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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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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.

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Giant Plane Comparison.jpg
Credit: Clem Tillier

An overlay diagram showing four of the largest wide-body aircraft ever built, the Hughes H-4 Hercules (the "Spruce Goose", aircraft with the greatest wingspan), the Antonov An-225 Mriya (the largest freight aircraft), the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (soon to be the largest version of the Jumbojet), and the Airbus A380-800 (the largest passenger aircraft).

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Did you know

...that in 1929 the Graf Zeppelin completed a circumnavigation of the globe in 21 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes?

...that the fighter pilot Aleksandr Kazakov destroyed 32 German and Austro-Hungarian planes during WWI, while his formal tally of 17 is explained by the fact that only planes crashed in the Russian-held territory were officially counted?

...that the Pterodactyl Ascender (pictured) has been one of the most influential designs in ultralight aviation?

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Pregnant Guppy NASA.jpg

The Pregnant Guppy was a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft built in the USA and used for ferrying outsized cargo items, most notably NASA's components of the Apollo moon program. The Pregnant Guppy was the first of the Guppy line of aircraft produced by Aero Spacelines, Inc. The design also inspired similar designs such as the jet-powered Airbus Beluga, and the Boeing 747 LCF designed to deliver Boeing 787 parts.

  • Span:141 feet, 3 inches.
  • Length: 127 feet.
  • Height: 31 feet, 3 inches.
  • Engines: 4 3500hp P&W R-4360.
  • Cruising Speed: 250 mph
  • First Flight:September 19, 1962
  • Number built: 1
...Archive/Nominations

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Sir Hugh Trenchard (cropped).jpg
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Hugh Montague Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard GCB OM GCVO DSO (3 February 1873 – 10 February 1956) was a British officer who was instrumental in establishing the Royal Air Force. He has been described as the Father of the Royal Air Force.

During his formative years Trenchard struggled academically, failing many examinations and only just succeeding in meeting the minimum standard for commissioned service in the British Army. As a young infantry officer, Trenchard served in India and in South Africa. During the Boer War, Trenchard was critically wounded and as a result of his injury, he lost a lung, was partially paralysed and returned to Great Britain. While convalescing in Switzerland he took up bobsleighing and after a heavy crash, Trenchard found that his paralysis was gone and that he could walk unaided. Some months later, Trenchard returned to South Africa before volunteering for service in Nigeria. During his time in Nigeria, Trenchard commanded the Southern Nigeria Regiment for several years and was involved in efforts to bring the interior under settled British rule and quell inter-tribal violence.

In 1912, Trenchard learned to fly and was subsequently appointed as second in command of the Central Flying School. He held several senior positions in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I, serving as the commander of Royal Flying Corps in France from 1915 to 1917. In 1918, he briefly served as the first Chief of the Air Staff before taking up command of the Independent Air Force in France. Returning as Chief of the Air Staff under Winston Churchill in 1919, Trenchard spent the following decade securing the future of the Royal Air Force. He was Metropolitan Police Commissioner in the 1930s and a defender of the RAF in his later years.

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Today in Aviation

July 2

  • 2009 – A Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado F.3 crashes near the Rest and Be Thankful beauty spot in Glen Kinglass, Arrochar, Scotland. The aircraft was on a routine training flight from No. 43 Squadron RAF Leuchars in Fife resulting in 2 crew killed in the accident. The crew were pilot Kenneth Thompson and weapons systems officer Nigel Morton.
  • 2007 – OH-58D Kiowa 91-0560 from 3–17 Cavalry Regiment is shot down along a canal south of Baghdad in Babil province with small arms, both pilots were rescued by strapping themselves onto the stub wings of an AH-64 Apache. Helicopter was later destroyed.[7][8]
  • 2005First Trans-Atlantic flight re-enactment: Steve Fossett and co-pilot Mark Rebholz recreated the Firstdirect crossing of the Atlantic by the British team of John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown. Their flight from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada to Clifden, Ireland in the open cockpit Vickers Vimy replica took 18 hours 25 min with 13 hours flown in instrument flight conditions. Because there was no airport in Clifden, Fossett and Rebholz landed on the 8th fairway of the Connemarra Golf Course.
  • 2005 – A CH-47D Chinook 85-24335 from C Company/159th Aviation Brigade destroyed in a fire on the ground at Ramadi Camp.[9]
  • 2004 – Cassini – Huygens makes its First distant flyby of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.
  • 2000 – Philippine Air Force General Santiago Madrid and Palawan Governor Salvador Socrates were among those killed when a Philippine air force Fokker 50 GAF Nomad N.22 C crashed into the sea off the western province of Palawan.
  • 1994US Airways Flight 1016, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9, crashes while attempting to land at Charlotte, North Carolina during a thunderstorm. 37 of the 51 people on board are killed.
  • 1992 – Braniff Airlines (Braniff III) goes out of business.
  • 1987Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson lift off their balloon 'Virgin Atlantic' (at the time, the largest ever flown at 2.3 million cubic feet of capacity) from Sugarloaf Mountain for the Firsttransatlantic flight in a hot air balloon.
  • 1985 – Launch of Giotto, European robotic spacecraft mission from the European Space Agency, intended to fly by and study Halley's Comet.
  • 1985 – Death of David Charles Purley, GM, British racing driver in the crash of his Pitts Special aerobatic biplane. Purley is perhaps best known for his actions at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix, where he abandoned his own race and attempted to save the life of fellow British driver Roger Williamson, whose car was upside down on fire following a horrific accident.
  • 1984 – Entered Service: Mirage 2000 with Escadron de Chasse 1/2.
  • 1982 – Death of Tow Jewett, co-founder of the Quickie Aircraft Corporation, builder of the successful Quickie tandem-winged kitplane, Killed in the crash of the sole Quickie Aircraft Corporation Free Enterprise (Big Bird) prototype during a test flight.
  • 1982 – In the homemade Inspiration I, consisting of a patio chair attached to 45 eight-foot (2.4-m) helium-filled weather balloons, American truck driver Larry Walters lifts off from the back yard of a home in San Pedro, California, planning to drift at an altitude of about 30 feet (9.1 m) for a few hours before using a pellet gun to shoot out some balloons and descend gradually. Instead, Inspiration 1 quickly ascends to an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,572 m). After drifting into controlled airspace near Long Beach Airport, he uses the pellet gun to shoot out several of his balloons before accidentally dropping the pellet gun overboard. He gradually descends, becomes entangled in power lines, climbs down safely, and is arrested.
  • 1963Mohawk Airlines Flight 121, a Martin 4-0-4, crashes near Rochester, New York while attempting takeoff, killing seven of the 43 people on board.
  • 1960 – Textron Inc. purchases Bell Aircraft Corporation.
  • 1959 – First flight of the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite, American ship-based helicopter with anti-submarine, anti-surface threat capability, including over-the-horizon targeting.
  • 1959 – Birth of Wendy Barrien Lawrence, USN Captain, helicopter pilot, engineer, and NASA astronaut, First female graduate of the US Naval Academy to fly in space.
  • 1945 – 532 B-29 Superfortresses drop 3,709 tons (3,364,783 kg) of bombs on Kure, Kumamoto, and other cities in Japan.
  • 1945 – The Okinawa campaign is officially declared over with the complete defeat of Japanese forces there. During the campaign, the Allies have lost 32 ships and naval craft sunk and 368 damaged and over 4,900 naval personnel killed and 4,824 wounded. Most of the ships sunk were victims of kamikazes. The Allies also have lost 763 aircraft during the campaign.
  • 1943 – Lt Charles Hall, becomes First black pilot to shoot down Nazi plane.
  • 1943 – An airstrike on American forces on Rendova Island by 24 Japanese bombers escorted by 48 fighters achieves complete surprise, killing 55 and wounding 77.
  • 1943 – (Overnight) The Allied Northwest African Air Force begins heavy day-and-night attacks against Axis airfields in Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy in preparation for the upcoming invasion of Sicily. Italy claims to fly 650 fighter sorties and Germany 500 between July 1 and 9 in defending against the Allied bombing campaign, but almost all Axis airfields on Sicily are knocked out by the time of the invasion.
  • 1940 – Birth of Georgi Ivanov Kakalov, Bulgarian pilot, First Bulgarian cosmonaut and politician.
  • 1938 – A Heinkel He-116R, German 4 engine long-range mail plane, sets an endurance record, covering 9,942 km (6,178 mi) un-refueled, at an average speed of 214 km/h (133 mph) after a 48 hours 18 min flight.
  • 1937 – Russian pilot Paulina Osipenka sets a women non-stop flight record of 2416 km between Novgorod and Archangelsk with a Beriev MP-1bis, Variant of the Beriev MBR-2, Soviet reconnaissance flying boat.
  • 1934 – The Armée de l’Air is separated from the French Army to become the independent French Air Force, although retaining the name Armée de l’Air.
  • 1926 – Distinguish Flying Cross authorized.
  • 1919U.S. Navy blimp C-8 explodes while landing at Camp Holabird, Maryland, injuring ~80 adults and children who were watching it. Windows in homes a mile away are shattered by the blast.
  • 1919 – The British airship R34 begins the first airship crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and the first east-to-west Atlantic flight, leaving East Fortune, Scotland, to arrive in New York on July 6. The journey becomes a successful two-way crossing when the airship arrives back in the United Kingdom on July 13.
  • 1918 – Death of Percy Griffith Jones, Welsh WWI flying ace, killed in action in his Bristol F.2b.
  • 1918 – Death of Joseph Creuss Callaghan (the mad major), Irish/American WWI flying ace, killed in his Sopwith Dolphin.
  • 1916 – Birth of Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Famous German dive-bomber pilot and The most highly decorated German serviceman of WWII.
  • 1912 – Death of Chester Melvin Vaniman, American acrobatic photographer, adventurer, businessman, famous aviator and balloonist, killed when his airship, the 'Akron', exploded off the New Jersey shore during his 2nd attempt at a trans-Atlantic airship crossing.
  • 1910Claude Grahame-White, in his Farman biplane, won the £1,000 first prize for Aggregate Duration in Flight (1 hr 23 min 20 secs) at the Midlands Aviation Meeting at Wolverhampton
  • 1909 – The first Canadian-built powered heavier-than-air craft, the Baddeck No. 1, nearing completion, in Canada’s first aircraft factory.
  • 1899 – Birth of Cyril Richard Smythe, British WWI flying ace


  1. ^ "Kids feared among 21 dead in Siberia copter crash", Russia Today, July 2, 2013
  2. ^ "Children die in air crash in Russia's Sakha Republic", BBC News, July 2, 2013
  3. ^ "Russian helicopter crash kills at least 19", Reuters, July 2, 2013
  4. ^ "23 die in Yakutia helicopter crash, 5 survive", ITAR-TASS, July 2, 2013
  5. ^ "Helicopter Crash in Siberia Kills at Least 19 - Officials", RIA Novosti, July 2, 2013
  6. ^ Schreck, Adam (3 July 2011). "NATO Boosts Airstrikes on Military Targets in Libya". The Boston Globe (Tripoli). Associated Press. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  7. ^ "Task Force Marne pilots rescued from downed helicopter". Official press release. 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  8. ^ "1991 USAF Serial Numbers". Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  9. ^ "Boeing's CH-47 Chinook 85-24335". Retrieved 2010-07-16. On 2 July 2005, 85-24335 was lost near Ramadi, Iraq, due to an accident. While conducting a cargo transport mission at night under night vision goggles, 85-24335 sat down in a landing zone near Ramadi. A sister ship came in with a sling load and hovered nearby. The rotor wash from the second Chinook loosened the stakes securing the pad to the ground and one or more pads lifted into the rotor system causing the subsequent destruction of 85-24335. Of the crew of five and two passengers, there were some minor injuries, but no personnel were killed. When lost, 85-24335 was 38.74 years old. 

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