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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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Microburst schematic from NASA. Note the downward motion of the air until it hits ground level, then spreads outward in all directions. The wind regime in a microburst is completely opposite to a tornado.
Wind shear, sometimes referred to as windshear or wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed and direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. Wind shear can be broken down into vertical and horizontal components, with horizontal wind shear seen across weather fronts and near the coast, and vertical shear typically near the surface, though also at higher levels in the atmosphere near upper level jets and frontal zones aloft.

Wind shear itself is a microscale meteorological phenomenon occurring over a very small distance, but it can be associated with mesoscale or synoptic scale weather features such as squall lines and cold fronts. It is commonly observed near microbursts and downbursts caused by thunderstorms, weather fronts, areas of locally higher low level winds referred to as low level jets, near mountains, radiation inversions that occur due to clear skies and calm winds, buildings, wind turbines, and sailboats. Wind shear has a significant effect during take-off and landing of aircraft due to their effects on steering of the aircraft, and was a significant cause of aircraft accidents involving large loss of life within the United States.

Sound movement through the atmosphere is affected by wind shear, which can bend the wave front, causing sounds to be heard where they normally would not, or vice versa. Strong vertical wind shear within the troposphere also inhibits tropical cyclone development, but helps to organize individual thunderstorms into living longer life cycles which can then produce severe weather. The thermal wind concept explains with how differences in wind speed with height are dependent on horizontal temperature differences, and explains the existence of the jet stream.

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Refueling, 1923.jpg
Credit: http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/040309-F-9999G-003.jpg

Capt. Lowell H. Smith and Lt. John P. Richter performing the first aerial refueling on 27 June 1923. The Airco DH.4 biplane remained aloft over the skies of Rockwell Field in San Diego, California, for 37 hours. The airfield's logo is visible on the aircraft.

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Did you know

...that BŻ-1 GIL was the first Polish experimental helicopter?

...that Pepsi offered a Harrier fighter jet in their Pepsi Billion Dollar Sweepstakes game and the Pepsi Stuff game for people accumulating a certain number of points?

... that while flying accidents were commonplace at RAAF training establishments during World War II, No. 8 Service Flying Training School's first fatality was from drowning?

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Lufthansa A340-600 D-AIHF.jpg

The Airbus A340 is a long-range four-engined widebody commercial passenger airplane manufactured by Airbus. The latest variants (-600 & A340E) now compete with Boeing's 777 series of aircraft on long-haul and ultra long-haul routes.

The A340-600 flies 380 passengers in a three-class cabin layout (419 in 2 class) over 7,500 nautical miles (13,900 km). It provides similar passenger capacity to a 747 but with twice the cargo volume, and at lower trip and seat costs.

The A340-600 is more than 10 m longer than a basic -300, making it the longest airliner in the world, more than four meters longer than a Boeing 747-400.

  • Span: 63.45 m (208 ft 2 in)
  • Length: 75.30 m n(246 ft 11 in)
  • Height: 17.30 m (56 ft 9 in)
  • Engines: four 56,000 lbf (249 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 556 turbofans
  • Cruising Speed: Mach 0.83 (885 km/h, 550 mph)
  • First Flight: October 25, 1991
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Sophie Blanchard
Sophie Blanchard (25 March 1778 – 6 July 1819) was a French aeronaut and the wife of ballooning pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard. Blanchard was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and after her husband's death she continued ballooning, making more than 60 ascents. Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, Blanchard entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who promoted her to the role of "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals", replacing André-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII, who named her "Official Aeronaut of the Restoration".

Ballooning was a risky business for the pioneers. Blanchard lost consciousness on a few occasions, endured freezing temperatures and almost drowned when her balloon crashed in a marsh. In 1819, she became the first woman to be killed in an aviation accident when, during an exhibition in the Tivoli Gardens in Paris, she launched fireworks that ignited the gas in her balloon. Her craft crashed on the roof of a house and she fell to her death. She is commonly referred to as Madame Blanchard and is also known by many combinations of her maiden and married names, including Madeleine-Sophie Blanchard, Marie Madeleine-Sophie Blanchard, Marie Sophie Armant and Madeleine-Sophie Armant Blanchard.

In the news

Today in Aviation

December 25

  • 2012 – The crew of an Air Bagan Fokker 100 with 71 people on board for a domestic flight in Burma from Rangoon to Heho via Mandalay mistakes a road for the runway while descending to land at Heho in heavy fog, hits power lines, and crash-lands either on the road or in a neaby rice paddy and burns, killing a tour guide and injuring eleven other people aboard the plane. A man on the ground riding a bicycle also is killed.[1]
  • 2012 – An Antonov An-72 military transport aircraft belonging to the military forces of Kazakhstan carrying a crew of seven and 20 members of the Kazakhstan Border Guard Service crashes in bad weather about 20 km (12 miles) from Shymkent while descending to a landing there after a domestic flight from Astana, killing everyone on board. The acting Director of the Kazakhstan Border Guard Service, Colonel Turganbeck Stambekov, is among the dead, along with one of his deputies and a number of regional Border Guard commanders.[2][3]
  • 2009Northwest Airlines Flight 253, an Airbus A330-300 is attacked by a man using a small explosive device, causing only a small fire inside the plane, which is extinguished by a flight attendant; the man is subdued by passengers and crew; there are 3 injuries.
  • 2003UTAGE Flight 141, a Boeing 727, runs off the end of the runway upon takeoff at Cotonou, Benin and crashes onto the beach on the Bight of Benin, killing 151 of the 163 occupants.
  • 1999Cubana de Aviación Flight 310, a Yakovlev Yak-42D, crashes into the San Luis Hill near Bejuma, Venezuela while on approach to Arturo Michelena International Airport; all 22 on board die.
  • 1986Iraqi Airways Flight 163, a Boeing 737, is hijacked by Hezbollah militants while en route to Amman, Jordan. A shootout with security forces causes the plane to crash, killing 63 of the 106 people on board.
  • 1981 – USAF lieutenant Thomas Tiller is rescued from the Atlantic Ocean by a boat after his plane, a F-4 Phantom had an accident seven days before.
  • 1976EgyptAir Flight 864, a Boeing 707, crashes into an industrial complex near Bangkok, Thailand due to pilot error; all 52 on board are killed as well as another 19 on the ground.
  • 1972 – The United States begins a 36-hour pause in the bombing of North Vietnam.
  • 1968Apollo 8 performs the very first successful Trans Earth Injection (TEI) maneuver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit.
  • 1966 – (25-26) The United States conducts a 48-hour stand-down of air operations over Vietnam for the Christmas holiday.
  • 1965 – Hoping to begin peace talks with the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration orders a cessation of American air strikes in Vietnam.
  • 1959 – Michael P. Anderson, astronaut, was born (d. 2003). Anderson was a United States Lieutenant Colonel (USAF), a NASA astronaut, and the Space Shuttle payload commander of STS-107 (Columbia) who was killed when the craft disintegrated after reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • 1954 – BOAC Boeing 377 Stratocruiser G-ALSA crashes on landing at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, killing 28 of the 36 passengers and crew on board.
  • 1946 – Nicknamed “Black Christmas”, three passenger planes, all flying in from Chongqing, China, crash due to fog in separate incidents in Shanghai, China, killing at least 62 of the combined 68 passengers and 9 crew members aboard. Two of the planes belong to China National Aviation Corporation and one to Central Air Transport.
  • 1940 – Two British Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Grumman Martlets of 804 Naval Air Squadron shoot down a German Junkers Ju 88 off Scapa Flow. It is the first aerial victory in Europe by an American-made aircraft in history and the first by any variant of the Grumman F4 F Wildcat.
  • 1934 – French pilot Raymond Delmotte sets a new world speed record for land planes of 314.33 miles per hour (505.87 km/h), flying a Caudron 460.


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