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The Boeing 747, one of the most iconic aircraft in history.

Aviation is the activities surrounding mechanical flight and the aircraft industry. Aircraft includes fixed-wing and rotary-wing types, morphable wings, wing-less lifting bodies, as well as lighter-than-air craft such as hot air 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 in 1896; then a large 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 by the introduction of the jet which permitted a major form of transport throughout the world.

Selected article

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.

Selected image

B-36 tracked gear edit.jpg
Credit: USAF

Convair B-36 with experimental tracked landing gear, to reduce ground pressure for soft-field use.

...Archive/Nominations

Did you know

...that British Airways unveiled a new corporate identity in 1997 which involved repainting its fleet with around 20 daring tailfin designs by world artists? ...that the Blohm und Voss Bv 144 was an attempt by Nazi Germany to develop an advanced commercial airliner for post-war service? ... that Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the captain of US Airways Flight 1549, also runs an aviation safety consultant company and has worked as an accident investigator for the USAF, NTSB, and FAA?

Selected Aircraft

Me109 G-6 D-FMBB 1.jpg

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the early 1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as an all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. The Bf 109 was produced in greater quantities than any other fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Fighter production totalled 47% of all German aircraft production, and the Bf 109 accounted for 57% of all German fighter types produced.

The Bf 109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force in World War II, although it began to be partially replaced by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 from 1941. The Bf 109 was the most successful fighter of World War II, shooting down more aircraft than any of its contemporaries. Originally conceived as an interceptor, it was later developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter bomber, day-, night- all-weather fighter, bomber destroyer, ground-attack aircraft, and as reconnaissance aircraft.

The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of World War II: Erich Hartmann, the top scoring fighter pilot of all time with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories, and Günther Rall with 275 victories. All of them flew with Jagdgeschwader 52, a unit which exclusively flew the Bf 109 and was credited with over 10,000 victories, chiefly on the Eastern Front. Hartmann chose to fly the Bf 109 in combat throughout the war, despite being offered the use of the Me 262. Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest scoring German ace in the North African Campaign, also scored all of his 158 victories flying the Bf 109, against Western Allied pilots.

  • Span: 9.925 m (32 ft 6 in)
  • Length: 8.95 m (29 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 2.60 m (8 ft 2 in)
  • Engine: 1× Daimler-Benz DB 605A-1 liquid-cooled inverted V12, 1,475 PS (1,455 hp, 1,085 kW)
  • Cruising Speed: 590 km/h (365 mph) at 6,000 m (19,680 ft)
  • First Flight: 28 May 1935
...Archive/Nominations

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Selected biography

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1986-013-04, Helmut Wick (cropped).jpg
Helmut Paul Emil Wick (5 August 1915 – 28 November 1940) was a German Luftwaffe ace and the fourth recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade, the Oak Leaves, was awarded by the Third Reich to recognise extreme bravery in battle or successful military leadership. It was Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Helmut Wick.

Born in Mannheim, Wick joined the Luftwaffe in 1936 and was trained as a fighter pilot. He was assigned to Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" (JG 2—2nd Fighter Wing), and saw combat in the Battles of France and Britain. Promoted to Major in October 1940, he was given the position of Geschwaderkommodore (wing commander) of JG 2—the youngest in the Luftwaffe to hold this rank and position. He was shot down in the vicinity of the Isle of Wight on 28 November 1940 and posted as missing in action, presumed dead. By then he had been credited with destroying 56 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, making him the leading German fighter pilot at the time. Flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109, he claimed all of his victories against the Western Allies.

In the news

Today in Aviation

October 19

  • 1992 – A Panavia Tornado crashes in the evening on the Nellis AFB, Nevada range, 100 miles NE of Las Vegas, during Red Flag combat exercises, killing two crew from the Italian Air Force.
  • 1988Indian Airlines Flight 113, a Boeing 737, hits an electric mast 5 miles (8 kilometers) out on approach in poor visibility in Ahmedabad, India. All six crew members and 124 of 129 passengers are killed.
  • 1986 – República de Moçambique Tupolev Tu-134A-3, C9-CAA, c/n 63457, with crew of nine and 35 passengers, crashes on approach at 2121 hrs. to Maputo International Airport (MPM/FQMA), Mozambique after flight from Mbala Airport (MMQ), Zambia, killing eight crew and 26 passengers, including Mozambique President Samora Machel who had attended a meeting of African leaders in Zambia. While approaching Maputo, an inadvertent selection of the MATSAPA VOR frequency caused the crew to execute a premature 37-degrees turn. Although the pilot queried the turn, no effort was made to verify it by using the available navigational aids. The aircraft descended below the 3000 feet limit in spite of not having visual contact with Maputo. The crew erroneously assumed a power failure at Maputo. A 32-second GPWS warning was ignored and the aircraft collided with the ground at 2187 feet, bounced and crashed into an uphill slope. The aircraft broke up, slid across the South African/Swaziland border and caught fire.
  • 1978 – A USAF Boeing B-52D-75-BO Stratofortress, 56-0594, of the 22d Bomb Wing, crashes at 0730 hrs. in light fog in a plowed field ~2.5 miles SE of March AFB, near the rural community of Sunnymead, California, shortly after take-off. Five crew killed, but one is able to escape the burning wreckage and was reported in stable condition at the base hospital. Traffic was disrupted on nearby Interstate 15E.
  • 1977 – Concorde made its first landing in New York City and for New Yorkers, it was love at 1st sight!
  • 1972 – A USAF Convair F-106B-55-CO Delta Dart, 57-2538, c/n 8-27-32, of the Air Defense Weapons Center, Tyndall AFB, Florida, is lost in a crash, pilot KWF. This second accident in three days will be the last fatal Tyndall accident until the loss of a Lockheed T-33A on 30 May 1975.
  • 1971 – Grumman Grumman E-2B Hawkeye and LTV A-7B Corsair II, both from the USS Midway, CVA-41, collide over the Sea of Japan, with E-2 crashing near the stern of the carrier, all five crew lost. A-7 pilot ejected safely, picked up by helicopter from MCAS Iwakuni in good condition.
  • 1968 – USAF test pilot Major William “Pete” Knight wins the Harmon international aviator’s trophy for “exceptional individual piloting performance”.
  • 1965 – The U. S. Army’s month-long Ia Drang Valley campaign begins in South Vietnam. It will be the first combat action of the U. S. Army’s first Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and the first major combat between American and North Vietnamese forces.
  • 1965 – Second (of five) Ling-Temco-Vought XC-142As, 62-5922, suffers second accident when the number one main propeller pitch actuator suffers a hydraulic fluid blow-by problem just prior to touchdown at the Vought facility at NAS Dallas, Texas. A ground loop results with substantial damage to the landing gear and wing. In 1966 the damaged wing is replaced with an undamaged unit from XC-142A No. 3, 62-5923, out-of-service since its own landing accident on 3 January 1966. 62-5922 returns to flight status on 23 July 1966.
  • 1965 – (19-25) U. S. Army attack helicopters and U. S. Air Force cargo aircraft play a major role in lefting the Siege of Plei Me in South Vietnam.
  • 1958 – A People’s Republic of China-owned Tupolev Tu-104 crashes at Kanash during a regular flight between Beijing and Moscow, killing all 65 passengers and crew members. Among those killed are 16 Chinese government officials, one Briton, four East Germans and the son of the Cambodian ambassador to China.
  • 1954 – First flying prototype Grumman XF9F-9 Tiger, BuNo 138604, suffers flame-out, the pilot, Lt. Cdr. W. H. Livingston, was able to put it down on the edge of a wood near the Grumman company runway at Bethpage, Long Island, New York, escaping with minor injuries. Airframe written-off. Production models will be redesignated F11F.
  • 1948 – Royal Navy Grumman Avenger III, KE443, 'FD 068', of 703 Squadron, shorebased at Ford, Sussex, noses over on landing aboard HMS Illustrious. Airframe is not repaired and ends up on fire dump at Gosport, Hampshire, surviving until at least mid-1950.
  • 1945 – No. 168 (HT) Squadron flew Canadian Red Cross medical supplies from Rockcliffe Airport to Poland. One Boeing Fortress crashed at Munster, Germany, during the operation, killing the five crew members.
  • 1944 – In a meeting at Mabalacat on Luzon, the newly arrived commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s First Air Fleet, Vice Admiral Takijiro Ohnishi, commanding Japanese naval air forces in the Philippine Islands, observes that ordinary air tactics have become ineffective against the U. S. Navy and suggests the formation of a special attack unit to crash Zero fighters carrying 250-kg (551-lb) bombs bodily onto American warships. It is the beginning of the formation of kamikaze suicide units.
  • 1944 – In the second and final day of Operation Millet, the British aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable and HMS Victorious again launch heavy strikes against Nancowry harbor and the airfields on Car Nicobar. In a dogfight with Japanese Nakajima Ki-43 (Allied reporting name “Oscar”) fighters, the British shoot down seven Ki-43 s in exchange for a Hellcat and two Corsairs.
  • 1943 – The RCAF’s worst accident killed 24 servicemen travelling on leave from Newfoundland to Montreal. The aircraft was a Liberator from No. 10 B. R. Squadron.
  • 1933Fokker Y1O-27, 31-601, '22', of the 32d Bombardment Squadron, Rockwell Field, California, during ferry flight from Rockwell to Brooks Field, Texas, pilot Capt. Albert F. Hegenberger, on leg between Tucson, Arizona and Midland, Texas, loses Prestone coolant out of starboard engine, engine temperature rises so he shuts it down. Forced down five miles short of Midland Airport, pilot does not get the landing gear completely locked down, collapses on touch down. Aircraft repaired.
  • 1931 – Sole Lockheed-Detroit YP-24, 32-320, crashes during tests at Wright Field, Ohio. During evaluation flight, landing gear extension system fails with gear only partly deployed when in-cockpit crank handle breaks off. Through a series of violent maneuvers, test pilot Lt. Harrison Crocker managed to get the gear retracted and was planning to attempt a belly-landing, but upon orders from the ground, sent aloft written on the sides of Boeing P-12D And Douglas O-25C aircraft, he bails out. Four Y1P-24 pre-production models cancelled due to Detroit Aircraft's shaky financial situation. Two will be built as Consolidated Y1P-25s after Detroit's chief designer Robert Wood joins that firm. Second Y1P-25 completed with a supercharger as Y1A-11.
  • 1917 – Love Field in Dallas, Texas is opened.
  • 1911 – Aviation pioneer Bob Fowler flies from San Franscisco to Jacksonville, Florida. The west to east coast-to-coast journey has taken almost four months to complete (Arrival Date Feb 12, 1912).


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