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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

UA93 path.svg
United Airlines Flight 93 was a scheduled U.S. domestic passenger flight from Newark International Airport, in Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco International Airport. It was hijacked by four men as part of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Over 40 minutes into the flight the hijackers breached the cockpit, overpowered the pilots and took over control of the aircraft, diverting it toward Washington, D.C. Several passengers and crew members made telephone calls aboard the flight and learned about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As a result, the passengers decided to mount an assault against the hijackers and wrest control of the aircraft.

The plane crashed in a field just outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, about 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Washington, D.C., killing all 44 people aboard, including the hijackers. Many witnessed the impact from the ground and news agencies began reporting on the event within an hour. The plane fragmented upon impact, leaving a crater, and some debris was blown miles from the crash site. The remains of everyone on board the aircraft were later identified. Subsequent analysis of the flight recorders revealed how the actions taken by the passengers prevented the aircraft from reaching either the White House or United States Capitol. A permanent memorial is planned for construction on the crash site. The chosen design has been the source of criticism and is scheduled to be dedicated in 2011.

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1783 balloonj.jpg
Credit: Library of Congress LOT 13403, no. 12 [P&P]. Author unknown.

1786 description of the historic Montgolfier Brothers' 1783 balloon flight. Illustration with engineering proportions and description.

Did you know

...in 1931 Amelia Earhart flew a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro to a then world altitude record of 18,415 feet (5613 m)?

...that Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris accomplished the world's first powered flight in 1856, with a glider that was pulled behind a running horse?

... 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?

Selected Aircraft

An ERJ-145 of BA CitiExpress (now BA Connect) takes off from Bristol Airport (UK)

The Embraer ERJ-145 is a regional jet produced by Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace company. The ERJ 145 is the largest of a family of airliners, which also includes the ERJ 135, ERJ 140, and Legacy. All aircraft in the series are powered by two turbofan engines. It is one of the most popular regional jet families in the world with primary competition coming from the Canadair Regional Jet.

The first flight of the ERJ 145 was on August 11, 1995, with the first delivery in December 1996 to ExpressJet Airlines (then the regional division of Continental Airlines). ExpressJet is the largest operator of the ERJ 145, with 270 of the nearly 1000 ERJ 145s in service. The second largest operator is American Eagle, with 206 ERJ 145 aircraft. Chautauqua Airlines also operates 95 ERJ 145s through its alliances with American Connection, Delta Connection, US Airways Express and United Express. By some accounts, the ERJ 145 has a cost of ownership of about $2,500,000 per year.

  • Span: 20.04 m (65 ft 9 in)
  • Length: 29.9 m (98 ft 0 in)
  • Height: 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in)
  • Engines: 2× Rolls-Royce AE 3007A turbofans, 33.0 kN (7,420 lbf) thrust each
  • Cruising Speed: 834 km/h (518 mph, Mach 0.78)
  • First Flight: August 11, 1995
  • Number built1000

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Selected biography

Erich Alfred "Bubi" Hartmann (19 April 1922 - 20 September 1993), 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. He scored 352 aerial victories (of which 345 were won against the Soviet Air Force, and 260 of which were fighters) in 1,404 combat missions and engaging in aerial combat 825 times while serving with the Luftwaffe in World War II. During the course of his career Hartmann was forced to crash land his damaged fighter 14 times. This was due to damage received from parts of enemy aircraft he had just shot down, or mechanical failure. Hartmann was never shot down or forced to land due to enemy fire.[1]

Hartmann, a pre-war glider pilot, joined the Luftwaffe in 1940 and completed his fighter pilot training in 1942. He was posted to Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) on the Eastern front and was fortunate to be placed under the supervision of some of the Luftwaffe's most experienced fighter pilots. Under their guidance Hartmann steadily developed his tactics which would earn him the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 25 August 1944 for claiming 301 aerial victories.

He scored his 352nd and last aerial victory on 8 May 1945. He and the remainder of JG 52 surrendered to United States Army forces and were turned over to the Red Army. Convicted of false "War Crimes" and sentenced to 25 years of hard labour, Hartmann would spend 10 years in various Soviet prison camps and gulags until he was released in 1955. In 1956, Hartmann joined the newly established West German Luftwaffe and became the first Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 71 "Richthofen". Hartmann resigned early from the Bundeswehr in 1970, largely due to his opposition of the F-104 Starfighter deployment in the Bundesluftwaffe and the resulting clashes with his superiors over this issue. Erich Hartmann died in 1993.

In the news

Today in Aviation

December 13

  • 2011 - The engine of an unarmed, contractor-operated U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle fails two minutes after takeoff from Seychelles International Airport on Mahé in the Seychelles. The Reaper descends too quickly while its operator attempts an emergency landing at the airport, touches down too far along the runway, bounces over a perimeter road and breakwater, and crashes and sinks in the Indian Ocean about 200 feet (61 meters) offshore.[3]
  • 1995 - Banat Air Flight 166, a Romavia Antonov An-24 (registered YR-AMR), crashes after taking off from Verona airport, because of overloading and ice accumulation on the wings. All 4 crew and all 45 passengers die.
  • 1994 - American Eagle Flight 3379, a Jetstream 31, crashed 5 miles short of the runway in Raleigh-Durham, killing 15 of the 20 on board. The night flight crashed due to an engine failure and not following the proper procedures after it.
  • 1993 - Lockheed U-2R, 68-10339, Article 061, eleventh airframe of initial R-model order of twelve, N819X allocated, delivered to USAF 22 October 1968, but retained for trials. Delivered to 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing by early 1972. To 9th SRW, 1976. On take-off, this date, from Beale AFB, California, jet goes out of control, experienced U-2 Instructor Pilot Capt. Richard Schneider ejects but does not survive.
  • 1977 - University of Evansville men's basketball team plane crash occurred when a DC-3 aircraft chartered from the Indianapolis-based National Jet crashed on takeoff at the Evansville Regional Airport, killing 29, including the University of Evansville basketball team, support staff and boosters of the team.
  • 1972 - Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt begin the third and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) or "Moonwalk" of Apollo 17. This was the last manned mission to the moon of the 20th century.
  • 1971 - The RCAF's 436 Squadron Hercules was fired on by the Indian Navy over the Bay of Bengal.
  • 1968 - USAF Martin B-57E Canberra 54-4284 of the 8th Tactical Bombardment Squadron, 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, has mid-air collision with Fairchild C-123B-5-FA Provider 54-0600 over Xieng Khovang, southern Laos, all three crew of the B-57 KWF, pilot of C-123 survives bail-out, lands in tree, rescued by an HH-3, but six others are KWF.
  • 1955 - The de Havilland Comet 3, the world's first jet airliner, visits an American airport for the first time when it stops at Honolulu International Airport during an around-the-world flight. It then flies to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 5 hours 39 min.
  • 1948 - A blade on the starboard rotor of the second prototype Bratukhin B-11 Soviet twin-rotor helicopter fails, and the subsequent crash kills the two crew.
  • 1944 - As the U. S. Navy Mindoro Attack Force is about to round the southern cape of Negros to enter the Sulu Sea, a Japanese Aichi D3 A (Allied reporting name "Val") dive bomber operating as a kamikaze hits the light cruiser USS Nashville (CL-43), flagship for the Mindoro invasion, badly damaging her, wounding ground forces commander Brigadier General William C. Dunckel, and killing and wounding members of his staff. Another kamikaze badly damages a destroyer.
  • 1944 - (13-17) Six U. S. Navy escort carriers provide direct support for the U. S. invasion of Mindoro. They fly 864 sorties, losing nine planes, none to enemy action.
  • 1943 - North American's P-51 B Mustangs accompany 651 heavy bombers to U-boat pens at Kiel, Germany. Three days later a Mustang downs a German fighter for the first time.
  • 1943 - Since November 14, the Japanese have lost 122 aircraft based in the Marshall Islands.
  • 1942 - U. S. Navy PBY Catalina flying boats begin night harassment raids against Munda airfield.
  • 1939 - A Fairey Seafox floatplane catapulted from the British light cruiser HMS Ajax spots fire for her guns while she fires on the German "pocket battleship" Admiral Graf Spee during the Battle of the River Plate. It is the first time in World War II that a ship-based seaplane spots gunfire for a Royal Navy ship and is considered a classic example of the use of a floatplane in such a role; the pilot, Lieutenant E. D. G. Lewin, receives the Distinguished Service Cross for the action. The Seafox goes on to conduct reconnaissance flights over the Admiral Graf Spee daily until her crew scuttles her on December 17.
  • 1935 - A U.S. Army Air Corps officer is killed in the crash of a Boeing P-12F, 32-100, of the 36th Pursuit Squadron, 3 miles E of Dale, South Carolina, while en route from Langley Field, Virginia, to Miami, Florida for an air race and exhibition. Maj. Arthur K. Ladd was the assistant supply officer for the General Headquarters Air Force. Fairbanks Air Base, Fairbanks, Alaska, is renamed Ladd Field on 1 December 1939.
  • 1913 - 13-14 - German balloonist Hugo Kaulen stays aloft for 87 hours. This record lasted until 1935.
  • 1872 - Paul Haenlein tests the first airship with a gas engine in Brünn, achieving 19 km/h. The tests were stopped because of a shortage of money.


  1. ^ Toliver & Constable 1986, p. 12.
  2. ^ Associated Press, "Japan: Chinese Plane Seen Over Disputed Islands," The Washington Post, December 14, 2012, p. A10.
  3. ^ Whitlock, Craig, "Drone Crashes Pile Up Abroad," The Washington Post, December 1, 2012, p. A8.

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