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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. (Full article...)

Selected article

Aircraft spotter on the roof of a building in London. St. Paul's Cathedral is in the background.
Aircraft spotter on the roof of a building in London. St. Paul's Cathedral is in the background.
The Battle of Britain (German: Luftschlacht um England) is the name given to the sustained strategic effort by the German Luftwaffe during the summer and autumn of 1940 to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force (RAF), especially Fighter Command. The name derives from a speech made on 18 June 1940 in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, "The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin..."

Had it been successful, the planned amphibious and airborne landings in Britain of Operation Sea Lion would have followed. The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces. It was the largest and most sustained bombing campaign attempted up until that date. The failure of Nazi Germany to destroy Britain's air defence or to break British morale is considered its first major defeat.

British historians date the battle from 10 July to 31 October 1940, which represented the most intense period of daylight bombing. German historians usually place the beginning of the battle in mid-August 1940 and end it in May 1941, on the withdrawal of the bomber units in preparation for the attack on the USSR. (Full article...)

Selected image

Two F-22A Raptor in column flight - (Noise reduced).jpg
Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Ben Bloker
Lt. Col. James Hecker (front) and Lt. Col. Evan Dertein line up their F/A-22 Raptor aircraft behind a KC-10 Extender to refuel while en route to Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Colonel Hecker commands the first operational Raptor squadron -- the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va. The unit went to Hill for operation Combat Hammer, the squadron's first deployment, Oct. 15. The deployment has a twofold goal: complete a deployment and to generate a combat-effective sortie rate away from home.

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 during World War II, Marine Fighting Squadron 215 established four new U.S. Marine Corps records in the South Pacific including having the most ace pilots? ...that the Lockheed NF-104A (pictured), equipped with a reaction control system as well as a rocket engine to supplement a jet engine, was a low-cost training vehicle for American astronauts in the 1960s?

Selected Aircraft

XB-36 first flight.jpg
The Convair B-36 was a strategic bomber built by Convair for the United States Air Force, the first to have truly intercontinental range. Unofficially nicknamed the "Peacemaker", the B-36 was the first thermonuclear weapon delivery vehicle, the largest piston aircraft ever to be mass-produced, and the largest warplane of any kind.

The B-36 was the only American aircraft with the range and payload to carry such bombs from airfields on American soil to targets in the USSR, as storing nuclear weapons in foreign countries was diplomatically delicate. The nuclear deterrent the B-36 afforded may have kept the Soviet Army from fighting alongside the North Korean and Chinese armies during the Korean War. Convair touted the B-36 as an "aluminum overcast," a "long rifle" to give SAC a global reach. When General Curtis LeMay headed SAC (1949-57) and turned it into an effective nuclear delivery force, the B-36 formed the heart of his command. Its maximum payload was more than four times that of the B-29, even exceeding that of the B-52.

  • Span: 230 ft 0 in (70.10 m)
  • Length: 162 ft 1 in (49.40 m)
  • Height: 46 ft 9 in (14.25 m)
  • Engines: 6× Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 "Wasp Major" radials, 3,800 hp (2,500 kW) each
  • Cruising Speed: 230 mph (200 kn, 380 km/h) with jets off
  • Range: 6,795 mi (5,905 nmi, 10,945 km) with 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) payload
  • First Flight: 8 August 1946

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Selected biography

Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan (born June 17, 1943 in Estacada, Oregon) is an American aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft. He is most famous for his design of the record-breaking Voyager, which was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the suborbital rocket plane SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004.

In the news

Today in Aviation

April 19

  • 2012 – Slovenian pilot Matevž Lenarčič returns to Slovenia, completing a 62,000-mile (99,839-km) round-the-world flight in a Pipistrel Virus SW914 ultralight aircraft, claiming to be the first person to circle the world in an ultralight without a copilot. The flight, sponsored as the "GreenLight World Flight," had begun from Slovenia on 8 January 2012 and had included passing Mount Everest at an altitude of 29,344 feet (8.944 meters), some 300 feet (91 meters) above the mountain's peak.[1][2][3]
  • 2011 – Tawang Town Mil Mi-17 crash was an accident of a Pawan Hans Mil Mi-172. The helicopter has 18 passengers and 5 crew. The flight took off from Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Assam to a heliport near the town Tawang Town in Tawang district. The flight was trying to land at the heliport which is on top of a hill but the helicopter crashed into a gorge 15 m height from the heliport and caught fire. The accident occurred at around 1:30 pm. Reports say that 17 of 23 passengers and crew were killed in the accident.
  • 2009 – Russian airline Arkaim is established.
  • 2009 – A Kenyan Air Force Habin Y-12 crashes at Marsabit killing 14 of the 17 people on board. Among the dead are four Members of Kenya's parliament and two Deputy Ministers.
  • 2009CanJet Flight 918 is seized on the ground by an armed man who slipped through security checks at Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay, Jamaica; all passengers are released early on; six crew members are kept as hostages for several hours before being freed unharmed.
  • 2006 – Launch of New Horizons, NASA robotic spacecraft mission to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to fly by and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, and Hydra. NASA may also attempt flybys of one or more other Kuiper belt objects.
  • 2006 – Scott Crossfield, American pilot, first man to fly at Mach 2, dies (b. 1921). On November 20, 1953, Crossfield flew at twice the speed of sound as he piloted the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket to a speed of 1,291 mph (2,078 km/h, Mach 2.005).
  • 2006 – Jet Airways announces its purchase of Air Sahara, creating the largest domestic airline in India.
  • 2006 – A Slovak Air Force Antonov An-24 crashes in Hungary.
  • 2001 – Launch: Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-100 at 18:40:42 UTC. Mission highlights: ISS assembly flight 6A: robotic arm; First spacewalk by a Canadian Chris Hadfield.
  • 2000Air Philippines Flight 541, a Boeing 737-200, crashes in a coconut grove on Samal Island, Davao del Norte while preparing to approach the Davao International Airport, killing all 131 people on board in the worst ever accident involving the 737-200.
  • 2000 – A Rwandan Air Force Antonov An-8, TL-ACM, chartered from Central African Airlines, crashes near Pepa, Democratic Republic of the Congo after engine failure caused by a suspected bird strike. All 24 on board were killed. A Rwanda army major, two captains, two lieutenants, and some soldiers were killed along with the 4 Russian crewmembers on take-off from Pepa. The soldiers were returning on home leave, while others were planning to attend the president's swearing-in ceremony. Other sources report a death toll of around 57 and suggest the Antonov might have been imported into Rwanda illegally.
  • 1993 – South Dakota governor George Mickelson and seven others aboard a state-owned aircraft crashed in Iowa. All eight perished in the crash.
  • 1993 – STS-54, space shuttle Endeavour is back on earth.
  • 1991 – Death of Paul F. Bikle, American Engineer, Record setting glider pilot and Director of the NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility.
  • 1988 – Kwon Ki-ok, first Korean female pilot, dies (b. 1901). Ki-ok was the first Korean female aviator, as well as being the first female pilot in China.
  • 1985 – Landed: Space Shuttle Discovery STS-51-D at 13:54:28 UTC KSC, Runway 33. Mission highlights: Multiple comsat deployments, first flight of a sitting politician in space, Jake Garn, first impromptu EVA of program to fix Syncom F3 (Leasat 3).
  • 1983 – Death of Ham, also known as Ham the Chimp and Ham the Astrochimp, first chimpanzee launched into outer space in the American space program.
  • 1975 – Death of Antonio Reali, Italian WWI fighter ace.
  • 1972 – North Vietnamese Air Force aircraft bomb U. S. Navy ships at sea, the only such attack during the Vietnam War. Two MiG-17 s cause minor damage to the guided-missile light cruiser USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5) and heavy damage to the destroyer USS Higbee (DD-806).
  • 1968 – The U. S. Army's First Cavalry Division (Airmobile) begins Operation Delaware in the A Shau Valley in South Vietnam, a helicopter-borne assault on North Vietnamese Army forces there. Facing heavy antiaircraft fire, it loses 10 helicopters shot down and 13 more damaged on the first day of the operation.
  • 1968 – Death of Gaetano Arturo Crocco, Italian scientist and aeronautics pioneer, founder of the Italian Rocket Society.
  • 1966 – U. S. Navy aircraft strike the coal port of Cam Pha, North Vietnam, only 35 miles (56 km) from North Vietnam's border with the People's Republic of China.
  • 1965 – Suborbital flight of Gemini 2, US unmanned mission intended as a test flight for the Gemini spacecraft's heat shield.
  • 1949 – Larry Walters, American “lawn chair” pilot was born (d. 1993). Walters took flight to altitudes of 16,000 into controlled airspace near Long Beach airport on July 2, 1982 in a homemade aircraft, dubbed Inspiration I that he had fashioned out of a Sears’s patio chair and 42 helium-filled weather balloons.
  • 1947 – A Boeing B-29A-85-BW Superfortress, 44-87638, of the 30th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group, 20th Air Force, crashes and explodes one mile off shore at Kwajalein Island after take-off. Sixteen KWF, no bodies are recovered. One of the dead is Capt. Quitman B. Jackson, 24, of Columbia, South Carolina, a 1944 graduate of West Point. He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Charlotte R. Jackson, and their child, Susan, of Kansas City, Missouri, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Q. B. Jackson, of 1523 Lady Street, Columbia, South Carolina
  • 1946 – First flight (Glide) of the Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, joint NACA-U. S. Army/USAF supersonic research project, first of the so-called X-planes.
  • 1945 – The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an inter-airline body to fix rates and ensure cooperation on safety procedures, is formed; it succeeds the International Air Traffic Association, set up in 1919.
  • 1945 – During an Eighth Air Force raid on a rail marshaling yard at Aussig, Czechoslovakia, Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Me 262s shoot down five Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses. The fifth, Boeing B-17G-5-BO Flying Fortress, 42-31188, named "Dead Man's Hand", of the 709th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group,[28] piloted by Lt. Robert F. Glazener, on its 111th combat mission, becomes the last heavy bomber of the 8th Air Force lost to enemy fighters in the European theatre. Seven of eight crew escape the falling bomber, although no chutes were reported being seen (by this point, the two waist gunners were not being carried.)
  • 1944 – U.S. Navy airship K-133, of ZP-22, operating out of Naval Air Station Houma, Louisiana, is caught in a thunderstorm while patrolling over the Gulf of Mexico. Ship goes down and twelve of thirteen crew are lost. Sole survivor is recovered after spending 21 hours in the water.
  • 1944 – The British Eastern Fleet makes the first British air strike against Japanese-held territory as Barracudas and Corsairs from the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and SBD Dauntlesses and F6 F Hellcats from the U. S. carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) raid Sabang, Sumatra, damaging harbor facilities and destroying a radar station and Japanese aircraft on nearby airfields. One Hellcat is lost.
  • 1938 – The Aragon Offensive ends, with Spanish Nationalists having routed Republican forces and cut Republican-controlled Spain in two. Nationalist air superiority has proven decisive in their victory, and both the Germans supporting the Nationalists and the Soviets supporting the Republicans have learned a great deal about fighter support to infantry.
  • 1937 – Flying a redesigned H-1 Racer featuring extended wings, Howard Hughes set a new transcontinental airspeed record by flying non-stop from Los Angeles to New York City in 7 hours, 28 min and 25 seconds (beating his own previous record of 9 hours, 27 min). His average speed over the flight was 322 mph (518 km/h).
  • 1936 – Italian aircraft bomb Ethiopian forces attacking Italian troops at Birkut.
  • 1933 – The U. S. Navy conducts the first mass seaplane flight from Oahu to French Frigate Shoals, a 759-mile flight. The aircraft return via the Gardner Pinnacles, completing the round trip in 8 hours 10 min.
  • 1927 – Canadian Vickers Vanessa made its first flight, from the St Lawrence at the Canadian Vickers plant by Flt Lt R. S. (Bill) Grady, who then made a series of flights, terminating on 27 April.
  • 1926 – Death of Leopoldo Eleuteri, Italian WWI flying ace.
  • 1924 – The Argentinean Marquis de I. Pescara’s helicopter establishes in France a flying record of 2,550 feet (c. 777 m) in 4 min, 11 seconds. This helicopter provides for auto-rotation (free blade rotation) in case of engine failure. This invention is a life-saving device, as it allows for a measure of control and lift.
  • 1923 – The De Bothezat helicopter lifted 2 persons to a height of 1.2 m
  • 1922 – Erich Hartmann, German, world’s most successful fighter pilot, is born (d. 1993). Erich Alfred “Bubi” Hartmann, also nicknamed “The Blond Knight Of Germany” by friends and “The Black Devil” by his enemies, was a German fighter pilot and still is the highest scoring fighter ace in the history of aerial combat with 352 kills.
  • 1920 – Two aircraft written-off in separate accidents at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C.
  • 1919 – Jules Védrines claims an FF25,000 prize by landing an aircraft (a Caudron G-3) on the roof of a department store in Paris. Védrines is injured and his aircraft is damaged beyond repair in the hard landing in a space only 28 m x 12 m (92 ft x 40 ft).
  • 1918 – Birth of Tadeusz Góra, Polish glider pilot and WWII pilot.
  • 1916 – Birth of Ennio "Banana" Tarantola, Spanish War and WWII Italian fighter ace.
  • 1916 – During the Gallipoli campaign, the Royal Navy balloon ship Manica lofts her observation balloon operationally for the first time in the first operational use of a balloon ship during World War I. The observer in her balloon directs fire against Ottoman positions for the armored cruiser Bacchante. Manica’s work during the campaign impresses the British Admiralty for it to order additional balloon ships.
  • 1916 – First Zeppelin raid on the UK by the German Navy. They bomb the towns of Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn in the United Kingdom killing more than 20, in the first major aerial bombardment of a civilian target.
  • 1910 – Lieutenant Paul Ward Beck drops sandbag "bombs" over Los Angeles from an aeroplane piloted by Louis Paulhan.
  • 1907 – Louis Blériot flies and crashes his powered monoplane Nº V at Bagatelle, France.
  • 1899 – Birth of George Ebben Randall, British WWI Flying ace.
  • 1898 – Birth of Basil Henry Moody, South African WWI Flying ace.
  • 1898 – Birth of Carl-August von Schoenebeck, German WWI flying ace, Raid pilot, Arado test pilot and WWII high-ranking officer.
  • 1895 – Birth of Air Marshal Sir Arthur "Mary" Coningham KCB, KBE, DSO, MC, DFC, AFC, RAF, Royal Flying Corps flying ace during WWI, Conningham was later a senior Royal Air Force commander during WWII, as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief 2nd Tactical Air Force and subsequently the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Flying Training Command.
  • 1895 – Birth of Ivan Alexandrovich Orlov, Russian WWI flying ace, Self Glider and Aircraft designer.
  • 1893 – Birth of Maurice Joseph Emile Robert, French WWI flying ace.
  • 1888 – Birth of Millard Fillmore Harmon Jr. American WWI pilot and Lieutenant General in the USAAF during the Pacific campaign in WWII.
  • 1883 – Birth of James McKinley Hargreaves, Scottish WWI flying ace, One of the first Aces in history.
  • 1784 – One of the largest hot-air balloon ever made, called 'Le Flesselle' by the Montgolfier brothers, makes an ascent at Lyon, France. The balloon's capacity is 700,000 cubic feet and it goes up to 3,000 feet.


  1. ^ Associated Press, "Lofty Achievement," Washington Post Express, April 20, 2012, p. 8.
  2. ^ Moore, Jim (February 22, 2012). "Flying the Pacific on 93 gallons of fuel Pilot to circumnavigate world in Pipistrel motor glider". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Retrieved February 23, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Grady, Mary (March 30, 2012). "Pipistrel LSA Flies Above Mt. Everest". AVweb. Retrieved March 31, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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