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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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Color Autochrome Lumière of a Nieuport Fighter in Aisne, France 1917
One of the many innovations of World War I, aircraft were first used for reconnaissance purposes and later as fighters and bombers. Consequently, this was the first war which involved a struggle for control of the air, which turned it into another battlefield, alongside the battlefields of land and sea.

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X-15A2 NB-52B 1.jpg
Credit: http://www.edwards.af.mil/history/docs_html/aircraft/x-15.html

Flying a modified X-15A-2 in October, 1967, US Air Force Major William Joseph Knight reached Mach 6.72 (4,520 mph), which remains the highest speed ever attained in an airplane.

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...that among the earliest accounts of the use of a man-lifting kite is in the story of Ishikawa Goemon's robbery from Nagoya Castle?

...that PWS-10 designed in late 1920s was the first Polish fighter to enter serial production?

... that the airline Vildanden started its first route with wet leased aircraft from Coast Air?

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Colour avrocar 59.jpg

The VZ-9 Avrocar (full military designation VZ-9-AV) was a Canadian VTOL aircraft developed by Avro Aircraft Ltd. as part of a secret U.S. military project carried out in the early years of the Cold War.[1] The Avrocar intended to exploit the Coandă effect to provide lift and thrust from a single "turborotor" blowing exhaust out the rim of the disk-shaped aircraft to provide anticipated VTOL-like performance. In the air, it would have resembled a flying saucer. Two prototypes were built as "proof-of-concept" test vehicles for a more advanced USAF fighter and also for a U.S. Army tactical combat aircraft requirement.[2] In flight testing, the Avrocar proved to have unresolved thrust and stability problems that limited it to a degraded, low-performance flight envelope; subsequently, the project was cancelled in 1961.

  • Diameter:18 ft (5.486 m)
  • Height: 3 ft 6 in (1.1 m)
  • Engines: 3 x Turbomeca Marboré Continental J69-T-9
  • Max Speed: 300 mph (482 km/h)
  • First Flight: 12 November 1959
  • Number built: 2
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Amelia Earhart, c. 1928
Amelia Mary Earhart (July 24, 1897 – missing as of July 2, 1937), daughter of Edwin and Amy Earhart, was an American aviator and noted early female pilot who mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during a circumnavigational flight in 1937.

By 1919 Earhart had enrolled at Columbia University to study pre-med but quit a year later to be with her parents in California. Later in Long Beach she and her father went to a stunt-flying exhibition and the next day she went on a ten minute flight.

Earhart had her first flying lesson at Kinner Field near Long Beach. Her teacher was Anita Snook, a pioneer female aviator. Six months later Earhart purchased a yellow Kinner Airster biplane which she named "Canary". On October 22, 1922, she flew it to an altitude of 14,000 feet, setting a women's world record.

After Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, Amy Guest, a wealthy American living in London, England expressed interest in being the first woman to fly (or be flown) across the Atlantic Ocean, but after deciding the trip was too dangerous to make herself, she offered to sponsor the project, suggesting they find "another girl with the right image." While at work one afternoon in April 1928 Earhart got a phone call from a man who asked her, "Would you like to fly the Atlantic?" (more...)

In the news

Today in Aviation

October 21

  • 2009 – Northwest Airlines Flight 188, an Airbus A320-212 with 149 people on board, lands in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an hour late after its pilots overshoot Minneapolis when they become distracted by a discussion of their schedules.
  • 2009 – Agreement announced for sale of London Gatwick Airport from BAA Limited to Global Infrastructure Partners, to comply with Competition Commission requirements.
  • 2009Azza Transport Flight 2241, a Boeing 707-330C, crashes on take off from Sharjah International Airport, United Arab Emirates; all 6 crew members are killed.
  • 1989Tan-Sahsa Flight 414, a Boeing 727, crashes into a mountain known as Cerro de Hula near Tegucigalpa, Honduras due to pilot error; 127 of 146 on board die.
  • 1982 – A Swiss Air Force Sud Alouette III crashed near Urnasch, six killed.
  • 1978 – A man named Frederich Valentich mysteriously disappears while flying a Cessna 182L over the Bass Strait in Australia, after encountered an unidentified flying object. During six minutes after first asking air traffic control about other aircraft in the area, he continued to describe a craft of some sort that did not resemble an airplane and was moving all around him as he flew. His transmission ultimately ended with 17 seconds of metallic scraping sounds before cutting. No trace of him or his aircraft were ever found.
  • 1970 – An explosion in the lavatory blows the tail off of Philippine Airlines Flight 215, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748-209 Series 2, while it is flying over the Philippine Islands at 10,500 feet (3,200 m) during a flight from Cauayan City to Manila; the aircraft crashes, killing all 40 people on board. A bomb is suspected.
  • 1970 – Caledonian Airways takes over British United Airways.
  • 1967 – During a Laughlin AFB, Texas, airshow, USAF Thunderbirds No. 6, a North American F-100D-20-NA Super Sabre, 55-3520, piloted by Capt. Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak, crashes, but he succeeds in ejecting as the plane breaks up. As McPeak pulls up to begin a series of vertical rolls, the wing center box fails at ~6.5 Gs, and the engine catches fire as the center fuel tank ruptures, dumping fuel into the engine bay. The pilot ejects and lands near to the crowd. This crash limited flying on all USAF Super Sabres to 4G. This was the first Thunderbird crash during a performance.
  • 1961 – Vought F8U-1 Crusader, BuNo 145357, 'AB 12', of VF-11, arrestor hook and right landing gear broke during heavy landing on USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, with aircraft catching alight and going over port side. A series of nine photographs taken by Photographer's Mate L.J. Cera showed the crash sequence with pilot Lt. J.G Kryway ejecting in Martin-Baker Mk. F-5 seat just as the fighter leaves the deck. These images were widely distributed in the Navy to assure pilots that the seat could save them. Kryway escapes with minor injuries, being picked up by helicopter ten minutes later. Joe Baugher notes that date of 21 August 1961 has also been reported.
  • 1954 – XA546, a Royal Air Force Gloster Javelin FAW.1 on a pre-delivery test flight, crashes into the Bristol Channel.
  • 1944 – A Japanese plane carrying a 200-pound (91 kg) bomb crashes into HMAS Australia off the coast of the Philippines.
  • 1942 – A Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress, 40-3089, of the 5th Bomb Group/11th Bomb Group, with Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, America's top-scoring World War I ace (26 kills), aboard on a secret mission, is lost at sea in the central Pacific Ocean when the bomber goes off-course. After 24 days afloat, he and surviving crew are rescued by the U.S. Navy after having been given up for lost, discovered by OS2U Kingfisher crew.
  • 1941 – First prototype Saro Lerwick, L7248, on strength with the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, crashes into hill at Faslane, probably as a result of engine failure, with seven crew killed.
  • 1937 – Nationalist aircraft sink the Republican destroyer Ciscar at Gijón.
  • 1936 – Pan American World Airways initiates six-day-a-week passenger service between San Francisco, California, and Manila in the Philippine Islands via Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • 1929 – The Colonial Flying Service and Scully Walton Ambulance Company organize the United States' first civilian air ambulance service.


  1. ^ Yenne 2003), pp. 281–283.
  2. ^ Milberry 1979, p. 137.
  3. ^ a b Mauro, Stephen, "e-volo Takes Lindbergh Prize," Aviation History, November 2012, p. 10.

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