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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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Mirabel Satellite photo
Montréal-Mirabel International Airport is a large airport located in Mirabel, Quebec, near Montreal and was opened 4 October 1975. The airport serves mainly cargo flights, and is a manufacturing base of Bombardier Aerospace, where final assembly of regional jets (CRJ700 and CRJ900) aircraft is conducted. It is part of the National Airports System. It is the second largest airport in the world in terms of area, covering more land area than the five New York City boroughs.

The airport's location and lack of transport links, as well as Montreal's economic decline relative to Toronto, made it unpopular with airlines. Eventually relegated to the simple role of a cargo airport, Mirabel became an embarrassment widely regarded in Canada as being a boondoggle, or a "white elephant," and one of the best examples of a failed megaproject.

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C17 aircraft alt.jpg
Credit: Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey, U.S. Air Force

Thirteen C-17 Globemaster III aircraft fly over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia during low level tactical training Dec. 20, 2005. The C-17s, assigned to the 437th and 315th Airlift Wings at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., demonstrated the strategic airdrop capability of the U.S. Air Force.

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Did you know

...that the pioneer American airman Lowell Smith participated in the first mid-air refueling, the first aerial circumnavigation and held 16 records for military aircraft in speed, endurance and distance?

...that Garuda Indonesia flight 152 was the deadliest air disaster of 1997, claiming the lives of over 230 people?

... that on 28 May 1931, a Bellanca CH-300 fitted with a Packard DR-980 diesel engine set a 55-year record for staying aloft for 84 hours and 32 minutes without being refueled?

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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Selected biography

Frank Whittle speaking to employees of the Flight Propulsion Research Laboratory (now known as the NASA Glenn Research Center), USA, in 1946
Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was a Royal Air Force officer and was one of the inventors of jet propulsion. By the end of the war, Whittle's efforts resulted in engines that would lead the world in performance through the end of the decade.

Born in Earlsdon, Coventry, England on June 1, 1907, Whittle left Leamington College in 1923 to join the Royal Air Force (RAF). Through his early days as an Aircraft apprentice he maintained his interest in the Model Aircraft Society where he built replicas, the quality of which attracted the eye of his commanding officer, who was so impressed that he recommended Whittle for the Officer Training College at Cranwell in Lincolnshire in 1926, a rarity for a "commoner" in what was still a very class-based military structure. A requirement of the course was that each student had to produce a thesis for graduation. Whittle decided to write his thesis on future developments in aircraft design, in which he described what is today referred to as a motorjet.

Whittle and Hans von Ohain met after the war and initially Whittle was angry with him as he felt Ohain had stolen his ideas. Ohain eventually convinced him that his work was independent and after that point the two became good friends.

In the news

Today in Aviation

August 5

  • 2012 – An Israeli airstrike halts an attempt by a group of gunmen to use commandeered Egyptian armored vehicles to ram their way through an Israeli border crossing from Egypt into Israel.[1]
  • 2009 – SATA International Flight 466, an Airbus A320-214, registration CS-TKO, makes a very heavy landing at Lisbon Portela Airport, Portugal, with a force of 4.6G being recorded. The aircraft is substantially damaged but may have flown twice since.
  • 2009 – A Pakistan Air Force Chengdu FT-7 crashes near Attock, northwest Pakistan, killing the pilot.
  • 1994 – Clive Robertson Caldwell, British fighter pilot, dies at 84.
  • 1984 – An Aeroflot Antonov AN-12 loses all four engines after flying into heavy hail and crashes in Pakistan, killing all 23 aboard.
  • 1981 – Ronald Reagan fires 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers who ignored his order for them to return to work.
  • 1973 – Arab terrorists open fire inside and toss grenades inside a terminal at Athens Airport, killing three and injuring 55. The attack was intended for passengers traveling to Israel, but the Tel Aviv flight had already departed—most of the victims were waiting for a flight to New York. The attackers are captured and executed.
  • 1971 – Entered Service: McDonnell Douglas DC-10 with American Airlines
  • 1970 – A USAF McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II of the 36th TFW, Bitburg, Germany, TDY to Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, crashes on a gunnery range 25 miles from Zaragoza, killing pilot Capt. Charles A. Baldwin, 28, of Charleston, West Virginia, and navigator Capt. Stephen N. Smith, 27, of Pinebrook, New Jersey.
  • 1969 – The space probe Mariner 7 makes its closest approach to Mars, beaming back photos and data from just around 10,000 miles above the Martian surface.
  • 1966 – The Soviet Union protests damage to one of its merchant ships in a North Vietnamese port due to American air attacks.
  • 1964 – US Navy aircraft attack North Vietnamese naval bases, spearheading direct US involvement in the Vietnam War.
  • 1954 – As the first pre-production Douglas A2D-1 Skyshark, BuNo 125480, piloted by George Jansen, is flown on a test flight out of Edwards AFB, California, the temperamental gearbox transferring the Allison XT-40A power to counter-rotating propellers fails, and even though the powerplant continues to partially function, the props automatically feather. Unable to spot a reasonable landing spot, the pilot ejects, suffering back injuries that leave him a plaster cast for several months. The Skyshark program is cancelled one month later, with only six of ten pre-production A2D-1s completed ever being flown.
  • 1952 – Convair B-36D-25-CF Peacemaker, 49-2661, c/n 121, on bailment to Convair, San Diego, California, crashes into San Diego Bay at 1430 PDT, while on a normal shakedown flight following completion of "San-San" project modification. The number 5 engine catches fire in flight and then falls off the wing. The aircraft is destroyed by impact and explosion. Four of the eight crewmembers, all Convair flight test employees, receive minor injuries, two are uninjured, and two are lost, first flight engineer W. W. Hoffman, by drowning, while the pilot, David H. Franks, 40, stays with the plane to manoeuvre it out to sea and away from occupied land. His body is never found. Coast Guard planes rescue four and Navy ships pick up two. The rescued, none seriously injured, are R. W. Adkins, co-pilot; Kenneth Rogers, flight engineer, W. F. Ashmore, Roy E. Sommers, D. R. Maxion and W. E. Wilson, all of San Diego. The UB88 Project dive team determined that the bomber actually came down in the Pacific off of Mission Beach.
  • 1950 – AA USAF Boeing B-29-85-BW Superfortress, 44-87651, of the 99th Bomb Squadron, 9th Bomb Group, 9th Bomb Wing, carrying a Mark 4 nuclear bomb, suffers two runaway propellers and landing gear problems on takeoff at Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base, Fairfield, California. The crew attempts an emergency landing but crashes, causing a huge explosion that kills 19 aboard the plane and on the ground, including mission commander Brig. Gen. Robert F. Travis; the airfield is later renamed Travis Air Force Base in his honor. Numerous nearby mobile homes are severely damaged and many civilians, firefighters, and USAF ground crew are injured- 60 required hospital treatment and 47 suffered superficial injuries according to newspaper reports, but other sources place the total as high as 173. The USAF attributes the explosion to ten or twelve conventional 500-pound HE bombs aboard the B-29 and claims that the nuclear bomb's fuel capsule was aboard a different aircraft, but admits that the bomb casing contained depleted uranium used as ballast, and later orders a public health assessment of the crash site.
  • 1946 – Second (of only 14 built) Douglas C-74 Globemaster, 42-65403, c/n 13914, crashes at Torrance, California when it loses a wing during an overload dive test. All four crew bail out successfully.
  • 1945 – First production Martin JRM-1 Mars flying boat, BuNo 76819 named "Hawaii Mars", crashes on test flight in the Chesapeake Bay after porpoising during landing - never delivered to the US Navy.
  • 1944 – During test flight out of the Fisher plant at Cleveland, Ohio, third Fisher XP-75 Eagle, 44-32161, crashes at Fairfield Village, Ohio, three miles (5 km) N of Cleveland, after an explosion and fire at 23,000 feet (7,000 m) - pilot Russell Stuart Weeks bailed out at 4,000 feet (1,200 m).
  • 1943 – The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and the 319th Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD), both organizations of civilian women ferry pilots employed by the U. S. Army Air Forces Air Transport Command, are merged to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
  • 1940 – No. 2 SFTS was officially opened at Uplands Airport, Ontario, by the Governor-General.
  • 1936 – Five Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 bombers are among aircraft covering a convoy of merchant ships carrying 3,000 Nationalist soldiers and their equipment from Spanish Morocco to Spain.
  • 1930 – Neil Armstrong, Ohio, X-15 pilot, 1st Moonwalker (Gemini 8, Apollo 11) was born.
  • 1925 – Lloyd Aero Boliviano commences operations.
  • 1918 – The commander of the Imperial German Navy’s Naval Airship Division, Fregattenkapitän Peter Strasser, is killed in action when the Zeppelin in which he is riding as an observer, L70, is shot down in flames over the coast of England.
  • 1918 – The first American night patrol of the war takes place when a Felixstowe F.2 A flying boat crewed by Ens. Ashton W. Hawkins and Lt. George F. Lawrence take off on patrol from RAF Killinghome, England.
  • 1917 – The first Aero Squadron of the Signal Corps leaves the United States for Europe under the command of Maj. Ralph Royce.
  • 1905 – Nineteen-year old Welshman Ernest Willows makes the first flight of Willows No. 1 a semi-rigid airship he had built.


  1. ^ Londoño, Ernesto, "Egypt Targets Militants in Sinai," The Washington Post, August 9, 2012, pp. A1, A8.
  2. ^ "Libya Live Blog: Friday, August 5, 2011  – 19:11". Al Jazeera. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos-Third Series (160007 to 163049)". Retrieved 2010-07-16.  [dead link]
  4. ^ "Curtis A. Utz, Mark L. Evans, Dale J. Gordon. The Year in Review. Naval Aviation News, July–August 2005" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-16. 

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