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

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, 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 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.

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Color Autochrome Lumière of a Nieuport Fighter in Aisne, France 1917
One of the many innovations of World War I, aircraft were first used for reconnaissance purposes and later as fighters and bombers. Consequently, this was the first war which involved a struggle for control of the air, which turned it into another battlefield, alongside the battlefields of land and sea.

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US Navy Blue Angels Fat Albert (C-130T Hercules)
Credit: Jonathan Zander

The Blue Angels use a United States Marine Corps C-130T Hercules, nicknamed "Fat Albert", for their logistics, carrying spare parts, equipment, and to carry support personnel between shows. Beginning in 1975, "Bert" was used for Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) and short aerial demonstrations just prior to the main event at selected venues, but the JATO demonstration ended in 2009 due to dwindling supplies of rockets.

Did you know

...that Chris Phatswe committed suicide by crashing his Air Botswana plane into two other planes belonging to the airline, effectively crippling operations? ...that No. 112 Squadron RAF was the first unit from any air force to use the "Shark Mouth" logo on P-40 fighter planes? ... that former USAF officer David P. Cooley who was the chief test pilot for the F-117 Nighthawk died in March 2009 while testing the F-22 Raptor?

Selected Aircraft

[[File:|right|250px|]] The Tupolev TB-3 (Russian , Tyazholy Bombardirovschik, Heavy Bomber, civilian designation ANT-6) was a heavy bomber aircraft which was deployed by the Soviet Air Force in the 1930s and during World War II. It was the world's first cantilever wing four-engine heavy bomber. Despite obsolescence and being officially withdrawn from service in 1939, TB-3 performed bomber and transport duties through much of WWII. The TB-3 also saw combat as a Zveno project fighter mothership and as a light tank transport.

  • Span: 41.80 m (137 ft 2 in)
  • Length: 24.4 m (80 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 8.50 m (27 ft 11 in)
  • Engines: 4× Mikulin M-17F V12 engines, 525 kW (705 hp) each
  • Maximum Speed: 196 km/h (106 knots, 122 mph) at 3000 m (9,840 ft)
  • First Flight: 22 December 1930

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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?" (more...)

In the news

Wikinews Aviation portal
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Today in Aviation

December 17

  • 2003 - The 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers in the Wright Flyer is celebrated as the 100th birthday of aviation.
  • 1997 - Aerosvit Flight 241, a Yakovlev Yak-42, crashes near Thessaloniki, Greece, killing all 70 occupants - 8 crew and 62 passengers.
  • 1994 - The C-5 Galaxy sets a national record after taking off with the maximum payload of 920,836 pounds (417,684 kg), setting a U. S. national record.
  • 1973 - Pan Am Flight 110, a Boeing 707, is firebombed by Palestinian gunmen while at gate in Rome, Italy, killing 29 of 68 passengers and crew; other gunmen then hijack a Lufthansa Boeing 737 to Athens; in total, 33 die as a result of the firebombing and hijacking.
  • 1971 - The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 comes to an end. The Indian Air Force has lost 72 aircraft and the Pakistani Air Force 94 aircraft.
  • 1969 - The USAF closes Project Blue Book, its 22-year investigation into sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs.
  • 1960 - 1960 Munich Convair 340 crash: A U. S. Air Force Convair C-131D Samaritan crashes due to fuel contamination shortly after takeoff from Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. It crashes in the Ludwigsvorstadt borough of downtown Munich, striking a crowded two-section Munich streetcar. All 20 people on the plane and 32 people on the ground die.
  • 1960 - The visitor's center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, is dedicated on the 57th anniversary of the Wright Flyer's first flight in 1903.
  • 1953 - A USAF Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 44-87741, built as a B-29-90-BW, making an emergency landing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, failed to reach the runway and crashed into an officers housing area at the base, demolishing ten homes and damaging three more. Nine of sixteen crew were killed, as were seven on the ground - an officer, his wife, and five children.
  • 1944 - U. S. Army Air Forces Major Richard Bong scores his 40th and final aerial victory, enough to make him the top-scoring American ace of World War II. He has made all of his kills flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
  • 1943 - For the first time, the Cape Torokina airstrip on Bougainville is used to stage the first Air Solomons (AirSols) raid on Rabaul.
  • 1942 - A U. S. Army Air Forces reconnaissance and bombing raid on Amchitka in the Aluetian Islands destroys every building in the deserted Aleut village there, although no Japanese are on the island.
  • 1941 - (17-20) All surviving Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers of the United States Army Air Force's Far East Air Force are withdrawn from the Philippine Islands to Australia. All other Far Eastern Air Force aircraft are destroyed or captured by the Japanese.
  • 1941 - A Yokosuka E14Y floatplane (Allied reporting name "Glen") launched by the Japanese submarine I-7 conducts a post-strike reconnaissance flight over Pearl Harbor. It is the E14Y's combat debut.
  • 1941 - Aircraft from HMS Audacity (D10) damage the German submarine U-131 so badly that her crew later scuttles her. It is the first time that escort aircraft carrier-based aircraft contribute to the sinking of a submarine.
  • 1941 - In the Philippine Islands, United States Army Air Forces Curtiss P-40 Warhawk pilot Lieutenant Colonel Boyd Wagner shoots down his fifth Japanese plane near Vigan, becoming the first American ace of World War II.
  • 1939 - UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand sign an agreement at Ottawa to set up the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada for the training of aircrew. The Plan was to be administered and organized by the RCAF.
  • 1935 - The Douglas DC-3, one of the most successful airliners of all time, makes its first flight
  • 1903 - The Wright Brothers make four flights in their Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. After years of dedicated research and development, the brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright fly 120 feet (37 m)) in the first practical aeroplane. This may be the first controlled powered heavier-than-air flight and the first photographed powered heavier-than-air flight. On their fourth flight they manage 850 feet (260 m).


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