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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.

Selected article

Traditional general aviation fixed-wing light aircraft, the most numerous class of aircraft in the sector
General aviation in the United Kingdom has been defined as a civil aircraft operation other than a commercial air transport flight operating to a schedule. Although the International Civil Aviation Organization excludes any form of remunerated aviation from its definition, some commercial operations are often included within the scope of general aviation in the UK. The sector operates business jets, rotorcraft, piston and jet-engined fixed-wing aircraft, gliders of all descriptions, and lighter than air craft. Public transport operations include business (or corporate) aviation and air taxi services, and account for nearly half of the economic contribution made by the sector. There are 28,000 Private Pilot Licence holders, and 10,000 certified glider pilots. Although GA operates from more than 1,800 aerodromes and landing sites, ranging in size from large regional airports to farm strips, over 80 per cent of GA activity is conducted at 134 of the larger aerodromes. GA is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, although regulatory powers are being increasingly transferred to the European Aviation Safety Agency. The main focus is on standards of airworthiness and pilot licensing, and the objective is to promote high standards of safety.

Selected picture

Smithsonian Air and Space Planes.jpg
Credit: User:Cybjorg

A collection of aircraft at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

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 the first exhibition at the Boeing Galleries was a series of photographs taken from helicopters and hot air balloons?

Selected Aircraft

F-4E from 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron dropping 500 lb (230 kg) Mark 82 bombs

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic fighter-bomber originally developed for the U.S. Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. Proving highly adaptable, it became a major part of the air wings of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. It was used extensively by all three of these services during the Vietnam War, serving as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, as well as being important in the ground-attack and reconnaissance roles by the close of U.S. involvement in the war.

First entering service in 1960, the Phantom continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon in the U.S. Air Force; the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy; and the F/A-18 in the U.S. Marine Corps. It remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. The Phantom was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab-Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran-Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as an unmanned target in the U.S. Air Force.

Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built. This extensive run makes it the second most-produced Western jet fighter, behind the F-86 Sabre at just under 10,000 examples.

  • Span: 38 ft 4.5 in (11.7 m)
  • Length: 63 ft 0 in (19.2 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 6 in (5.0 m)
  • Engines: 2× General Electric J79-GE-17A axial compressor turbojets, 17,845 lbf (79.6 kN) each
  • Cruising Speed: 506 kn (585 mph, 940 km/h)
  • First Flight: 27 May 1958
  • Number built: 5,195

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Selected biography

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1986-013-04, Helmut Wick (cropped).jpg
Helmut Paul Emil Wick (5 August 1915 - 28 November 1940) was a German Luftwaffe ace and the fourth recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade, the Oak Leaves, was awarded by the Third Reich to recognise extreme bravery in battle or successful military leadership. It was Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Helmut Wick.

Born in Mannheim, Wick joined the Luftwaffe in 1936 and was trained as a fighter pilot. He was assigned to Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" (JG 2--2nd Fighter Wing), and saw combat in the Battles of France and Britain. Promoted to Major in October 1940, he was given the position of Geschwaderkommodore (wing commander) of JG 2--the youngest in the Luftwaffe to hold this rank and position. He was shot down in the vicinity of the Isle of Wight on 28 November 1940 and posted as missing in action, presumed dead. By then he had been credited with destroying 56 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, making him the leading German fighter pilot at the time. Flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109, he claimed all of his victories against the Western Allies.

In the news

Wikinews Aviation portal
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Today in Aviation

June 22

  • 2012 - A Mexican Navy AS656MB Panther went missing, aircraft was found six days later with all on board dead.
  • 2012 - A Mexican Air Force SF260EU crashed into a mountain in western Mexico, two crew killed.
  • 2009 - A United States Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16CM Fighting Falcon, 89-2108, from the 421st Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, based at Hill Air Force Base, Ogden, Utah crashes on a night training flight on the Utah Test and Training Range. The pilot, Capt. George B. Houghton, dies in the crash which occurred 35 miles (56 km) S of Wendover, Utah.
  • 2009 - A United States Army Bell TH-67 Creek crashed near Hartfield, Alabama on a training mission, one of the two occupants killed.
  • 2007 - STS-117, Space Shuttle mission flown by Space Shuttle Atlantis to the ISS, 250th orbital human spaceflight, is back on earth.
  • 2000 - Wuhan Airlines Flight 343, a Xian Y-7, is struck by lightning and crashes in Hanyang District, Wuhan, killing all 42 on board and another 7 on the ground in the worst ever accident involving the Y-7.
  • 1984 - First flight of the Rutan Voyager, first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling.
  • 1982 - Magyar Légier?, Hungarian Air Force Mil Mi-24D, 113, crashes, killing one crew.
  • 1976 - Launch of Salyut 5 (OPS-3), 3rd and last Almaz reconnaissance space station to be launched for the Soviet military.
  • 1973 - Skylab 2, First manned mission to Skylab, the First U. S. orbital space station, is back on earth.
  • 1962 - Air France Flight 117, an international scheduled multi-leg Boeing 707 crashes in a forest hill on the island of Guadeloupe, while approaching Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport; 113 die in that accident with no survivors; the worst accident in Guadeloupe; the cause of the crash is never determined.
  • 1955 - US air patrol plane shot down above Bering sea.
  • 1951 - Pan Am Flight 151, a Lockheed L-049 Constellation en route from Accra, Ghana (then the Gold Coast Territory) to Monrovia, Liberia, crashes into a hill near Sanoye in Bong County, Liberia, 54 miles (86 km) from the airport; all 31 passengers and 6 crew members die.
  • 1951 - Entered Service: Supermarine Attacker with 800 Naval Air Squadron, the Fleet Air Arm's first jet.
  • 1947 - Martin XB-48, 45-59585, makes first flight, a 37-minute, 73-mile hop from Martin's Baltimore, Maryland plant to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, but blows all four tires on its fore-and-aft mounted undercarriage on landing when pilot O. E. "Pat" Tibbs, Director of Flight for Martin, applies heavy pressure to specially designed, but very slow to respond, insensitive air-braking lever. Tibbs and co-pilot E. R. "Dutch" Gelvin are uninjured.
  • 1946 - No. 436 Squadron was disbanded.
  • 1945 - First flight of the Vickers VC.1 Viking, British twin-engine short-range airliner derived from the Vickers Wellington bomber.
  • 1945 - 412 B-29 s drop 2,290 tons (2,077,474 kg) of bombs on Kure, Wakayama, and other cities in Japan.
  • 1944 - The escort carriers USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) and USS Natoma Bay (CVE-62) catapult U. S. Army Air Forces P-47 Thunderbolts of the 19th Fighter Squadron off for use at Isely Field on Saipan. The first Allied aircraft to be based ashore in the Mariana Islands, the P-47 s are in action a few hours later, making rocket strikes against targets on Tinian.
  • 1944 - Los Negros-based U. S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberators of the Thirteenth Air Force again strike Woleai.
  • 1944 - A Truk-based Japanese Mitsubishi G4 M (Allied reporting name "Betty") damages the American battleship USS Maryland (BB-46) off Saipan with a torpedo.
  • 1943 - In order to better defend Sicily from Allied air attack, Italy and Germany agree to withdraw all of their bombers from Sicily and all but a few from Sardinia, concentrating instead on fighter operations in Sicily and southern Sardinia.
  • 1941 - Royal Air Force Boeing Fortress I, AN522, of 90 Squadron, RAF Great Massingham, flown by F/O J. C. Hawley, breaks up in mid-air over Yorkshire during a training flight. Single survivor, a medical officer from RAE Farnborough, reports that the bomber entered a cumulo-nimbus cloud at 33,000 feet (10,100 m), became heavily iced-up with hailstones entering through open gunports, after which control was lost, the port wing detached, and the fuselage broke in two at 25,000 feet (7,600 m). Survivor, who was in the aft fuselage, was able to bail out at 12,000 feet (3,700 m).
  • 1941 - Within the first hour of the war, Soviet pilot Lieutenant I I. Ivanov of the 46th Fighter Air Regiment rams a Heinkel He 111, the first of 10 Soviet aerial rammings that day and more than 200 during the war; Ivanov is killed in the ramming.
  • 1941 - Soviet Tupolev SB-2 and Ilyushin DB-3 bombers suffer heavy losses in attacks on German airfields near Warsaw; German fighters shoot down 20 out of 25 Soviet bombers on one raid.
  • 1941 - Germany invades the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa). 1,489 Soviet aircraft are destroyed on the first day alone by the German Nazis.
  • 1940 - Flight Lieutenant George Burge of the Royal Air Force, flying a Gloster Sea Gladiator nicknamed 'Faith', claims the First Italian bomber aircraft destroyed over Malta.
  • 1940 - France surrenders to Germany.
  • 1940 - General Albert Kesselring directs Hauptmann Wolfgang Falck to establish the Luftwaffe's first true night fighter unit, Nachtjagdgeschwader 1. It is the birth of the German specialized night fighter force of World War II.
  • 1939 - During the Khalkhin Gol Incident, a dogfight rages for 2½ hours between 120 Imperial Japanese Army aircraft and 95 Soviet Air Force fighters. The Soviets shoot down 31 Japanese aircraft in exchange for 11 of their own.
  • 1934 - First flight of the Fokker F.XXXVI, Dutch four-engined 32-passenger airliner, largest transport designed and built by Fokker.
  • 1933 - The Tupolev ANT-25, Soviet long-range experimental aircraft which was also tried as a bomber. It was used by the Soviet Union for a number of record-breaking flights.
  • 1927 - First flight of the Short S.6 Sturgeon, British prototype single-engined biplane naval reconnaissance aircraft, demonstrator of the corrosion resistance of duralumin aircraft structures.
  • 1910 - The German firm "Delag" inaugurates the first regular passenger-carrying airship service. Between 1910-1914, its five Zeppelin airships carry nearly 35,000 passengers without a fatality over inland German routes.
  • 1909 - Wycoof, Church & Partridge, auto dealers in New York city, acquired the Curtiss line to become the first airplane sales agency.
  • 1907 - A military balloon falls and explodes in Debrecen, Austria-Hungary. Its crew of two French army officers and one Austrian army officer, and ten peasant men on the ground are killed. With thirteen fatalities it was the worst air accident until the 1913 Helgoland Island Air Disaster
  • 1898 - Birth of John Rudkin, British WWI flying ace.
  • 1897 - Birth of Theodor Quandt, German WWI fighter ace, and WWII fighter pilot.
  • 1892 - Birth of Robert Ritter von Greim, German WWI fighter ace who was asked to set up a Chinese air force, He helped to rebuild the Luftwaffe and was appointed to the command of the First Luftwaffefighter pilot school. He has been the last commander of the Luftwaffe in WWII.


  1. ^ Mawad, Dalal; Gladstone, Rick (June 22, 2012). "Syria Shoots Down Turkish Warplane, Fraying Ties Further". Syria;Turkey;Aleppo (Syria);Mediterranean Sea: The New York Times(Nytimes.com). Retrieved 2012. 
  2. ^ "Anonymous, "Syria Shot Down Turkish Jet in International Airspace, Claims Foreign Minister". The Telegraph(Telegraph.co.uk). June 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012. 

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