  • 1992 – Air Inter Flight 148 Airbus A320-111 crashes near Strasbourg, France, killing 82 passengers and 5 crew.
  • 1989 – Doru Davidovici, Romanian poet and pilot, loses his life, together with Dumitru Petra, this date, when their MiG-21UM trainer crashes during landing procedures while returning home to RoAF 86th Air Base, Borcea-Fetesti AFB, from a training flight.
  • 1988 – Death of Robert Miles Todd, American WWI flying ace.
  • 1985 – USAF North American CT-39 Sabreliner suffering from defective brakes, runs off runway at Wilkes-Barre-Scranton International Airport, Pennsylvania, goes down 125-foot embankment, burns, killing all five on board.
  • 1982 – Lockheed F-117A, 80-785, crashes on take-off on its first test flight at Groom Lake, Nevada, due to crossed wiring of the yaw controls, coming to rest inverted adjacent to the runway. Lockheed test pilot Bob Ridenhauer survives with serious injuries and retires from test flying. He has to be cut out of the overturned cockpit section. This was the first loss of a production Nighthawk and occurred prior to Air Force acceptance. This was almost exactly the same wiring mistake that caused the loss of a Lockheed A-12 on 28 December 1965.
  • 1980 – Death of André Dubonnet, French WWI flying ace, WWII fighter pilot, athlete, racecar driver, and inventor.
  • 1979 – Two USAF General Dynamics F-111F-CFs of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, 70-2367, c/n E2-06 / F-06, and 73-0714, c/n E2-90 / F-90, based at RAF Lakenheath, suffer mid-air off the Scottish coast while on a training mission over the Dornoch Firth's Tain bombing range, all four crew surviving in what was described as a double "miracle" escape. Both crews escape in each plane's two-seat crew ejection modules. Flotation bags on the Peluso/Schlitt module became partially dislodged soon after landing and the module submerged under several feet of water. The other crew module became inverted immediately after hitting the water and remained inverted on the water's surface until the arrival of a fishing vessel. At that time the crew activated self-righting bags that partially righted the module. The crew then exited the module and, assisted by a RAF rescue parajumper, climbed aboard the fishing vessel before being hoisted to a RAF rescue helicopter. The fishing vessel arrived in the area of the crew modules approximately 40 minutes after the collision, with the rescue helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth arriving several minutes later. A Nimrod maritime patrol plane monitored from overhead. All four crew were flown by helicopter to RAF Lossiemouth, 40 miles NE of Inverness. All four returned to Lakenheath later that day. They were identified as Capt. Stephen R. Ruttman, of Norman, Oklahoma, Capt. Timothy A. Schlitt, of Afton, Missouri, Capt. Roger L. Webb, of Staunton, Virginia, and Capt. Joseph Peluso, of Rosedale, New York, all of them 28.
  • 1978Korean Air Lines Flight 902, a Boeing 707, is shot down by Soviet fighter planes; the plane crash-lands near the Soviet Union's border with Finland; two of the 109 people on board are killed, the rest were subsequently released.
  • 1977 – Death of Ernest Archibald "Ernie" McNab, Canadian WWII fighter pilot, first scoring pilot for the RCAF in WWII.
  • 1975 – Death of Howard Burdick, American WWI flying ace.
  • 1975 – A Boeing 707, commandeered by three terrorists and flown by a crew of Air France volunteers, lands in Baghdad, Iraq. The terrorists forced the French airline to fly them out of Paris by taking ten travelers hostage yesterday, at Orly airport.
  • 1974 – First 'accidental' flight of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, US multi-role jet fighter aircraft, during a high-speed taxi test. While gathering speed, a roll-control oscillation caused a fin of the port-side wingtip-mounted missile and then the starboard stabilizer to scrape the ground, and the aircraft then began to veer off the runway. The GD test pilot, Phil Oestricher, decided to lift off to avoid crashing the machine, and safely landed it six minutes later.
  • 1969 – Death of Arthur Eyguem De Montaigne 'Jacko' Jarvis, Canadian WWI flying ace.
  • 1968South African Airways Flight 228, a Boeing 707, crashes just after takeoff from Strijdom International Airport, Windhoek, South West Africa (now Namibia) due to pilot error; of the 128 on board, only 5 survive.
  • 1967 – American aircraft attack powerplants in Haiphong, North Vietnam, for the first time.
  • 1965 – Death of Ludwig "Lutz" Beckmann, German WWI flying ace.
  • 1965 – Death of Friedrich Hefty, Austro-Hungarian WWI flying ace.
  • 1959 – Aeroflot puts the 84 to 110-seater Ilyushin IL-18, its first turboprop, into service from Moscow to Alma Ata, Kazakhstan, and Adler, now Sochi, on the Black Sea.
  • 1959 – First flight of the Vickers Vanguard, a British short/medium-range turboprop airliner, development of the Vickers Viscount.
  • 1952 – Death of Ronald Malcolm Fletcher, British WWI observer/gunner ace in two-seater fighters in conjunction with his pilot, Lt. S. F. H. Thompson.
  • 1949 – Crash of a Lockheed F-80A Shooting Star kills Col. Robert Lewis Coffey, Jr., USAF Reserve, while on take-off from Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, at 1640 hrs. during cross-country proficiency flight. Coffey, a World War II ace (six victories) during 97 missions in the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, and deputy group commander of the 365th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force, who had been shot down and evaded capture, had resigned his regular commission to enter politics. He was elected to the 81st United States Congress (D-Pa.) and was on an Air Force training flight while the House was in recess when he died at age 30. He and fellow Hell Hawks pilot William D. Ritchie had departed Kirtland after refuelling for March AFB, California, but due to apparent engine failure on take-off, the fighter never rose above 25 feet, skidded off end of runway, cartwheeled across an arroyo, and broke apart but did not burn. Coffey was killed instantly. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The House of Representatives recesses for one day in his honor.
  • 1948 – Birth of Jerry Lynn Ross, USAF pilot and NASA astronaut.
  • 1945 – A Swordfish from the Merchant Aircraft Carrier (or “MAC-ship”) MV Empire MacAndrew drops two depth charges on a periscope sighting position in the last attack on a submarine by a MAC-ship’s aircraft. During World War II, no submarine makes a successful attack against a convoy containing a MAC-ship. MAC-ship aircraft have attacked 12 German submarines; although they never sink one, their activities have proven very effective in convoy defense.
  • 1943 – Led personally by the commander of the Seventh Air Force, Major General Willis H. Hale, 22 U. S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberators from Funafuti bomb and photograph Nauru. Japanese aircraft follow them home and attack Funafuti early on April 21, destroying two B-24 s and killing six men.
  • 1942 – In Operation Calendar, the U. S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) flies off 46 Spitfires to Malta. Detecting their arrival with radar, Fligerkorps II immediately attacks their airfields, destroying almost all of them within three days.
  • 1942 – First official demonstration of the helicopter in the United States.
  • 1941 – Death of Frederick Erastus Humphreys, American aviator, one of the original three military pilots trained by the Wright brothers and the first to fly solo.
  • 1940 – The Brazilian Air Force, originally founded in 1908 as the Brazilian Army Balloon Corp, adopts its current title, Fôrça Aeréa Brasileira.
  • 1938 – A Flight Refueling Ltd Armstrong Whitworth AW.23 refuels an Imperial Airways Short Empire over Southampton Water.
  • 1937 – A new Nationalist advance begins in Vizcaya province in northern Spain, supported by a preliminary aerial bombardment.
  • 1935 – The first passengers leave for Australia on a new Imperial Airways/QANTAS service; the first Australian departures were made from Brisbane on April 17.
  • 1934 – First flight of the Boeing P-29 (originated as the Model 264), US Fighter prototype, fully-cantilever wings, wing flaps, enclosed "greenhouse" canopy, and retractable undercarriage.
  • 1933 – Consolidated P-30 prototype XA-11 attack version crashed during flight testing killing Lieut. Irvin A. Woodring.
  • 1932 – Imperial Airways' Handley Page H. P.42 'Helena' leaves Croydon, England, for Paris on the first leg of the company's new mail service to Cape Town.
  • 1932 – Charles Scott takes off for a new solo speed record between the UK and Darwin, in a de Havilland Gipsy Moth
  • 1930 – Birth of Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr.), American mechanical engineer, USAF pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, first manned lunar landing in history.
  • 1928 – Death of George Augustine Taylor, Australian artist, journalist, and aviation pioneer, first person in Australia to fly in a heavier-than-air craft.
  • 1920 – The first civilian aircraft to be registered in Canada was (G-CAAA) registered in Sask. to Aerial Service Company of Regina.
  • 1920 – Birth of Ferruccio Serafini, WWII Italian fighter ace.
  • 1919 – Richard Hillary, Australian Spitfire pilot and author, was born (d. 1943). Hillary was a Battle of Britain pilot who died during World War II. He is best known for his book The Last Enemy, based upon his experiences during the Battle of Britain.
  • 1918 – Manfred von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims marking his final victories before his death the following day.
  • 1913 – Attempting to establish a new women's altitude record, Bernetta Miller is covered with oil and temporarily blinded when her oil flow indicator smashes. She makes a safe emergency landing in New York.
  • 1913 – Birth of Gheorghe Popescu-Ciocanel, Romanian WWII fighter ace.
  • 1896 – Birth of James Dudley Beane, American WWI flying ace.
  • 1893 – Birth of Howard John Thomas Saint, Welsch WWI flying ace.
  • 1892] – Birth of Ludwig Hanstein, German WWI fighter ace.
  • 1890 – Birth of Arthur Whitehair "Wiggy" Vigers, British WWI fighter ace, third ranking of the aces who flew the Sopwith Dolphin.
  • 1890 – Birth of Pierre Henri Edmond Dufaur de Gavardie, French WWI flying ace.
  • 1889 – Birth of Allan Haines Loughead, later changed to Allan Haines Lockheed, American aviation pioneer and engineer. He formed the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company along with his brother, Malcolm Loughead that became Lockheed Corporation.
  • 1889 – Birth of Alfred Mohr, German WWI flying ace.
  • 1888 – Birth of Jens Tryggve Herman Gran DSC, MC, Norwegian aviator, explorer and author, first pilot to cross the North Sea.
  • 1861 – Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, American inventor and balloonist, makes a balloon trip from Cincinnati, Ohio to the South Carolina coast in 9 hours.


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