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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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Computer-generated image of Flight 1907 and N600XL about to collide. The Legacy's left winglet sliced off nearly half of the Boeing's left wing.
Gol Transportes Aéreos Flight 1907 was a Boeing 737-8EH, registration PR-GTD, on a scheduled passenger flight from Manaus, Brazil, to Rio de Janeiro. On 29 September 2006, just before 17:00 BRT, it collided in midair with an Embraer Legacy business jet over the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. All 154 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 737 died when the aircraft broke up in midair and crashed into an area of dense rainforest, while the Embraer Legacy, despite sustaining serious damage to its left wing and tail, landed safely with its seven occupants uninjured. The accident, which triggered a crisis in Brazilian civil aviation, was the deadliest in that country's aviation history at the time, surpassing VASP Flight 168, which crashed in 1982 with 137 fatalities near Fortaleza. It was also the deadliest aviation accident involving a Boeing 737 aircraft at that time. It was subsequently surpassed by Air India Express Flight 812, which crashed at Mangalore, India, on 22 May 2010 with 158 fatalities. The accident was investigated by both the Brazilian Air Force's Aeronautical Accidents Investigation and Prevention Center and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), with a final report issued on 10 December 2008. CENIPA concluded that the accident was caused by errors committed both by air traffic controllers and by the American pilots, while the NTSB determined that all pilots acted properly and were placed on a collision course by a variety of "individual and institutional" air traffic control errors.

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Air Force One over Mt. Rushmore
Credit: United States Air Force

The planes that serve as Air Force One can be operated as a military command center in the event of an incident such as a nuclear attack. Operational modifications include aerial refueling capability, electronic countermeasures (ECMs) which jam enemy radar, and flares to avoid heat-seeking missiles. The heavily shieleded electronics onboard include around twice the amount of wiring found in a regular Boeing 747-200.

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Did you know

...in 1931 Amelia Earhart flew a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro to a then world altitude record of 18,415 feet (5613 m)?

...that Roy Marlin "Butch" Voris, founder of the United States Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team, chose the name based on a nightclub advertisement in The New Yorker magazine?

...that the asymmetrical monoplane BV 141 is one of many military aircraft designed by Richard Vogt?

Selected Aircraft

Singapore Airlines B773 9V-SWA.jpg

The Boeing 777 is a long-range, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It is the world's largest twinjet and is commonly referred to as the "Triple Seven". The aircraft has seating for over 300 passengers and has a range from 5,235 to 9,380 nautical miles (9,695 to 17,372 km) depending on model. Its distinguishing features include the largest diameter turbofan engines of any aircraft, six wheels on each main landing gear, a circular fuselage cross-section, and blade-shaped tail cone. Developed in consultation with eight major airlines, the 777 was designed to replace older wide-body airliners and bridge the capacity difference between the 767 and 747. As Boeing's first fly-by-wire airliner, it has computer mediated controls; it is also the first entirely computer-designed commercial aircraft.

The 777 is produced in two fuselage lengths. The original 777-200 model first entered service in 1995, followed by the extended range 777-200ER in 1997; the stretched 777-300, which is 33.3 ft (10.1 m) longer, began service in 1998. The longer-range 777-300ER and 777-200LR variants entered service in 2004 and 2006, respectively, while a freighter version, the 777F, debuted in 2008. Both longer-range versions and the freighter feature General Electric GE90 engines, as well as extended and raked wingtips. Other models are equipped with either the GE90, Pratt & Whitney PW4000, or Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines. The 777-200LR ranks as the world's longest-range airliner and holds the record for longest distance flown by an unrefuelled commercial aircraft, with the demonstrated capability to fly more than halfway around the world.

United Airlines first placed the 777 into commercial airline service in 1995. As of October 2009, 56 customers have placed orders for 1,116 aircraft of all variants, with 822 delivered. The most common variant used worldwide is the 777-200ER, with 412 aircraft delivered, and Emirates operates the largest 777 fleet, with 78 aircraft. The airliner has had one hull-loss accident, with no passenger fatalities, attributed to a Trent 800 engine fuel component as of October 2009.

Through the 2000s, the 777 has emerged as one of its manufacturer's best-selling models. Because of rising fuel costs, airlines have acquired the type as a comparatively fuel-efficient alternative to other wide-body jets and have increasingly used the aircraft on long-haul, transoceanic routes. Direct market competitors include the Airbus A330-300 and the A340, with the upcoming A350 XWB and Boeing 787 programs currently in development.

  • Span: 212 ft 7 in (64.8 m)
  • Length: 242 ft 4 in (73.9 m)
  • Height: 61 ft 5 in (18.7 m)
  • Engines: 2 X GE 90-115B
  • Cruising speed: 0.84 Mach (555 mph, 892 km/h, 481 kn) at 35,000 ft (11,000 m) cruise altitude
  • First flight: 12 June 1994
  • Number built: 649 as of August 2007
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Portrait of Flynn taken in 1929.

The Reverend John Flynn (25 November 1880 – 5 May 1951) was an Australian Presbyterian minister and aviator who founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the world's first air ambulance.

Throughout his ministerial training, Flynn had worked in various then-remote areas through Victoria and South Australia. As well as tending to matters spiritual, Flynn quickly established the need for medical care for residents of the vast Australian outback, and established a number of bush hospitals. By 1917, Flynn was already considering the possibility of new technology, such as radio and the aeroplane, to assist in providing a more useful acute medical service, and then received a letter from an Australian pilot serving in World War I, Clifford Peel, who had heard of Flynn's speculations and outlined the capabilities and costs of then-available planes. Flynn turned his considerable fund-raising talents to the task of establishing a flying medical service.

The first flight of the Aerial Medical Service was in 1928 from Cloncurry. In 1934 the Australian Aerial Medical Service was formed, and gradually established a network of bases nationwide. Flynn remained the public face of the organisation (through name changes to its present form) and helped raise the funds that kept the service operating.

In the news

Today in Aviation

April 26

  • 2009 – Douglas DC-3 C N136FS of Four Star Air Cargo is destroyed by fire at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Puerto Rico.
  • 2009 – The third flying prototype of the Sukhoi Su-35, 04 (?), is destroyed during a high-speed taxi test just before its first flight at Komsomolsk-na-Amur/Dzemgi Airfield. Aircraft apparently ran off end of runway, hits obstacle, burns, destroying it. Test pilot Eugene Frolov ejects safely and is unhurt. This was actually the fourth prototype, but 03 is purely for ground testing.
  • 2004 – OH-58D(I) Kiowa 91-0567 from P Troop, 4th Squadron, 2d ACR made emergency landing at Kut after engine problem and burned out. Both crewmembers safe.[2]
  • 2001 – Pilot Sean Loutitt lands in Chile after a daring two-day flight to the South Pole in a Twin Otter to rescue an ailing U. S. scientist. It was the first rescue of its kind in the harsh Antarctic winter.
  • 1995 – A Mikoyan MiG-29 sets a new FAI class C-1 h world altitude record of 90,092 ft.
  • 1994China Airlines Flight 140, an Airbus A300, crashes while landing at Nagoya, Japan as a result of pilot error. 264 people of the 271 on board died.
  • 1993Indian Airlines Flight 491, a Boeing 737, strikes a large vehicle on a road just outside Aurangabad airport and crashes subsequently, killing 55 of the 118 people on board.
  • 1993 – Launch: Space Shuttle Columbia STS-55 at 10:50 am EDT. Mission highlights: Spacelab-D2, Germany funded mission.
  • 1987 – The first full-scale prototype of Saab’s hi-tech JAS 39 Gripen fighter is unveiled in Sweden.
  • 1984 – United States Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert M. Bond (1929–1984), Vice Commander of Air Force Systems Command, is killed in a high-speed ejection from a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 of the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron, out of Groom Lake, Nevada at 1018 hrs., which was initially reported to be an F-117A Stealth fighter. The MiG impacted on Little Skull Mountain on the remote Nellis AFB range in a high-speed 60-degree dive. Following this accident, officers of General rank were prohibited from test flying. The Air Force is also forced to admit that it is flying Soviet bloc aircraft.
  • 1982 – A CAAC Trident 2E crashes into a mountain in Guilin, killing all 112 people on board. The Chinese media report that the plane, which had taken off in Guangzhou, crashed when the pilot attempted to fight off an armed hijacker.
  • 1982 – SFC Clifford Wilson Strickland is picked up by an Lockheed MC-130 Combat Talon of the 7th Special Operations Squadron at CFB Lahr, Germany, during Flintlock 82 exercise, using Fulton STARS recovery system, but falls to his death reportedly due faulty equipment in 1400 hrs accident. This will be the last ever attempt to utilize the Skyhook system.
  • 1978 – Possibly due to engine trouble, a United States Navy P-3 Orion patrol aircraft (BuNo 152724) of Patrol Squadron 23 (VP-23) crashes in the Atlantic Ocean near Naval Air Facility Lajes in Lajes in the Azores, killing the crew of seven.
  • 1954 – Northrop N-69 Snark, GM-11111, launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, crashes 3,000 yards from launcher, just after the booster rockets separate, due to loss of electrical power.
  • 1949 – Flying continuously in their Aeronca Chief light aircraft for 1,008 hours, and one minute (just over six weeks). Dick Reider and Bill Barris set a world endurance record for a flight-refueled aircraft in the U. S They received food and fuel handed up from a speeding vehicle four times a day.
  • 1948 – During a dive, a North American YP-86 flown by George Welch becomes the first American fighter aircraft to exceed Mach 1.
  • 1945 – During a training exercise, a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 43-38859 collided in mid-air with another B-17G 44-8687. #859 crash-landed and was repaired. #687 was destroyed, with only 2 crew escaping and surviving the incident.
  • 1945 – (Overnight) – 563 bombers of the Soviet Air Force’s 18th Air Army strike Berlin.
  • 1943 – The British employ Ground Grocer, the first device capable of jamming the airborne Lichtenstein radar employed by German night fighters. Ground-based, Ground Grocer’s range is limited by the curvature of the earth, placing most German night fighter operations below its coverage.
  • 1937 – Four Heinkel He.111 and 23 Junkers Ju 52 bombers of the German Condor Legion attack Guernica, Spain, in the first example of “carpet bombing” to demoralize a civilian population. Over three hours, the bombers drop 45,000 kg (99,207 lbs) of bombs, destroying 70% of the city and killing at least 1,000, and perhaps as many as a third (over 1,600 people) of its inhabitants. Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Heinkel He 51 fighters also strafe the town to kill any inhabitants they see. The town burns for three days. The damage shocks Spanish Nationalist military leaders, and the Condor Legion engages in no further area bombing during the Spanish Civil War.
  • 1924 – Imperial Airways makes its first scheduled flight, from Croydon Aerodrome to Paris, using a de Havilland DH.34.
  • 1917 – The Pacific Aero Products Company is renamed the Boeing Airplane Company.
  • 1896 – Ernst Udet, WWI pilot and film actor, Luftwaffe officer, was born (d. 1941). Udet was the second-highest scoring German flying ace of World War I. He was one of the youngest aces and was the highest scoring German ace to survive the war (at the age of 22). His 62 victories were second only to Manfred von Richthofen, his commander in the Flying Circus.


  1. ^ "5 Die in Helicopter Crash in Romania". news.yahoo.com. AP. April 26, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference autogenerated5 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

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