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

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.

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A Ryanair Boeing 737 on the landing roll at Bristol Airport
Ryanair is an airline based in Ireland. It is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, operating 209 low-fare routes to 94 destinations across 17 European countries. Over the years it has evolved into the world's most profitable airline, running at remarkable margins by relentlessly driving costs down. Ryanair has been characterised by rapid and continuing expansion, enabled by the deregulation of the air industry in Europe in 1997. It operates a fleet of 74 Boeing 737s, and currently has firm orders for an additional 225 Boeing 737-800 airplanes by 2010, with options on a further 193. Ryanair is one of Europe's most controversial companies, praised and criticised in equal measure. Its supporters praise its commitment to exceptionally low fares, its radical management, its populism, and its willingness to challenge what Ryanair calls the 'establishment' within the airline industry. Critics, meanwhile, have attacked its labor union policies, and have charged that it practises deceptive advertising.

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Did you know

...that four planes were simultaneously hijacked in the 1970 Dawson's Field hijackings? ...that passengers aboard JetBlue Airways Flight 292 were able to watch their own malfunctioning aircraft circle Los Angeles International Airport on the satellite television screens at each seat until the flight crew disabled the system in preparation for the aircraft's successful emergency landing? ... that Walter Borchers was one of three brothers, all three received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II?

Selected Aircraft

Douglas Dakota DC-3 (G-ANAF) of the Air Atlantique Historic Flight.

The Douglas DC-3 is a fixed-wing, propeller-driven aircraft which revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s, and is generally regarded as one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made.

The DC-3 was engineered by a team led by chief engineer Arthur E. Raymond and first flew on December 17, 1935 (the 32nd. anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk). The plane was the result of a marathon phone call from American Airlines CEO C.R. Smith demanding improvements in the design of the DC-2. The amenities of the DC-3 (including sleeping berths on early models and an in-flight kitchen) popularized air travel in the United States. With just one refuelling stop, transcontinental flights across America became possible. Before the DC-3, such a trip would entail short hops in commuter aircraft during the day coupled with train travel overnight.

During World War II, many civilian DC-3s were drafted for the war effort and thousands of military versions of the DC-3 were built under the designations C-47, C-53, R4D, and Dakota. The armed forces of many countries used the DC-3 and its military variants for the transport of troops, cargo and wounded. Over 10,000 aircraft were produced (some as licensed copies in Japan as Showa L2D, and in the USSR as the Lisunov Li-2).

  • Span: 95 ft (28.96 m)
  • Length: 64 ft 5 in (19.65 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 11 in (5.16 m)
  • Engines: 2× Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S1C3G 14-cylinder radial engines, 1,200 hp (895 kW) or Wright Cyclone
  • Cruising Speed: 170 mph (274 km/h)
  • First Flight:December 17, 1935
  • Number built: 13,140 (including license built types)

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Selected biography

Portrait of Flynn taken in 1929.

The Reverend John Flynn (25 November 1880 – 5 May 1951) was an Australian Presbyterian minister and aviator who founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the world's first air ambulance.

Throughout his ministerial training, Flynn had worked in various then-remote areas through Victoria and South Australia. As well as tending to matters spiritual, Flynn quickly established the need for medical care for residents of the vast Australian outback, and established a number of bush hospitals. By 1917, Flynn was already considering the possibility of new technology, such as radio and the aeroplane, to assist in providing a more useful acute medical service, and then received a letter from an Australian pilot serving in World War I, Clifford Peel, who had heard of Flynn's speculations and outlined the capabilities and costs of then-available planes. Flynn turned his considerable fund-raising talents to the task of establishing a flying medical service.

The first flight of the Aerial Medical Service was in 1928 from Cloncurry. In 1934 the Australian Aerial Medical Service was formed, and gradually established a network of bases nationwide. Flynn remained the public face of the organisation (through name changes to its present form) and helped raise the funds that kept the service operating.

In the news

Today in Aviation

August 10

  • 2010 - Alaska Turbo Otter crash: A de Havilland Canada DHC-3 T Turbo Otter crashes near Aleknagik, United States killing former Senator Ted Stevens. Former NASA Administrator and current EADS North America CEO Sean O'Keefe is amongst the survivors.
  • 2006 - British authorities announce that a plot to simultaneously denonate bombs smuggled in hand luggage aboard ten airliners bound for the United States over the Atlantic Ocean has been foiled. Tightened security measures in the United Kingdom and United States and flight cancellations which happen afterwards cause severe chaos at several London airports.
  • 2001 - Launch: Space Shuttle Discovery STS-105 at 21:10:14 UTC. Mission highlights: ISS supply, crew rotation.
  • 1999 - A Pakistan Navy Breguet Atlantic, believed to be serialled '91', c/n 33, of 29 Squadron, is shot down by two Indian Air Force MiG-21 jets, citing airspace violation. Dubbed the Atlantique incident, it raises tensions between India and Pakistan.
  • 1993 - An McDonnell-Douglas AV-8B-8 Harrier II, BuNo 162955, c/n 512083/77, of VMA-231, crashed on the runway at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina as the pilot was doing "touch and go" landings. The plane's flaps jammed when moisture got into the flap controller causing it to short out. The pilot, Captain William P. Delaney ejected before the plane hit the runway however his parachute descended into the fireball killing him.
  • 1990 - Prime Minister Mulroney announced that Navy ships, HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Terra Nova, and HMCS Protecteur accompanied by five Sea King helicopters from 423 Squadron, would deploy to the Persian Gulf.
  • 1965 - A fire in a Martin LGM-25C Titan II missile silo at Searcy, Arkansas kills 53 men, all of them civilians, in the worst accident in "U.S. space age defense" when a diesel generator catches fire, smothering the victims. The missile, fully loaded with liquid fuel, did not burn. Its nuclear warhead had been removed while the civilian workmen updated the physical plant of the complex. Two civilians were able to flee the fire area through an underground tunnel to the access rooms and launch center. "The fire probably burned less than an hour", said Capt. Douglas Wood, Public Information Officer for Little Rock Air Force Base, which commands the 18 Titan II silos ringing Central Arkansas, "but up to 12 hours later smoke was still billowing in the silo."
  • 1965 - A Virginia Air Guard Cessna L-19 Bird Dog crashes at Camp Pickett, Virginia, while flying a support mission for forces in summer field training, killing the crew. Pilot Capt. Laurence A. White and S/Sgt. Melvin D. Mangum, both of the Richmond Howitzers, are KWF when the liaison aircraft comes down near the Nottoway River reservoir.
  • 1959 - A Royal Canadian Air Force Canadair F-86 Sabre of the Golden Hawks aerobatic team overshot when landing at McCall Airfield, Alberta, with the rest of the team and collided with a Piper Pacer about 2 miles (3.2 km) W of the field. Pilot of the Sabre and two occupants of the Pacer were killed.
  • 1955 - Two United States Air Force Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar transports of the 10th Troop Carrier Squadron, 60th Troop Carrier Group, collide over Edelweiler, Germany, near Stuttgart, shortly after takeoff for training mission from Stuttgart Army Airfield near Echterdingen. C-119G, 53-3222, c/n 11238, piloted by Robert T. Asher, and C-119G, 53-7841, c/n 11258, piloted by Eugene L. Pesci, both crash. In all, 66 died, 44 on one Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, and 22 on the other. Troops aboard were of the Army's 499th Engineering Battalion.
  • 1947 - A new world airspeed record of 640 mph (1,031 km/h) is set in the Douglas Skystreak during a flight on 20 August 1947.
  • 1945 - Task Force 38 aircraft again strike northern Honshu heavily, striking two previously undetected Japanese airfields.
  • 1945 - After suffering heavy damage during the airstrikes of July 24, 28, and 29, the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaiyo is abandoned in Beppu Bay when she lists far enough for the port side of her flight deck to be underwater. She later will be scrapped in place.
  • 1944 - Saipan-based U. S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberators of the Seventh Air Force conduct the first bombing raid against Iwo Jima, the first of 10 air raids on Iwo Jima during August.
  • 1944 - U. S. Army Air Forces B-29 Superfortresses carry out raids against Palembang on Sumatra and Nagasaki, Japan. The Palembang raid is the longest carried out by the 20th Air Force during World War II, requiring a round trip of 4,030 miles (6,490 km) between a staging base on Ceylon and the target. The Nagasaki raid employs the heaviest B-29 bomb loads to date--6,000 lbs (2,722 kg) per bomber--and results in the 20th Air Force's first air-to-air kill, a Japanese fighter shot down by B-29 gunner Technical Sergeant H. C. Edwards.
  • 1943 - Reinforced by 250 Imperial Japanese Army aircraft from Rabaul, Japanese air forces in New Guinea are ordered to conduct an air offensive against Allied airfields on New Guinea and Allied convoys along the Papuan coast.
  • 1936 - A Nationalist ground column under Colonel Juan Yagüe y Blanco captures Mérida, Spain, after advancing 200 miles (322 km) in less than a week. Nine German Junkers Ju 52 s and eight Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 s have given the column local air superiority, while a civilian aeroclub from Seville has provided aerial reconnaissance and in one instance forced Republican militiamen to abandon their positions by dropping melons on them.
  • 1922 - The Schneider Trophy race is flown at Naples, Italy. It is won by the only non-Italian competitor, H. C. Biard in a British Supermarine Sea Lion II, with a winning speed of 234.5 km/h (145.7 mph).
  • 1921 - The United States Department of the Navy establishes the Bureau of Aeronautics to oversee all matters relating to naval aircraft, personnel, and operations. United States Marine Corps aviation remains under a separate command, the Director of Aviation at Headquarters Marine Corps.
  • 1918 - Lt. Erich Loewenhardt, third-highest-scoring German ace of the Great War, is KWF when the wheels of a Fokker D.VII flown by Lt. Alfred Wentz of Jasta 11 (also spelt Wenz in some sources) collide with the wing of his own Fokker D.VII, causing it to crash. He bails out but his chute fails to open. Lowenhardt, posted to JG.1, and flying with Jasta 10 from July 1917, scored 53 victories before his death. Wentz successfully bails out of his stricken fighter.
  • 1912 - Englishman Francis K. McClean becomes the first pilot to fly under bridges spanning the Thames River when he takes off from Harty Ferry, Eastchurch in his Short biplane S. 33.
  • 1910 - Claude Grahame-White attempts to fly the first airmail in the world to be carried on a powered airplane when he takes off from Squires Gate near Blackpool, England heading for Southport. The attempt in his little Blériot monoplane fails and he is forced to land.
  • 1840 - American Louis Lauriat, whose balloon flies at 21 mph in New Brunswick, makes the first manned balloon flight in Canada.


  1. ^ Kim Gamel (2007-08-10). "U.S. Copter Forced Down South of Baghdad". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved .

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