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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

PanAm Airbus A310-222
PanAm Airbus A310-222
Pan American World Airways, most commonly known as "Pan Am", was the principal international airline of the United States from the 1930s until its collapse in 1991. Originally founded as a seaplane service out of Key West, Florida, the airline became a major company; it was credited with many innovations that shaped the international airline industry, including the widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized reservation systems. Identified by its blue globe logo and the use of "Clipper" in aircraft names and call signs, the airline was a cultural icon of the 20th century, and the unofficial flag carrier of the United States. Pan Am went through two incarnations after 1991. The second Pan Am operated from 1996 to 1998 with a focus on low-cost, long-distance flights between the U.S. and the Caribbean. The current incarnation, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and known as the Pan Am "Clipper Connection", is operated by Boston-Maine Airways. The airline currently flies to destinations in the northeastern United States, Florida, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. (Full article...)

Selected image

An F/A-18 Hornet performs an automated aerial refueling operation on another. This was part of a study by the Dryden Flight Research Center to evaluate the ability of the F/A-18 as an in-flight refueling tanker to develop analytical models for an automated aerial refueling system for unmanned aerial vehicles. The project is documenting how an operational tanker's drogue basket responds when in the presence of the receiver aircraft.

Did you know

...that British Airways unveiled a new corporate identity in 1997 which involved repainting its fleet with around 20 daring tailfin designs by world artists? ...that Wing Commander Stanley Goble and Flying Officer Ivor McIntyre, piloting a single-engined seaplane (pictured), became the first men to circumnavigate Australia by air in 1924? Two pilots of No. 7 EFTS RAAF discuss the day's flying next to their Tiger Moth training biplanes. ... that No. 7 Elementary Flying Training School RAAF (aircraft of unit pictured) was the only Royal Australian Air Force training unit to be based in Tasmania during World War II?

Selected Aircraft

Me109 G-6 D-FMBB 1.jpg

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the early 1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as an all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. The Bf 109 was produced in greater quantities than any other fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Fighter production totalled 47% of all German aircraft production, and the Bf 109 accounted for 57% of all German fighter types produced.

The Bf 109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force in World War II, although it began to be partially replaced by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 from 1941. The Bf 109 was the most successful fighter of World War II, shooting down more aircraft than any of its contemporaries. Originally conceived as an interceptor, it was later developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter bomber, day-, night- all-weather fighter, bomber destroyer, ground-attack aircraft, and as reconnaissance aircraft.

The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of World War II: Erich Hartmann, the top scoring fighter pilot of all time with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories, and Günther Rall with 275 victories. All of them flew with Jagdgeschwader 52, a unit which exclusively flew the Bf 109 and was credited with over 10,000 victories, chiefly on the Eastern Front. Hartmann chose to fly the Bf 109 in combat throughout the war, despite being offered the use of the Me 262. Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest scoring German ace in the North African Campaign, also scored all of his 158 victories flying the Bf 109, against Western Allied pilots.

  • Span: 9.925 m (32 ft 6 in)
  • Length: 8.95 m (29 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 2.60 m (8 ft 2 in)
  • Engine: 1× Daimler-Benz DB 605A-1 liquid-cooled inverted V12, 1,475 PS (1,455 hp, 1,085 kW)
  • Cruising Speed: 590 km/h (365 mph) at 6,000 m (19,680 ft)
  • First Flight: 28 May 1935

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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

Today in Aviation

February 27

  • 2009 - A Polish Army Mil Mi-24 Hind Helicopter crashes in bad weather into a forest near Toru?, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Province, Poland. The aircraft from the 49 Regiment combat helicopters Pruszcz Gda?ski was on a night training flight for service in Afghanistan resulting in 2 crew injured and 1 fatality.
  • 2006 - Death of Robert Lee Scott Jr., Brigadier General in the United States Air Force. Scott is best known for his autobiography 'God is My Co-Pilot' about his exploits in WWII with the Flying Tigers and the United States Army Air Forces in China and Burma.
  • 2003 - A Canadian Forces Air Command Sikorsky CH-124B Sea King helicopter, 12401, of 12 Wing, crashes on the deck of HMCS Iroquois in the Persian Gulf. No one was killed, but the ship's mission in the Gulf was postponed.
  • 2002 - Ryanair Flight 296 catches fire in London Stansted Airport. Subsequent investigations criticize Ryanair's handling of the evacuation.
  • 1993 - The USAF begins supply drops into Bosnia
  • 1991 - An American OV-10D Bronco becomes the last Coalition aircraft lost in combat during the Gulf War.
  • 1987 - Royal Air Force Boeing Chinook HC.1 ZA721 crashed in the Falkland Islands, all seven on board killed.
  • 1980 - A China Air Lines Boeing 707 originating from Taipei crash landed in Manila, Philippines and was destroyed by fire. All 124 passengers and 11 crew members exited the plane and survived.
  • 1970 - Hawker Siddeley begins buying back surplus Hawker Hunters from the Royal Air Force to remanufacture for new customers.
  • 1969 - Beagle Aircraft Limited, British light aircraft manufacturer gets into voluntary liquidation.
  • 1961 - Max Conrad takes off from Miami in a PA-23 Aztec named New Frontiers (registration N4445P) for an Around-the-world record.
  • 1958 - In the Winter Hill air disaster, a Silver City Airways Bristol 170 Freighter travelling from the Isle of Man to Manchester Ringway Airport crashes into Winter Hill, Lancashire, killing 35 people and injuring seven.
  • 1945 - First flight of the Curtiss XF15C, a US mixed-propulsion (propellor and turbojet engines) fighter prototype.
  • 1945 - Off Iwo Jima, the U. S. Navy tank landing ship USS LST-776, specially equipped with booms and cables for launching light aircraft, achieves the first successful launch of a Piper OY-1 Cub observation plane.
  • 1943 - USAAF bomber aircraft made their first raid on Germany.
  • 1942 - The aircraft tender USS Langley (AV-3), which once had been the U. S. Navy's first aircraft carrier as USS Langley (CV-1), is sunk by Japanese aircraft in the Indian Ocean while trying to deliver Curtiss P-40 fighters from Australia to Java.
  • 1938 - 6 USAAC B-17 Flying Fortresses lands after a goodwill tour of Latin America, traveling 12,000 miles (19,312 km) to Lima, Buenos Aires, Santiago and back.
  • 1936 - During the Second Battle of Tembien, Italian aircraft drop 200 tons (181,439 kg) of high-explosive bombs on forming-up areas for Ethiopian troops and kill many Ethiopians fleeing the battlefield as they ford the Takkaze River.
  • 1935 - Latècoère's giant seaplane Santos Dumont lands with a cargo of mail after a record flight of 53 hours 4 min from Natal, Brazil to Paris, with two stops en route.
  • 1928 - Commander Theodore Gordon Ellyson, the first Naval Aviator, Lieutenant Commander Hugo Schmidt and Lieutenant Rogers Ransehounsen, crash to their deaths in the sole Loening XOL-7 amphibian, A7335, (an OL-6 modified with an experimental thicker wing), in the lower Chesapeake Bay while on a night flight from Norfolk, Virginia, to Annapolis, Maryland. The Navy searches for the lost aircraft for a month without success. On 11 March the office of the Secretary of the Navy cables Helen Ellyson, "Very reluctantly yesterday the Secretary came to the conclusion that it was necessary for us to declare the officers who were lost in the plane with your husband officially dead. We had hoped against hope that something might be found of those officers living but it does not seem now that there is any hope left." On 11 April, Ellyson's body washed ashore in the lower Chesapeake Bay.
  • 1924 - Death of Hans Georg Friedrich Groß, German balloonist and airship constructor.
  • 1921 - Birth of Theodore Van Kirk, American navigator of the Enola Gay when it dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
  • 1920 - Piloting a United States Army Air Service Packard-Le Peré LUSAC-11 fighter equipped with one of the first turbochargers, Major Rudolf Schroeder sets a new world altitude record of 10,099 m (33,113 feet). His oxygen system fails and he passes out; he regains consciousness only very near the ground and lands safely, but is hospitalized.
  • 1918 - Birth of Harold Brownlow Morgan "Micky" Martin, Australian WWII bomber pilot (who flew with the 'Dambusters' 617 Squadron) and RAF post-war High-ranking officer.
  • 1917 - The first military flying in Canada took place when the RFC Canada began training with three Curtiss JN-4 aircraft at Long Beach Aerodrome near Toronto.
  • 1916 - Birth of Giuseppe Cenni, Italian Spanish war and WWII pilot
  • 1910 - Birth of Clarence Leonard "Kelly" Johnson, American aircraft engineer and aeronautical innovator, member of the Lockheed Skunk Works. While at Lockheed, Johnson designed the P-38 Lightning fighter, made Fowler flaps work on the Model 14 Super Electra, and played a major role in converting the type into the Royal Air Force's Lockheed Hudson on short notice in 1938. He worked on the development of the Constellation for Howard Hughes' TWA airline.
  • 1906 - Death of Samuel Pierpont Langley, American astronomer, physicist, inventor of the bolometer and pioneer of aviation.
  • 1898 - Birth of Maryse Bastié, French aviatrix. Born Marie-Louise Bombec. Aerobatic, raid and record Pilot.
  • 1890 - Birth of Arthur Roy 'Art' Smith, early American aviator, aircraft designer who also perfected the art of night time sky writing, WWI Instructor, and Airmail pilot.
  • 1887 - Birth of Pyotr Nikolayevich Nesterov, Russian WWI pilot, aircraft technical designer and aerobatics pioneer.1
  • 1885 - Birth of Theodore Gordon 'Spuds' Ellyson, USN pilot, first United States Navy officer designated as an aviator ("Naval Aviator No. 1").


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