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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.

Selected article

Traditional general aviation fixed-wing light aircraft, the most numerous class of aircraft in the sector
General aviation in the United Kingdom has been defined as a civil aircraft operation other than a commercial air transport flight operating to a schedule. Although the International Civil Aviation Organization excludes any form of remunerated aviation from its definition, some commercial operations are often included within the scope of general aviation in the UK. The sector operates business jets, rotorcraft, piston and jet-engined fixed-wing aircraft, gliders of all descriptions, and lighter than air craft. Public transport operations include business (or corporate) aviation and air taxi services, and account for nearly half of the economic contribution made by the sector. There are 28,000 Private Pilot Licence holders, and 10,000 certified glider pilots. Although GA operates from more than 1,800 aerodromes and landing sites, ranging in size from large regional airports to farm strips, over 80 per cent of GA activity is conducted at 134 of the larger aerodromes. GA is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, although regulatory powers are being increasingly transferred to the European Aviation Safety Agency. The main focus is on standards of airworthiness and pilot licensing, and the objective is to promote high standards of safety.

Selected picture

Boeing-Stearman NS-1 Bi-plane
Credit: U.S. Navy

Boeing-Stearman Model 75's. Taken in 1936 at NAS Pensacola during training of the first class of the Naval Aviation Cadet program. Photo includes Boone Guyton (plane in rear) who later became a test pilot for Chance-Vought (Vought Sikorsky) in 1939.

...Archive/Nominations

Did you know

...that the Vickers machine gun was the standard weapon on all British and French military aircraft after 1916?

...that the airfields captured in the battle of Tinian were used for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

... 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

A spitfire in flight

The Supermarine Spitfire was a single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many Allied countries in World War II.

Produced by Supermarine, the Spitfire was designed by R.J. Mitchell, who continued to refine it until his death from cancer in 1937. The elliptical wing had a thin cross-section, allowing a faster top speed than the Hurricane and other contemporary designs; it also resulted in a distinctive appearance. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire saw service during the whole of World War II, in all theatres of war, and in many different variants.

More than 20,300 examples of all variants were built, including two-seat trainers, with some Spitfires remaining in service well into the 1950s. It was the only fighter aircraft to be in continual production before, during and after the war.

The aircraft was dubbed Spitfire by Sir Robert MacLean, director of Vickers (the parent company of Supermarine) at the time, and on hearing this, Mitchell is reported to have said, "...sort of bloody silly name they would give it." The word dates from Elizabethan times and refers to a particularly fiery, ferocious type of person, usually a woman. The name had previously been used unofficially for Mitchell's earlier F.7/30 Type 224 design.

The prototype (K5054) first flew on March 5, 1936, from Eastleigh Aerodrome (later Southampton Airport). Testing continued until May 26, 1936, when Mutt Summers (Chief Test Pilot for Vickers (Aviation) Ltd.) flew K5054 to Martlesham and handed the aircraft over to Squadron Leader Anderson of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE).

  • Length: 29 ft 11 in (9.12 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
  • Number Built: 20,351 (excluding Seafires)
  • Maximum speed: 330 knots (378 mph, 605 km/h)
  • Maiden flight: March 5, 1936
  • Powerplant: 1× Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 supercharged V12 engine, 1470 hp at 9250 ft (1096 kW at 2820 m)

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Selected biography

Jeana Yeager (born May 18, 1952 in Fort Worth, Texas) is an aviator, most famous for flying with Dick Rutan on a non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world in the Voyager aircraft from December 14 to December 23, 1986. The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds and covered 24,986 miles (40,211 km), more than doubling the old distance record. She received the US annual Harmon Trophy for outstanding international achievements in the aeronautics, and is the first woman recipient of the Collier Trophy for "the greatest achievement in aeronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety" of aircraft.

Despite her surname, Jeana Yeager is not related to Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight.

In the news

Today in Aviation

June 23

  • 2012 – A Colombian Army Cessna 208B Caravan crashed during near to Tocaima, all four on board killed.
  • 2006 – The RAF Retire the Canberra from service after 55 years.
  • 1985Air India Flight 182, a Boeing 747, is bombed by Sikh extremists. It crashes into the ocean near Ireland, killing all 329 people on board.
  • 1959 – Lockheed F-104A-5-LO Starfighter, 56-742, c/n 183-1030, to General Electric Flight Test, June: 1957, performed accelerated service tests on J79 engine. Crashes this date on landing approach at Edwards AFB, California, when split flap condition occurs. Pilot ejects too low and is killed.
  • 1951 – The famous non-fatal Grumman F9F-2 Panther ramp strike accident occurs as Cdr. George Chamberlain Duncan attempts landing on USS Midway in BuNo 125228, during carrier suitability tests in the Atlantic Ocean. Forward fuselage breaks away and rolls down the deck, pilot suffering burns. Footage of this accident has been used in several films including Men of the Fighting Lady, Midway, and The Hunt For Red October.
  • 1951 – Second Avro CF-100 Mk.1, 19102, 'FB-K',crashes on the day it is handed over to the RCAF.
  • 1950 – Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501, a Douglas DC-4, crashes into Lake Michigan 18 miles (29 km) north-northwest of Benton Harbor, Michigan, after entering a squall line and turbulence, killing all 58 people on board. It is the deadliest commercial airliner accident in American history at the time.
  • 1944 – (23–27) Los Negros-based U. S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberators of the Thirteenth Air Force fly an average of 21 daily bombing sorties against Yap. Two are shot down and 21 damaged.
  • 1944 – (Overnight) Japanese aircraft in small numbers conduct night raids against U. S. Navy forces off Saipan, damaging several amphibious warfare and auxiliary ships.
  • 1941 – During the second day of Operation Barbaross, the Soviets lose another 1,000 aircraft.
  • 1924 – The prototype Focke-Wulf A 16 monoplane made its first flight. Capable of carrying four passengers, it was the first product of Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH.
  • 1919 – Six Zeppelins (LZ 46, LZ 79, LZ 91, LZ103, LZ 110, and LZ 111) are destroyed at Nordholz by their own crews in order to prevent them from falling into Allied hands.
  • 1916Victor Chapman of Lafayette Escadrille becomes the first US airman to be killed in action, shot down near Verdun.
  • 1913 – The S-21 Sikorsky Russky Vityaz ("Russian Knight"), designed by Igor Sikorsky and built by the RBVZ, a redesigned variant of the Bolshoi Baltiski, as the first large aircraft intended exclusively as a bomber, first flies on this date, the world's first four-motored aircraft. It is lost in a freak accident during 1913 military trials when the Gnôme rotary on a Moller II pusher biplane (some sources cite a Morane design) tears loose and hits the giant bomber.
  • 1784 – First US balloon flight (13 year old Edward Warren).


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