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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

Hot air balloon
Hot air balloon
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.

A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is the gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule) which carries the passengers and a source of heat. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope. Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the surrounding air. In today's sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the mouth of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material such as Nomex.

Recently, balloon envelopes have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as hot dogs, rocket ships, and the shapes of commercial products. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than just being pushed along by the wind are known as airships or, more specifically, thermal airships. (Full article...)

Selected image

Grumman JRF-5 Goose
Credit: USN
This JRF-5 Grumman JRF-5 Goose was assigned to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida (USA), in 1941 and remained on the station throughout the Second World War. Only one of these aircraft flew from the station and was used for utility purposes, including photography.

Did you know

...that sailplane winglets were first successfully implemented by American inventor Peter Masak? ...that the airfields captured in the battle of Tinian were used for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? ... that to open the swing door on the General Aircraft Hamilcar glider and allow vehicles to emerge, pilots had to climb out of the glider's cockpit and slide down 15 feet of fuselage?

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The following are images from various aviation-related articles on Wikipedia.

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Selected biography

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?"

Selected Aircraft

B-17 on bomb run.jpg

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 planes, the airplane outperformed both the other entries and the Air Corps' expectations. Although losing the contract due to an accident, the Air Corps was so in favor of the B-17 that they ordered 13 B-17s regardless. Evolving through numerous design stages, from B-17A to G, the Flying Fortress is considered the first truly mass-produced large aircraft. From its pre-war inception, the USAAC touted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a high-flying, long-ranging potent bomber capable of defending itself. With the ability to return home despite extensive battle damage, its durability, especially in belly-landings and ditchings, quickly took on mythical proportions.

The B-17 was primarily involved in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial targets. The United States Eighth Air Force based in England and the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy complemented the RAF Bomber Command's night-time area bombing in Operation Pointblank, which helped secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for Operation Overlord. The B-17 also participated, to a lesser extent, in the War in the Pacific.

Today in Aviation

August 16

  • 2010AIRES Flight 8250, a Boeing 737-700 splits in three after a hard landing due to pilot error at Gustavo Rojas Pinilla Airport, San Andrés, Colombia. Out of the 125 passengers and 6 crew members on board, two passengers died and 113 were injured.
  • 2010 – The Government of Canada announces that the name of the Canadian Armed Forces Air Command will revert to “Royal Canadian Air Force, ” the name it held as an independent armed service until 1968.
  • 2009 – YV-212 T, a Britten-Norman Islander, ditches into the sea short of Simón Bolívar International Airport, Venezuela. The aircraft is written off but all nine people on board are rescued.
  • 2009 – First flight of the AVCEN Jetpod, it crashed shortly after take-off from Taiping Airport, Malaysia, killing the pilot.
  • 2009 – Two Russian Knights air display Sukhoi Su-27 jets collided whilst training, killing one pilot, Igor Tkachenko, and injuring several civilians on the ground. The accident occurred near Zhukovsky Airfield, outside of Moscow.
  • 2009 – An Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Bell 214ST crashed on a training flight near Karaj, Iran, four killed.
  • 2006 – Colonel Herschel H. Green, U.S. Air Force (Ret.) American pilot and World War II Ace, died. Green was the leading ace of the Fifteenth Air Force downing 18 enemy aircraft and destroying 10 more on the ground. (b. 1920)
  • 2002 – The 2002 Khankala Mi-26 crash occurred when Chechen rebels with a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile brought down a Mil Mi-26 helicopter in a minefield and resulted in the death of 127 Russian troops and air crew. This is the greatest loss of life in the history of helicopter aviation and one of the deadliest disasters in Russian military history.
  • 1995 – Concorde sets a new speed record for a round-the-world flight. It returns to JFK International Airport in New York after a journey lasting 31 hours 27 min, passing through Toulouse, Dubai, Bangkok, Guam, Honolulu and Acapulco.
  • 1991Indian Airlines Flight 257, a Boeing 737, hits high ground during descent about 30 km from the Imphal airport. All six crew members and 63 passengers were killed.
  • 1987Northwest Airlines Flight 255, an McDonnell Douglas MD-82, crashes on takeoff from Detroit as a result of pilot error. Of 155 on board, 4-year-old Cecelia Cichan is the only survivor.
  • 1986 – Using a Strela 2 (SAM-7 GRAIL) surface-to-air missile, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army shoots down a Sudan Airways Fokker F-27 Friendship 400 M taking off from Malakai, Sudan, killing all 60 people on board.
  • 1969 – Darryl Greenamayer sets a new piston-engine airspeed record in a heavily modified Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat named Conquest I. His record speed of 776.45 km/h (482.46 mph) topples a record that had stood for 30 years. (FAI Record File Number 10366)
  • 1965United Airlines Flight 389, a Boeing 727, crashes into Lake Michigan at night, after the pilots apparently misread their altimeters; all 24 passengers and six crew perish in the first fatal crash of the Boeing 727.
  • 1960 – Captain (later Colonel) Joseph Kittinger (USAF) sets a world record for highest parachute jump (102,800 ft or 31,333 m) and longest parachute freefall (85,300 ft or 25,999 m) while testing high altitude parachute escape systems in Project Excelsior.
  • 1944 – The Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket-powered interceptor is used against enemy bombers for the first time no earlier than 17 Aug 1944. Their base was bombed on 16 Aug forcing them to flush.
  • 1943 – Royal Navy Grumman Avenger I, out of Naval Auxiliary Air Facility Lewiston, Maine, ditches in Sebago Lake near Raymond, Maine and sinks. Crew uninjured. Plane listed as missing, so it’s still out there.
  • 1942 – U.S. Navy airship L-8, a former Goodyear advertising blimp, of ZP-32, departed Treasure Island, San Francisco, California, with crew of two officer-pilots. Five hours later the partially deflated L-8 is sighted drifting over Daly City, California where it touches down sans crew. Nothing is ever found of Lt. Ernest D. Cody and Ensign Charles E. Adams. It is assumed that they were lost over water but were never found. The control car from this blimp is now in the National Museum of Naval Aviation, NAS Pensacola, Florida.
  • 1942 – The 82nd Airborne (All American) paratroop division is formed.
  • 1936 – Seaplanes from Barcelona support a Republican landing on Majorca. In reaction, three Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 bombers, three Italian Fiat CR.32 fighters, and various Spanish Nationalist aircraft are sent to be based on the island. The presence of the CR.32 s precludes any further Republican air attacks on Majorca.
  • 1933 – Stuart Roosa, American astronaut and command pilot of Apollo 14, was born. (d. 1994)