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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 Ryanair Boeing 737 on the landing roll at Bristol Airport
Ryanair is an airline based in Ireland. It is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, operating 209 low-fare routes to 94 destinations across 17 European countries. Over the years it has evolved into the world's most profitable airline, running at remarkable margins by relentlessly driving costs down. Ryanair has been characterised by rapid and continuing expansion, enabled by the deregulation of the air industry in Europe in 1997. It operates a fleet of 74 Boeing 737s, and currently has firm orders for an additional 225 Boeing 737-800 airplanes by 2010, with options on a further 193. Ryanair is one of Europe's most controversial companies, praised and criticised in equal measure. Its supporters praise its commitment to exceptionally low fares, its radical management, its populism, and its willingness to challenge what Ryanair calls the 'establishment' within the airline industry. Critics, meanwhile, have attacked its labor union policies, and have charged that it practises deceptive advertising.

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Let L410UVP-E16 at an air show in Góraszka, Poland
Credit: Łukasz Golowanow

The Let L-410 Turbolet is a twin-engined short-range transport aircraft, manufactured by the Czech aircraft manufacturer LET, mostly used for passenger transport. The L-410 first flew in 1969, and with more than 1100 produced, is the most popular 19-seat plane in history.

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Did you know

...that Chris Phatswe committed suicide by crashing his Air Botswana plane into two other planes belonging to the airline, effectively crippling operations?

...that Indra Lal Roy of the Royal Air Force became India's first flying ace after he achieved 10 victories in thirteen days during World War I?

... that before he flew the Spirit of St. Louis on his historic transatlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh's first choice of aircraft was the Ryan M-2?

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Avro Arrow replica at CASM Arrow rollout in 2006

The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow was a delta-winged interceptor aircraft, designed and built by Avro Aircraft Limited (Canada) in Malton, Ontario, Canada, as the culmination of a design study that began in 1953. Considered to be both an advanced technical and aerodynamic achievement for the Canadian aviation industry, the CF-105 held the promise of Mach 2 speeds at altitudes exceeding 50,000 ft (15,000 m), and was intended to serve as the Royal Canadian Air Force's primary interceptor in the 1960s and beyond. Not long after the 1958 start of its flight test program, the development of the Arrow (including its Orenda Iroquois jet engines) was abruptly and controversially halted before the project review had taken place, sparking a long and bitter political debate. The controversy engendered by the cancellation and subsequent destruction of the aircraft in production, remains a topic for debate among historians, political observers and industry pundits. "This action effectively put Avro out of business and its highly skilled engineering and production personnel scattered... The incident was a traumatic one... and to this day, many mourn the loss of the Arrow."

  • Span: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
  • Length: 77 ft 9 in (23.71 m)
  • Height: 20 ft 6 in (6.25 m)
  • Engines: 2×Pratt & Whitney J75-P-3
  • Cruising Speed: Mach 0.91 (607 mph, 977 km/h) at 36,000 ft (11,000 m)
  • First Flight: 25 March 1958
  • Number built: 5
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Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan (born June 17, 1943 in Estacada, Oregon) is an American aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft. He is most famous for his design of the record-breaking Voyager, which was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the suborbital rocket plane SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004.

In the news

Today in Aviation

July 29

  • 2009 – An Airbus A330-203 operated Air France is substantially damaged at Maya-Maya Airport, Brazil when a wing strikes a building during ground manoeuvres.
  • 2005 – The U. S. Army awards a contract for the purchase of 368 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters (ARH) to Bell Helicopter Textron.
  • 2003 – The International Space Station’s 1,000th consecutive day of astronauts living on board.
  • 1988 – Launch: Space Shuttle Discovery STS-51-F at 21:00:00 UTC. Mission highlights: Spacelab mission, Abort to Orbit.
  • 1985 – The eighth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger, and 19th shuttle flight overall, lifts off from Cape Canaveral for mission STS-51-F. Five minutes and 45 seconds into its ascent, main engine number one shuts down due to a malfunctioning high temperature sensor, forcing the crew to abort its originally planned orbit and coast to a lower orbit. Receiving more attention than the Spacelab 2 module on board was the “Carbonated Beverage Dispenser Evaluation, ” a test financed by Coca-Cola and Pepsi to determine if carbonated soft drinks could be enjoyed in space using specially designed cans. The verdict: No.
  • 1971 – American and United airlines take delivery of the first two production Douglas DC-10 jetliners, and American puts its new DC-10 in regular service just eight days later.
  • 1970 – Lt. (j.g.) William Belden, 23, of Racine, Wisconsin, ejects from an McDonnell Douglas A-4E Skyhawk on the deck of the USS Shangri-La in the western Pacific. Pilot recovered shaken but unhurt by helicopter; Skyhawk later recovered from carrier catwalk.
  • 1967 – On Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam, a flight deck fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59) kills 134 men, injures 161,
  • 1967 – A deckfire on the USS Forrestal caused by an unintentional firing of a Zuni rocket by an electrical short-circuit from the underwing rack of an McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II at 1051 hrs. holes the fuel tank of an McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Spilled fuel ignites and ordnance on the ready jets is set off by the blaze. Twenty-six aircraft are destroyed or jettisoned, 31 others are damaged, 132 crewmen die, 62 are injured and two are missing. The last major fire is extinguished at 4 a.m. on 30 July. See: 1967 USS Forrestal fire. Among lost airframes are Douglas A-4E Skyhawk, BuNos 149996, 150064, 150068, 150084, 150115, 150118, 150129, 152018, 152024, 152036, 152040; McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II, 153046, 153054, 153060, 153061, 153066, 150069, 150912; and North American RA-5C Vigilantes of RVAH-11, 148932, 149284, and 149305.
  • 1959 – The first jetway in the U. S. is installed at the International Airport in San Francisco, California. Designed to protect passengers from the weather when they board or leave the jet plane, it is a powered telescopic or collapsible corridor that extends to the aircraft and connects the plane to the terminal. They are commonplace in all airports today.
  • 1959 – Royal Navy Fairey Gannet AS.4, XA465, 'C 234', cannot lower undercarriage, makes power-on deck belly landing into crash barrier on HMS Centaur. Crew okay but airframe written off, salvaged in Singapore, ending up on fire dump at Sembawang.
  • 1958 – President Eisenhower signs the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating a new federal agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s stated goal is to enable the U. S. to lead the exploration of space for peaceful purposes to benefit humanity.
  • 1952 – A USAF RB-45 Tornado makes the first non-stop crossing of the Pacific by jet
  • 1952 – A Royal Air Force Boeing Washington B.1, WW349, hit while parked at Wisley, Surrey by Vickers Valiant, WJ954, in taxi accident. No injuries. Airframe had been intended for transfer to RAAF as third of three.
  • 1949 – Airlift in West-Germany to West-Berlin ends.
  • 1947 – Nine crew are killed and two injured in a failed take-off attempt by a Boeing B-29 Superfortress from Eglin Field, Florida at 0813 hrs., the bomber coming down ~300 yards N of the main base near Valparaiso, Florida and burning. Killed were instructor pilot Capt. Gordon W. Barrett, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a West Point graduate who was awarded the DFC while flying Boeing B-29 Superfortresses in World War II; pilot 1st Lt. Huddie C. Bagley of Braufield, Texas; co-pilot Capt. Robert M. Seldomridge of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; navigator 1st Lt. Joseph A. Anderson, Shalimar, Florida; navigator 1st Lt. Milton Rose, Fort Walton, Florida; engineer Master Sgt. Michele Aulicino, Mary Esther, Florida; scanner Staff Sgt. Hugh T. Mulholland of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; scanner Cpl. Ashley W. Odom, McBee, South Carolina; and scanner Pfc. Donald D. Crawford from Fort Worth, Texas. Injured were scanner S/Sgt. Jeremiah W. Conlon of Worthington, Kentucky, admitted to the Eglin hospital with abrasions of the face and head, and ankle injuries; and radio operator S/Sgt. Lloyd D. Farris of Pensacola, Florida, with minor injuries but admitted for observation. The Superfortress apparently failed to gain much altitude before coming down, said Capt. Robert Gaughan, base public relations officer.
  • 1946 – First Swedish pilot to use an ejection seat to escape a crippled aircraft, Lt. Bengt Johansson (who later changes it to Järkenstedt), saves himself this date when the Saab J 21A-1, of 2 Divisionen, F9 Wing, out of Säve, collides with FFVS J 22 of another F9 Divisionen while engaged in naval gunnery attack practice. While climbing out from a gunnery pass, the J 21 is struck by the pursuing J 22, shearing off one of the J 21's twin tails. With control lost, Johansson jettisons canopy and ejects, other pilot also bails out of crippled J 22, both parachute into the sea where they are rescued by a Swedish navy destroyer. At the time the Swedish press describes the incident as a "first", the 13 January 1942 ejection by German Helmut Schenk from a Heinkel He 280 being little known at this point.
  • 1945 – U. S. Army Air Forces B-25 Mitchells and U. S. Navy aircraft from the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) further damage the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaiyo in Beppu Bay.
  • 1945 – (29-30) Japanese kamikazes make their last attacks on ships off Okinawa, damaging two U. S. destroyers.
  • 1945 – (29-30) Carrier aircraft of Task Force 38 strike the Maizuru Naval Arsenal and the north coast of Honshu, Japan.
  • 1943 – (Overnight) Another raid on Hamburg by 777 British bombers targets undamaged areas in the northern part of the city, killing about 1,000 more people. The British lose 28 aircraft
  • 1938 – (July 29-August 11) During the Lake Khasan Incident along the border between the Soviet Union and Manchukuo, 70 fighters and 180 bombers of the Soviet Air Force conduct heavy strikes against Imperial Japanese Army positions.
  • 1938 – An Arado Ar 79 sets an international solo speed record over a 2,000 km (1,200 mi) course for an aircraft of its class, averaging 227.029 km/hr (141.07 mph).
  • 1938 – Former Soviet Air Force commander-in-chief Yakov Alksnis is executed, a victim of the Great Purge.
  • 1936 – Germany and Italy become the first countries to provide aircraft for service in the Spanish Civil War, when 10 German Junkers Ju 52 transports land in Spanish Morocco for service with the Nationalist faction and nine Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 bombers arrive in Spain for Nationalist service; three other SM.81 s crash during the flight to Spain.
  • 1936 – (July 29-August 5) Ten, later increased to twenty, German Junkers Ju 52 s ferry 1,500 Spanish Nationalist troops from Spanish Morocco to Spain in the world’s first major military airlift.
  • 1930 – British airship R.100 makes a test flight to Montreal and back.
  • 1929 – A Ford Trimotor flown by Charles Lindbergh began the first coast-to-coast air passenger service through Transcontinental Air Transport (TWA).
  • 1920 – U. S. Postal Office’s first transcontinental airmail flight takes off from New York to San Francisco.
  • 1909 – Georges Legagneux makes the first airplane flight in Sweden in his Voisin biplane in Stockholm.


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