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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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A jet engine simulation
A jet engine is a type of air-breathing turbine engine, often used on aircraft. The engine draws air in at the front and compresses it. The air then combines with fuel and the engine burns the resulting mixture. The combustion greatly increases the volume of the gases which are then exhausted out of the rear of the engine. The process is similar to a four-stroke cycle, but with the processes - induction, compression, ignition and exhaust - taking place continuously.

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A Ventus 2a glider being winch launched
Credit: whiteplanes.com

During a winch launch, a glider is pulled by a wire cable like a kite, raising it to an altitude of around 1000 ft (300 m). For the rest of its flight, being un-powered, the heavier-than-air aeroplane is always falling. However a pilot can gain height by circling within a strong thermal — a column of air that is rising at a faster rate than the plane is falling. On a good day, an experienced pilot can travel hundreds of miles before landing.

...Archive/Nominations

Did you know

...that the Soviet spotter aircraft Sukhoi Su-12, though approved, was never produced due to lack of manufacturing capacity in the USSR?


...that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight contains the world's oldest airworthy survivor of the Battle of Britain, alongside ten other historic aircraft - two of which fought over Normandy on D-Day?

... that Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson, a British flying ace of World War I, scored 30 kills in five months of service and won both the DFC and MC?

Selected Aircraft

XB-36 first flight.jpg
The Convair B-36 was a strategic bomber built by Convair for the United States Air Force, the first to have truly intercontinental range. Unofficially nicknamed the "Peacemaker", the B-36 was the first thermonuclear weapon delivery vehicle, the largest piston aircraft ever to be mass-produced, and the largest warplane of any kind.

The B-36 was the only American aircraft with the range and payload to carry such bombs from airfields on American soil to targets in the USSR, as storing nuclear weapons in foreign countries was diplomatically delicate. The nuclear deterrent the B-36 afforded may have kept the Soviet Army from fighting alongside the North Korean and Chinese armies during the Korean War. Convair touted the B-36 as an "aluminum overcast," a "long rifle" to give SAC a global reach. When General Curtis LeMay headed SAC (1949-57) and turned it into an effective nuclear delivery force, the B-36 formed the heart of his command. Its maximum payload was more than four times that of the B-29, even exceeding that of the B-52.

  • Span: 230 ft 0 in (70.10 m)
  • Length: 162 ft 1 in (49.40 m)
  • Height: 46 ft 9 in (14.25 m)
  • Engines: 6× Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 "Wasp Major" radials, 3,800 hp (2,500 kW) each
  • Cruising Speed: 230 mph (200 kn, 380 km/h) with jets off
  • Range: 6,795 mi (5,905 nmi, 10,945 km) with 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) payload
  • First Flight: 8 August 1946

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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 20

  • 2012 – A Royal Brunei Air Force Bell 212 crashed near Kuala Belait, Brunei killing 12 of the 14 on board.
  • 2009 – An IAI Kfir jet fighter crashes near the city of Cartagena, Colombia. The Israeli pilots operating the plane were unharmed in the incident, but the jet itself was destroyed. Israel Aerospace Industries said in a statement that the plane was flying a refresher flight, and that the aircraft did not come to a stop on the landing strip, landing outside it. The director of the Israel Aerospace Industries announced that an investigation into the incident had already begun and that a panel to probe the crash had been appointed.
  • 2009 – A Chilean Air Force Extra 300L aerobatic aircraft cashed 15 km south of Santiago, Chile, pilot seriously injured.
  • 2009 – A Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR.4 operating with RAF No. 1 Squadron crashes on take-off at Kandahār International Airport in Afghanistan and the two crew members successfully eject from the aircraft.
  • 2008 – (20–26) 16th FAI World Rally Flying Championship
  • 1992 – Round World Air Race begins in Paris.
  • 1992 – An Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey prototype, BuNo 163914, arriving from Eglin AFB, Florida, catches fire and falls into the Potomac River at MCAS Quantico, Virginia, USA, killing 5 crew members in front of an audience of high-ranking US government officials; this is the first of a series of fatal accidents involving the controversial tiltrotor aircraft.
  • 1981Somali Airlines Flight 40, a Fokker F27 Friendship, crashed shortly after takeoff from Mogadishu International Airport. All 50 passengers and crew on board were killed.
  • 1976 – America’s Viking I robot spacecraft made a successful, first-ever landing on Mars.
  • 1974 – The Turkish Air Force supports Operation Atilla, a Turkish invasion of Cyprus, as a war over the island between Turkey and Greece and the Greek Cypriots breaks out. Turkish aircraft join with Turkish Navy in sinking a Greek Cypriot torpedo boat which attempts to attack the approaching Turkish naval flotilla, and Turkish aircraft support the amphibious landing.
  • 1972 – Lockheed SR-71A, 61-7978, Article 2029, lost in landing accident at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Pilot Capt. Dennis K. Bush and RSO Jimmy Fagg are unhurt.
  • 1948 – Sixteen Lockheed Shooting Stars complete the first west to east transatlantic flight by jet aircraft.
  • 1945 – 473 B-29 s drop 3,255 tons (2,952,917 kg) of bombs on Fukui and other cities in Japan.
  • 1944 – Saipan-based U. S. Navy PB4Y-1 Liberators of Bomber Squadron 109 (VB-109) again strike Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, and Haha Jima. During the strikes of July 14, 15, and 20, they claim between 10 and 30 Japanese aircraft destroyed on the ground.
  • 1944 – Flying Fortresses of US 8th Air Force attack Leipzig / Dessau.
  • 1944 – Japanese aircraft carrier Hijo sinks by US air attack.
  • 1944 – Liberators of US 8th Air Force attack Gotha Russelsheim / Eisenach.
  • 1944 – US 15th Air Force attacks Friedrichshaven Memmingen.
  • 1943 – U. S. aircraft strike the escorts of a Japanese convoy in New Georgia Sound, sinking two destroyers and damaging the heavy cruiser Kumano.
  • 1940 – The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan began operations when students started training at No. 1 Service Flying Training School at Camp Borden, Ontario.
  • 1940 – Fleet Air Arm Swordfish of No. 813 Squadron conduct another torpedo strike against Tobruk, sinking two Italian destroyers.
  • 1939 – Canada’s first North American Harvards No.’s 1321 & 1322 were delivered to RCAF Sea IsIand.
  • 1927 – Lindbergh begins NY flight (Spirit of St Louis).
  • 1908 – Orville Wright warns Glenn Curtiss that the wing flaps used in the AEA’s June Bug are an infringement of the Wrights’ patent.


  1. ^ Toliver & Constable 1986, p. 12.

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