Aviation

The oldest dream of mankind

People always wanted to fly and there were many attempts through history. Far before the first planes there were already some good theories and maybe even successful attempts. The Chinese were the first who succeeded to bring people in the sky. The question is why they did not went through. When Europeans found possibilities to fly, many could not leave the idea of ‘the ship’ except for Leonardo da Vinci. The idea of a fixed wing stayed on for ages. Of course, inspiration came from nature and no animal has fixed wings there. As often, when the army searched for opportunities, innovation went fast. In the First World War, planes did not have real purpose but for morale. In World War II planes were so important you could not win the war without it. The ‘soccerwar’ was the last war with propeller aircrafts, the Jet was already born. In the meanwhile, the consumer discovered the plane. It started as a ridiculous dream, now we can hardly live without it.

Acknowledgements: This source collection has been developed by Bjorn Pels with the support of Laura Steenbrink. The source collection makes use of source provided by the National Library of France, museum-digital, Institut für Realienkunde, The Wellcome Library, Royal Museums Greenwich, Tekniska museet, Digital Mechanism and Gear Library, museum-digital, Flygvapenmuseum, National Library of Denmark, National Library of France, IMAGNO brandstätter images GesmbH, Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg and KIK-IRPA.

The Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus

The origin of mankind's desire to fly derives from the very distant past. From the earliest legends there have been stories of men strapping birdlike wings, stiffened cloaks or other devices to themselves and attempting to fly, typically by jumping off a tower. The Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus (Image) is one of the earliest known, others originated from India, China and the European Dark Ages. During this early period the issues of lift, stability and control were not understood, and most attempts ended in serious injury or death. (The Wellcome Library V0036069, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

The Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus

The origin of mankind's desire to fly derives from the very distant past. From the earliest legends there have been stories of men strapping birdlike wings, stiffened cloaks or other devices to themselves and attempting to fly, typically by jumping off a tower. The Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus (Image) is one of the earliest known, others originated from India, China and the European Dark Ages. During this early period the issues of lift, stability and control were not understood, and most attempts ended in serious injury or death. (The Wellcome Library V0036069, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Man-carrying kites

The kite may have been the first form of man-made aircraft. It was invented in China possibly as far back as the 5th century BC by Mozi (Mo Di) and Lu Ban (Gongshu Ban). Kites spread from China around the world. After its introduction in India, the kite further evolved into the fighter kite, where an abrasive line is used to cut down other kites. Man-carrying kites are believed to have been used extensively in ancient China, for both civil and military purposes and sometimes enforced as a punishment. An early recorded flight was that of the prisoner Yuan Huangtou, a Chinese prince, in the 6th Century AD. Stories of man-carrying kites also occur in Japan, following the introduction of the kite from China around the seventh century AD. It is said that at one time there was a Japanese law against man-carrying kites. The kite in the image may be old, but this example could not carry a man. (Institut für Realienkunde Kulturpool, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Man-carrying kites

The kite may have been the first form of man-made aircraft. It was invented in China possibly as far back as the 5th century BC by Mozi (Mo Di) and Lu Ban (Gongshu Ban). Kites spread from China around the world. After its introduction in India, the kite further evolved into the fighter kite, where an abrasive line is used to cut down other kites. Man-carrying kites are believed to have been used extensively in ancient China, for both civil and military purposes and sometimes enforced as a punishment. An early recorded flight was that of the prisoner Yuan Huangtou, a Chinese prince, in the 6th Century AD. Stories of man-carrying kites also occur in Japan, following the introduction of the kite from China around the seventh century AD. It is said that at one time there was a Japanese law against man-carrying kites. The kite in the image may be old, but this example could not carry a man. (Institut für Realienkunde Kulturpool, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Hot air balloons

The image shows a flying hot-air balloon in flight with a fire burning. From ancient times the Chinese have understood that hot air rises. They applied the principle to a type of small hot air balloon called a sky lantern. A sky lantern consists of a paper balloon under or just inside which a small lamp is placed. Sky lanterns are traditionally launched for pleasure and during festivals. According to Joseph Needham, such lanterns were known in China from the 3rd century BC. Their military use is attributed to the general Zhuge Liang (180–234 AD), who is said to have used them to scare off the enemy troops. There is evidence that the Chinese also "solved the problem of aerial navigation" using balloons, hundreds of years before the 18th century. (The Wellcome Library V0040874, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Hot air balloons

The image shows a flying hot-air balloon in flight with a fire burning. From ancient times the Chinese have understood that hot air rises. They applied the principle to a type of small hot air balloon called a sky lantern. A sky lantern consists of a paper balloon under or just inside which a small lamp is placed. Sky lanterns are traditionally launched for pleasure and during festivals. According to Joseph Needham, such lanterns were known in China from the 3rd century BC. Their military use is attributed to the general Zhuge Liang (180–234 AD), who is said to have used them to scare off the enemy troops. There is evidence that the Chinese also "solved the problem of aerial navigation" using balloons, hundreds of years before the 18th century. (The Wellcome Library V0040874, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Leonardo da Vinci

In the 15th century, engineers began to discover and define some of the basics of rational aircraft design. The most famous of them was Leonardo da Vinci, although his work remained unknown until 1797, and so had no influence on the developments over the next three hundred years. While his designs were at least rational, they were not based on particularly good science. Leonardo studied flying birds, while analysing it and anticipating many principles of aerodynamics. He did at least understand that "An object offers as much resistance to the air as the air does to the object." Newton would not publish the Third law of motion until 1687. From the last years of the 15th century onwards, he wrote about and sketched many designs for flying machines and mechanisms, including ornithopters, fixed-wing gliders, rotorcraft and parachutes. His early designs were man-powered types including ornithopters and rotorcraft, however he came to realise the impracticality of this and later turned to controlled gliding flight, also sketching some designs powered by a spring. (museum-digital, 9367 DE-MUS-831210/97, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Leonardo da Vinci

In the 15th century, engineers began to discover and define some of the basics of rational aircraft design. The most famous of them was Leonardo da Vinci, although his work remained unknown until 1797, and so had no influence on the developments over the next three hundred years. While his designs were at least rational, they were not based on particularly good science. Leonardo studied flying birds, while analysing it and anticipating many principles of aerodynamics. He did at least understand that "An object offers as much resistance to the air as the air does to the object." Newton would not publish the Third law of motion until 1687. From the last years of the 15th century onwards, he wrote about and sketched many designs for flying machines and mechanisms, including ornithopters, fixed-wing gliders, rotorcraft and parachutes. His early designs were man-powered types including ornithopters and rotorcraft, however he came to realise the impracticality of this and later turned to controlled gliding flight, also sketching some designs powered by a spring. (museum-digital, 9367 DE-MUS-831210/97, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Francesco Lana de Terzi

In 1670, Francesco Lana de Terzi presented an idea that suggested lighter than air flight would be possible by using copper foil spheres that, containing a vacuum, would be lighter than the displaced air to lift an airship. While theoretically sound, his design was not feasible: the pressure of the surrounding air would crush the spheres. The idea of using vacuum to produce lift is now known as vacuum airship, but it remains unfeasible with any materials existing today. (National Library of France 12148/btv1b85095922, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Francesco Lana de Terzi

In 1670, Francesco Lana de Terzi presented an idea that suggested lighter than air flight would be possible by using copper foil spheres that, containing a vacuum, would be lighter than the displaced air to lift an airship. While theoretically sound, his design was not feasible: the pressure of the surrounding air would crush the spheres. The idea of using vacuum to produce lift is now known as vacuum airship, but it remains unfeasible with any materials existing today. (National Library of France 12148/btv1b85095922, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Bartolomeu de Gusmão

In 1709, Bartolomeu de Gusmão presented a petition to King John V of Portugal, begging for support for his invention of an airship, in which he expressed his greatest confidence. The official public test of the machine, which was set for June 24, 1709, did never take place. According to contemporary reports, however, Gusmão appears to have made several less ambitious experiments with this machine, descending from eminences. It is certain that Gusmão was working on this principle at the public exhibition he gave before the Court on August 8, 1709, in the hall of the Casa da Índia in Lisbon, when he propelled a ball through the roof by combustion. (museum-digital 9161 DE-MUS-831210/59, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Bartolomeu de Gusmão

In 1709, Bartolomeu de Gusmão presented a petition to King John V of Portugal, begging for support for his invention of an airship, in which he expressed his greatest confidence. The official public test of the machine, which was set for June 24, 1709, did never take place. According to contemporary reports, however, Gusmão appears to have made several less ambitious experiments with this machine, descending from eminences. It is certain that Gusmão was working on this principle at the public exhibition he gave before the Court on August 8, 1709, in the hall of the Casa da Índia in Lisbon, when he propelled a ball through the roof by combustion. (museum-digital 9161 DE-MUS-831210/59, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Hot-air ballooning

1783 was a productive year in the development of hot-air balloons and aviation. Between June 4 and December 1 five aviation premiers took place in France. Flying in hot-air balloons became a major "rage" in Europe in the late 18th century, providing the first detailed understanding of the relationship between altitude and the atmosphere. The work on developing a steerable (or dirigible) balloon (now called an airship) continued sporadically throughout the 19th century. The first powered, controlled, sustained lighter-than-air flight is believed to have taken place in 1852 when Henri Giffard flew 15 miles (24 km) in France, with a steam engine driven craft. Non-steerable balloons were employed during the American Civil War by the Union Army Balloon Corps. The young Ferdinand von Zeppelin first flew as a balloon passenger with the Union Army of the Potomac in 1863. In the early 1900s hot-air ballooning was a popular sport in Britain. These privately owned balloons usually used coal gas as the lifting gas. This has half the lifting power of hydrogen so the balloons had to be larger, but coal gas was far more widely available and the local gas works sometimes provided a special lightweight formula for ballooning events. (Royal Museums Greenwich 116646 PAE2496 PV2496, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Hot-air ballooning

1783 was a productive year in the development of hot-air balloons and aviation. Between June 4 and December 1 five aviation premiers took place in France. Flying in hot-air balloons became a major "rage" in Europe in the late 18th century, providing the first detailed understanding of the relationship between altitude and the atmosphere. The work on developing a steerable (or dirigible) balloon (now called an airship) continued sporadically throughout the 19th century. The first powered, controlled, sustained lighter-than-air flight is believed to have taken place in 1852 when Henri Giffard flew 15 miles (24 km) in France, with a steam engine driven craft. Non-steerable balloons were employed during the American Civil War by the Union Army Balloon Corps. The young Ferdinand von Zeppelin first flew as a balloon passenger with the Union Army of the Potomac in 1863. In the early 1900s hot-air ballooning was a popular sport in Britain. These privately owned balloons usually used coal gas as the lifting gas. This has half the lifting power of hydrogen so the balloons had to be larger, but coal gas was far more widely available and the local gas works sometimes provided a special lightweight formula for ballooning events. (Royal Museums Greenwich 116646 PAE2496 PV2496, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Airships

Airships were originally called "dirigible balloons" and are still sometimes called dirigibles today. The extensive use started in the 19th century. However, these aircrafts were generally short-lived and extremely frail. Routine, controlled flights would not occur until the advent of the internal combustion engine. The first aircraft to make routine controlled flights were non-rigid airships (sometimes called "blimps".) The most successful early pioneering pilot of this type of aircraft was the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont, who effectively combined a balloon with an internal combustion engine. On October 19, 1901 he flew his airship "Number 6" over Paris from the Parc de Saint Cloud around the Eiffel Tower and back in under 30 minutes to win the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. The construction of the first Zeppelin airship began in 1899 in a floating assembly hall on Lake Constance in the Bay of Manzell, Friedrichshafen. This was intended to make the starting procedure easier, as the hall could easily be aligned with the wind. Although airships were used in both World War I and II, and continue on a limited basis to this day, their development has been largely overshadowed by heavier-than-air craft. (The Wellcome Library V0040863, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Airships

Airships were originally called "dirigible balloons" and are still sometimes called dirigibles today. The extensive use started in the 19th century. However, these aircrafts were generally short-lived and extremely frail. Routine, controlled flights would not occur until the advent of the internal combustion engine. The first aircraft to make routine controlled flights were non-rigid airships (sometimes called "blimps".) The most successful early pioneering pilot of this type of aircraft was the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont, who effectively combined a balloon with an internal combustion engine. On October 19, 1901 he flew his airship "Number 6" over Paris from the Parc de Saint Cloud around the Eiffel Tower and back in under 30 minutes to win the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. The construction of the first Zeppelin airship began in 1899 in a floating assembly hall on Lake Constance in the Bay of Manzell, Friedrichshafen. This was intended to make the starting procedure easier, as the hall could easily be aligned with the wind. Although airships were used in both World War I and II, and continue on a limited basis to this day, their development has been largely overshadowed by heavier-than-air craft. (The Wellcome Library V0040863, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Emanuel Swedenborg

This model made Emanuel Swedenborg famous. The first published paper on aviation was "Sketch of a Machine for Flying in the Air" by Emanuel Swedenborg published in 1716. This flying machine consisted of a light frame covered with strong canvas and contained two large oars or wings moving on a horizontal axis, arranged so that the upstroke met with no resistance while the down stroke provided lifting power. Swedenborg knew that the machine would not fly, but suggested it as a start and was confident that the problem would be solved. He wrote: "It seems easier to talk of such a machine than to put it into actuality, for it requires greater force and less weight than exists in a human body. The science of mechanics might perhaps suggest a means, namely, a strong spiral spring. If these advantages and requisites are observed, perhaps in time to come some one might know how better to utilize our sketch and cause some addition to be made so as to accomplish that which we can only suggest. Yet there are sufficient proofs and examples from nature that such flights can take place without danger, although when the first trials are made you may have to pay for the experience, and not mind an arm or leg." Swedenborg would prove prescient in his observation that a method of empowering an aircraft was one of the critical problems to be overcome. (Tekniska museet105241, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/)

Emanuel Swedenborg

This model made Emanuel Swedenborg famous. The first published paper on aviation was "Sketch of a Machine for Flying in the Air" by Emanuel Swedenborg published in 1716. This flying machine consisted of a light frame covered with strong canvas and contained two large oars or wings moving on a horizontal axis, arranged so that the upstroke met with no resistance while the down stroke provided lifting power. Swedenborg knew that the machine would not fly, but suggested it as a start and was confident that the problem would be solved. He wrote: "It seems easier to talk of such a machine than to put it into actuality, for it requires greater force and less weight than exists in a human body. The science of mechanics might perhaps suggest a means, namely, a strong spiral spring. If these advantages and requisites are observed, perhaps in time to come some one might know how better to utilize our sketch and cause some addition to be made so as to accomplish that which we can only suggest. Yet there are sufficient proofs and examples from nature that such flights can take place without danger, although when the first trials are made you may have to pay for the experience, and not mind an arm or leg." Swedenborg would prove prescient in his observation that a method of empowering an aircraft was one of the critical problems to be overcome. (Tekniska museet105241, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/)

Tower jumping

Abbás Ibn Firnás (810-887) was a brilliant philosopher who studied chemistry, physics and astronomy. He designed a water clock called Al-Maqata-Maqata and was the first to develop the art of carving rock crystal. Until then, only the Egyptians knew the crystal facets. Ibn Firnás also created an armillary sphere to represent the movement of stars and a planetary, being the first to use the astronomical tables Sinhind of Indian origin in the Iberian Peninsula which were basic to the development of European science later. Abbás Ibn Firnás jumped from a tower in Córdoba with a huge canvas to break his fall in a serious attempt to fly in 852. He suffered minor injuries and because of this is regarded as the creator of the first parachute. At the age of 65 years, in 875, he made his second attempt. A tailor made to him a pair of wooden wings covered with silk cloth that had adorned with feathers. Although the landing was bad, he broke both his legs, the flight was successful. He remained in the air about ten seconds and was widely watched by a crowd that he had invited in advance. One thousand years later, throughout the 19th century, tower jumping was replaced by the equally fatal but equally popular balloon jumping as a way to demonstrate the continued uselessness of man-power and flapping wings. Meanwhile, the scientific study of heavier-than-air flight began to come close. (Digital Mechanism and Gear Library dmg:9123004 CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/)

Tower jumping

Abbás Ibn Firnás (810-887) was a brilliant philosopher who studied chemistry, physics and astronomy. He designed a water clock called Al-Maqata-Maqata and was the first to develop the art of carving rock crystal. Until then, only the Egyptians knew the crystal facets. Ibn Firnás also created an armillary sphere to represent the movement of stars and a planetary, being the first to use the astronomical tables Sinhind of Indian origin in the Iberian Peninsula which were basic to the development of European science later. Abbás Ibn Firnás jumped from a tower in Córdoba with a huge canvas to break his fall in a serious attempt to fly in 852. He suffered minor injuries and because of this is regarded as the creator of the first parachute. At the age of 65 years, in 875, he made his second attempt. A tailor made to him a pair of wooden wings covered with silk cloth that had adorned with feathers. Although the landing was bad, he broke both his legs, the flight was successful. He remained in the air about ten seconds and was widely watched by a crowd that he had invited in advance. One thousand years later, throughout the 19th century, tower jumping was replaced by the equally fatal but equally popular balloon jumping as a way to demonstrate the continued uselessness of man-power and flapping wings. Meanwhile, the scientific study of heavier-than-air flight began to come close. (Digital Mechanism and Gear Library dmg:9123004 CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/)

Sir George Cayley

This is a portrait of George Cayley, who was a professor and president of Cambridge University in the period of 1838-1854 by carrying out an intense activity for teaching and research in several fields of engineering. He was a famous personality in his time on a national level, because of a recognised reputation of his works that still today are considered of fundamental importance in aeronautic engineering. (Digital Mechanism and Gear Library - dmg:38056023 , CC BY-NC-ND, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/)

Sir George Cayley

This is a portrait of George Cayley, who was a professor and president of Cambridge University in the period of 1838-1854 by carrying out an intense activity for teaching and research in several fields of engineering. He was a famous personality in his time on a national level, because of a recognised reputation of his works that still today are considered of fundamental importance in aeronautic engineering. (Digital Mechanism and Gear Library - dmg:38056023 , CC BY-NC-ND, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/)

Aerial steam carriage

This is a model of a steam carriage, as created in 1840. It is a drawing directly extracted from Cayley's work. Following, Henson's 1842 design for an aerial steam carriage was revolutionary. Although they were only designs, it was the first idea in history for a propeller-driven fixed-wing aircraft. In 1871 Wenham and Browning made the first wind tunnel. (museum-digital 9344 DE-MUS-831210/62, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Aerial steam carriage

This is a model of a steam carriage, as created in 1840. It is a drawing directly extracted from Cayley's work. Following, Henson's 1842 design for an aerial steam carriage was revolutionary. Although they were only designs, it was the first idea in history for a propeller-driven fixed-wing aircraft. In 1871 Wenham and Browning made the first wind tunnel. (museum-digital 9344 DE-MUS-831210/62, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Monoplane

This is an image of a captain in front of his airplane, an Albatros B-II, photographed around 1914. The Abatros B-II was developed after the idea of the monoplane in the 19th centurt. In 1857 Félix du Temple proposed a monoplane with a tail plane and retractable undercarriage. Developing his ideas with a model powered first by clockwork and later by steam, he eventually achieved a short hop with a full-size manned craft in 1874. In 1856, the Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris made the first flight higher than his point of departure, by having his glider "L'Albatros artificiel" pulled by a horse on a beach. He reportedly achieved a height of 100 meters, over a distance of 200 meters. (Flygvapenmuseum FVMF001750, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Monoplane

This is an image of a captain in front of his airplane, an Albatros B-II, photographed around 1914. The Abatros B-II was developed after the idea of the monoplane in the 19th centurt. In 1857 Félix du Temple proposed a monoplane with a tail plane and retractable undercarriage. Developing his ideas with a model powered first by clockwork and later by steam, he eventually achieved a short hop with a full-size manned craft in 1874. In 1856, the Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris made the first flight higher than his point of departure, by having his glider "L'Albatros artificiel" pulled by a horse on a beach. He reportedly achieved a height of 100 meters, over a distance of 200 meters. (Flygvapenmuseum FVMF001750, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Gliders

This is an image of a glider from 1893. In the last decade or so of the 19th century, a number of key figures was refining and defining the modern aeroplane. The idea still lacked a suitable engine, while aircraft work focused on stability and control in flight. In 1879 Biot constructed a bird-like glider with the help of Massia and flew in it briefly. Otto Lilienthal became known as the "Glider King" or "Flying Man" of Germany. He duplicated Wenham's work and greatly expanded on it in 1884, publishing his research in 1889 as Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation (Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst). One of his gliders is pictured in this source. In Britain, Percy Pilcher, who had worked for Maxim, built and successfully flew several gliders during the 1890s. The invention of the box kite during this period by the Australian Lawrence Hargrave would lead to the development of the practical biplane. (museum-digital 9362 DE-MUS-831210/289, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Gliders

This is an image of a glider from 1893. In the last decade or so of the 19th century, a number of key figures was refining and defining the modern aeroplane. The idea still lacked a suitable engine, while aircraft work focused on stability and control in flight. In 1879 Biot constructed a bird-like glider with the help of Massia and flew in it briefly. Otto Lilienthal became known as the "Glider King" or "Flying Man" of Germany. He duplicated Wenham's work and greatly expanded on it in 1884, publishing his research in 1889 as Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation (Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst). One of his gliders is pictured in this source. In Britain, Percy Pilcher, who had worked for Maxim, built and successfully flew several gliders during the 1890s. The invention of the box kite during this period by the Australian Lawrence Hargrave would lead to the development of the practical biplane. (museum-digital 9362 DE-MUS-831210/289, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Biplane aircraft

A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two main wings stacked one above the other. The first aircraft that could actually fly, the Wright Flyer, used a biplane wing construction, as did most aircrafts in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage over a monoplane, it produces more drag than a similar unbraced or cantilever monoplane wing. The techniques and materials were improved, while the quest for greater speed made the biplane configuration obsolete for most purposes by the late 1930s. Biplanes offer several advantages over conventional cantilever monoplane designs: they allow lighter wing structures, low wing loading and have a smaller span for a given wing area. However, interference between the airflow over each wing increases drag substantially, and biplanes generally need extensive bracing, which causes additional drag. (KIK-IRPA Brussels [KIK-IRPA n° 30010404] AP_1038459, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)

Biplane aircraft

A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two main wings stacked one above the other. The first aircraft that could actually fly, the Wright Flyer, used a biplane wing construction, as did most aircrafts in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage over a monoplane, it produces more drag than a similar unbraced or cantilever monoplane wing. The techniques and materials were improved, while the quest for greater speed made the biplane configuration obsolete for most purposes by the late 1930s. Biplanes offer several advantages over conventional cantilever monoplane designs: they allow lighter wing structures, low wing loading and have a smaller span for a given wing area. However, interference between the airflow over each wing increases drag substantially, and biplanes generally need extensive bracing, which causes additional drag. (KIK-IRPA Brussels [KIK-IRPA n° 30010404] AP_1038459, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)

Samuel Pierpont Langley

After a distinguished career in astronomy and shortly before becoming Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Samuel Pierpont Langley started a serious investigation into aerodynamics at what is today the University of Pittsburgh. In 1891 he published Experiments in Aerodynamics detailing his research, and then turned to building his designs. He hoped to achieve automatic aerodynamic stability, so he gave little consideration to in-flight control. On May 6, 1896, Langley's Aerodrome No. 5 made the first successful sustained flight of an unpiloted, engine-driven heavier-than-air craft of substantial size. It was launched from a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia. (National Library of Denmark 145575, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Samuel Pierpont Langley

After a distinguished career in astronomy and shortly before becoming Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Samuel Pierpont Langley started a serious investigation into aerodynamics at what is today the University of Pittsburgh. In 1891 he published Experiments in Aerodynamics detailing his research, and then turned to building his designs. He hoped to achieve automatic aerodynamic stability, so he gave little consideration to in-flight control. On May 6, 1896, Langley's Aerodrome No. 5 made the first successful sustained flight of an unpiloted, engine-driven heavier-than-air craft of substantial size. It was launched from a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia. (National Library of Denmark 145575, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Wright brothers

This is a picture of the Wright brothers flyer, a limited edition in sterling silver. Two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904-1905 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although they were not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible. (Flygvapenmuseum VM142550, CC BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)

Wright brothers

This is a picture of the Wright brothers flyer, a limited edition in sterling silver. Two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904-1905 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although they were not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible. (Flygvapenmuseum VM142550, CC BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)

Demoiselle

Thanks to Demoiselle, the technology of aircraft became an official, established technology. Santos-Dumont later added ailerons, between the wings in an effort to gain more lateral stability. His final design, first flown in 1907, was the series of Demoiselle monoplanes (Nos. 19 to 22). The Demoiselle No 19 could be constructed in only 15 days and became the world's first series production aircraft. The Demoiselle could reach a speed of 120 km/h. In 1908 Wilbur Wright travelled to Europe, and, starting in August gave a series of flight demonstrations at Le Mans in France. The following year saw the widespread recognition of powered flight as something other than dreams and hopes. (National Library of France 12148/btv1b53109143z, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Demoiselle

Thanks to Demoiselle, the technology of aircraft became an official, established technology. Santos-Dumont later added ailerons, between the wings in an effort to gain more lateral stability. His final design, first flown in 1907, was the series of Demoiselle monoplanes (Nos. 19 to 22). The Demoiselle No 19 could be constructed in only 15 days and became the world's first series production aircraft. The Demoiselle could reach a speed of 120 km/h. In 1908 Wilbur Wright travelled to Europe, and, starting in August gave a series of flight demonstrations at Le Mans in France. The following year saw the widespread recognition of powered flight as something other than dreams and hopes. (National Library of France 12148/btv1b53109143z, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Rotorcraft

Enrico Forlanini, portrayed on this photograph, was an Italian engineer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer. Forlanini is well known for his work on helicopters, aircraft, hydrofoils and dirigible. In 1877, Enrico Forlanini developed an unmanned helicopter powered by a steam engine. It rose to a height of 13 meters, where it remained for some 20 seconds, after a vertical take-off from a park in Milan.   (Digital Mechanism and Gear Library dmg:32205023, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/)

Rotorcraft

Enrico Forlanini, portrayed on this photograph, was an Italian engineer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer. Forlanini is well known for his work on helicopters, aircraft, hydrofoils and dirigible. In 1877, Enrico Forlanini developed an unmanned helicopter powered by a steam engine. It rose to a height of 13 meters, where it remained for some 20 seconds, after a vertical take-off from a park in Milan.   (Digital Mechanism and Gear Library dmg:32205023, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/)

First military use

Almost as soon as they were invented, airplanes were used for military purposes. The first country to use them for military purposes was Italy, whose aircraft made intelligence, bombing and artillery correction flights in Libya during the Italian-Turkish war (September 1911 – October 1912). The first mission occurred on 23 October 1911. The first bombing mission took place on 1 November 1911. Afterwards, Bulgaria followed this example. Airplanes attacked and reconnoitred the Ottoman positions during the First Balkan War 1912–13. The first war to see major use of airplanes in offensive, defensive and intelligence capabilities was World War I. The Allies and Central Powers both used airplanes and airships extensively. While the concept of using the airplane as an offensive weapon was generally discounted before World War I, the idea of using it for photography was one that was not lost on any of the major forces. All of the major forces in Europe had light aircrafts, typically derived from pre-war sport designs, attached to their intelligence departments. Radiotelephones were also being explored on airplanes, notably the SCR-68, when communication between pilots and ground commander became more and more important. (Tekniska museet TM16321, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/)

First military use

Almost as soon as they were invented, airplanes were used for military purposes. The first country to use them for military purposes was Italy, whose aircraft made intelligence, bombing and artillery correction flights in Libya during the Italian-Turkish war (September 1911 – October 1912). The first mission occurred on 23 October 1911. The first bombing mission took place on 1 November 1911. Afterwards, Bulgaria followed this example. Airplanes attacked and reconnoitred the Ottoman positions during the First Balkan War 1912–13. The first war to see major use of airplanes in offensive, defensive and intelligence capabilities was World War I. The Allies and Central Powers both used airplanes and airships extensively. While the concept of using the airplane as an offensive weapon was generally discounted before World War I, the idea of using it for photography was one that was not lost on any of the major forces. All of the major forces in Europe had light aircrafts, typically derived from pre-war sport designs, attached to their intelligence departments. Radiotelephones were also being explored on airplanes, notably the SCR-68, when communication between pilots and ground commander became more and more important. (Tekniska museet TM16321, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/)

World War I

This is an image of Red Baron in a video game. Years after World War I, the Red Baron is still famous. It was not long before airplanes were shooting at each other, but the lack of any sort of steady point for the gun was a challenge. The French solved this problem when, in late 1914, Roland Garros, a WWI fighter pilot, attached a fixed machine gun to the front of his plane, but while Adolphe Pegoud would become known as the first "ace", getting credit for five victories, before also becoming the first ace to die in action, it was German Luftstreitkräfte Leutnant Kurt Wintgens, who, on July 1, 1915, scored the very first aerial victory by a purpose-built fighter plane, with a synchronized machine gun. Aviators were styled as modern-day knights, doing individual combat with their enemies. Several pilots became famous for their air-to-air combat; the most well known is Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron, who shot down 80 planes in air-to-air combat with several planes. On the Allied side, René Paul Fonck is credited with the most all-time victories at 75, even when later wars are considered. France, Britain, Germany and Italy were the leading manufacturers of fighter planes that saw action during the war, with German aviation technologist Hugo Junkers paving the way for the future of much of the 20th-century aviation, through the pioneering of practical all-metal aircraft in late 1915. (museum-digital 100308 DE-MUS-911113/1825, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

World War I

This is an image of Red Baron in a video game. Years after World War I, the Red Baron is still famous. It was not long before airplanes were shooting at each other, but the lack of any sort of steady point for the gun was a challenge. The French solved this problem when, in late 1914, Roland Garros, a WWI fighter pilot, attached a fixed machine gun to the front of his plane, but while Adolphe Pegoud would become known as the first "ace", getting credit for five victories, before also becoming the first ace to die in action, it was German Luftstreitkräfte Leutnant Kurt Wintgens, who, on July 1, 1915, scored the very first aerial victory by a purpose-built fighter plane, with a synchronized machine gun. Aviators were styled as modern-day knights, doing individual combat with their enemies. Several pilots became famous for their air-to-air combat; the most well known is Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron, who shot down 80 planes in air-to-air combat with several planes. On the Allied side, René Paul Fonck is credited with the most all-time victories at 75, even when later wars are considered. France, Britain, Germany and Italy were the leading manufacturers of fighter planes that saw action during the war, with German aviation technologist Hugo Junkers paving the way for the future of much of the 20th-century aviation, through the pioneering of practical all-metal aircraft in late 1915. (museum-digital 100308 DE-MUS-911113/1825, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Interbellum

This is a picture of Amelia Earhart, perhaps the most famous of the people on the barnstorming/air show circuit. She was also the first female pilot to achieve records like crossing of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The years between World War I and World War II were marked by great advancements in aircraft technology. Airplanes evolved from low-powered biplanes made from wood and fabric to sleek, high-powered monoplanes made of aluminum, based primarily on the founding work of Hugo Junkers during the World War I period and its adoption by American designer William Bushnell Stout and Soviet designer Andrei Tupolev. The age of the great rigid airships came and went. The first successful rotorcraft appeared in the form of the autogyro, invented by the Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva, taking its first flight in 1919. In this design, the rotor is not powered but is spun like a windmill by its passage through the air. A separate engine is used to propel the aircraft forward. Meanwhile, in Germany, restricted by the Treaty of Versailles in its development of powered aircraft, ideveloped gliding as a sport instead, especially at the Wasserkuppe, during the 1920s. In its various forms, sailplane aviation now has over 400,000 participants. (IMAGNO brandstätter images GesmbH, 00642556, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Interbellum

This is a picture of Amelia Earhart, perhaps the most famous of the people on the barnstorming/air show circuit. She was also the first female pilot to achieve records like crossing of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The years between World War I and World War II were marked by great advancements in aircraft technology. Airplanes evolved from low-powered biplanes made from wood and fabric to sleek, high-powered monoplanes made of aluminum, based primarily on the founding work of Hugo Junkers during the World War I period and its adoption by American designer William Bushnell Stout and Soviet designer Andrei Tupolev. The age of the great rigid airships came and went. The first successful rotorcraft appeared in the form of the autogyro, invented by the Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva, taking its first flight in 1919. In this design, the rotor is not powered but is spun like a windmill by its passage through the air. A separate engine is used to propel the aircraft forward. Meanwhile, in Germany, restricted by the Treaty of Versailles in its development of powered aircraft, ideveloped gliding as a sport instead, especially at the Wasserkuppe, during the 1920s. In its various forms, sailplane aviation now has over 400,000 participants. (IMAGNO brandstätter images GesmbH, 00642556, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

World War II

The Second World War was marked by a great increase in the pace of development and production, not only of aircraft but also the associated flight-based weapon delivery systems. Air combat tactics and doctrines took advantage. Large-scale strategic bombing campaigns were launched and fighter escorts were introduced. A more flexible aircraft and weapons allowed precise attacks on small targets with dive bombers, fighter-bombers, and ground-attack aircraft. New technologies, like the invention of the radar also allowed more coordinated and controlled deployment of air defense. The first jet aircraft to fly was the Heinkel He 178 (Germany), by Erich Warsitz in 1939, followed by the world's first operational jet aircraft, the Me 262, in July 1942 and the world's first jet-powered bomber, the Arado Ar 234, in June 1943. British developments, like the Gloster Meteor, followed afterwards, but were only briefly used in World War II. The first cruise missile (V-1), the first ballistic missile (V-2), the first (and to date only) operational rocket-powered combat aircraft Me 163 — with attained velocities of up to 1,130 km/h (700 mph) in test flights — and the first vertical take-off manned point-defense interceptor, the Bachem Ba 349 Natter, were also developed by Germany. However, jet and rocket aircraft had only limited impact due to their late introduction, fuel shortages, the lack of experienced pilots and the declining war industry of Germany. Not only airplanes, but also helicopters rapidly developed in the Second World War, with the introduction of the Focke Achgelis Fa 223, the Flettner Fl 282 synchropter in 1941 in Germany and the Sikorsky R-4 in 1942 in the USA. (Royal Museums Greenwich, 13097 BHC1609 LD4310 D7554, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

World War II

The Second World War was marked by a great increase in the pace of development and production, not only of aircraft but also the associated flight-based weapon delivery systems. Air combat tactics and doctrines took advantage. Large-scale strategic bombing campaigns were launched and fighter escorts were introduced. A more flexible aircraft and weapons allowed precise attacks on small targets with dive bombers, fighter-bombers, and ground-attack aircraft. New technologies, like the invention of the radar also allowed more coordinated and controlled deployment of air defense. The first jet aircraft to fly was the Heinkel He 178 (Germany), by Erich Warsitz in 1939, followed by the world's first operational jet aircraft, the Me 262, in July 1942 and the world's first jet-powered bomber, the Arado Ar 234, in June 1943. British developments, like the Gloster Meteor, followed afterwards, but were only briefly used in World War II. The first cruise missile (V-1), the first ballistic missile (V-2), the first (and to date only) operational rocket-powered combat aircraft Me 163 — with attained velocities of up to 1,130 km/h (700 mph) in test flights — and the first vertical take-off manned point-defense interceptor, the Bachem Ba 349 Natter, were also developed by Germany. However, jet and rocket aircraft had only limited impact due to their late introduction, fuel shortages, the lack of experienced pilots and the declining war industry of Germany. Not only airplanes, but also helicopters rapidly developed in the Second World War, with the introduction of the Focke Achgelis Fa 223, the Flettner Fl 282 synchropter in 1941 in Germany and the Sikorsky R-4 in 1942 in the USA. (Royal Museums Greenwich, 13097 BHC1609 LD4310 D7554, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Cold War

After the Second World War, commercial aviation grew rapidly, using mostly ex-military aircraft to transport people and cargo. This growth was accelerated by the glut of heavy and super-heavy bomber airframes like the B-29 and Lancaster that could be converted into commercial aircraft. The DC-3 could also offer easier and longer commercial flights. The first commercial jet airliner to fly was the British de Havilland Comet. By 1952, the British state airline BOAC had introduced the Comet into scheduled service. This is a picture of the Boeing 707 model. (Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg1974.114, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Cold War

After the Second World War, commercial aviation grew rapidly, using mostly ex-military aircraft to transport people and cargo. This growth was accelerated by the glut of heavy and super-heavy bomber airframes like the B-29 and Lancaster that could be converted into commercial aircraft. The DC-3 could also offer easier and longer commercial flights. The first commercial jet airliner to fly was the British de Havilland Comet. By 1952, the British state airline BOAC had introduced the Comet into scheduled service. This is a picture of the Boeing 707 model. (Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg1974.114, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Digital age

During the last quarter of the 20th century, the emphasis of aviation shifted. No longer was revolutionary progress made in speed, distances and materials technology. Instead, a digital revolution took place in avionics, aircraft design and manufacturing techniques. In 1986 Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew an aircraft, the Rutan Voyager, around the world without refuelling or landing. In 1999 Bertrand Piccard became the first person to circle the earth in a balloon. Digital fly-by-wire systems allow an aircraft to be designed with a static stability. It was initially used to increase the manoeuvrability of military aircraft such as the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (see image), but is now being used to reduce drag on commercial airliners. (Flygvapenmuseum FVM147388, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)

Digital age

During the last quarter of the 20th century, the emphasis of aviation shifted. No longer was revolutionary progress made in speed, distances and materials technology. Instead, a digital revolution took place in avionics, aircraft design and manufacturing techniques. In 1986 Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew an aircraft, the Rutan Voyager, around the world without refuelling or landing. In 1999 Bertrand Piccard became the first person to circle the earth in a balloon. Digital fly-by-wire systems allow an aircraft to be designed with a static stability. It was initially used to increase the manoeuvrability of military aircraft such as the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (see image), but is now being used to reduce drag on commercial airliners. (Flygvapenmuseum FVM147388, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)