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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

BAE Systems' headquarters
BAE Systems' headquarters
BAE Systems is a British defence and aerospace company headquartered at Farnborough, UK, which has worldwide interests, particularly in North America through its subsidiary BAE Systems Inc. BAE is the world's third-largest defence contractor and the largest in Europe. BAE was formed on 30 November 1999 by the £7.7 billion merger of two British companies: Marconi Electronic Systems, the defence electronics and naval shipbuilding subsidiary of the General Electric Company plc (GEC) and aircraft, munitions and naval systems manufacturer British Aerospace (BAe). It has increasingly disengaged from its businesses in continental Europe in favour of investing in the United States. Since its formation it has sold its shares of Airbus, EADS Astrium, AMS and Atlas Elektronik. BAE Systems is involved in several major defence projects, including the F-35 Lightning II, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The company has been the subject of criticism, both general opposition to the arms trade and also specific allegations of unethical and corrupt practices, including the Al-Yamama contracts with Saudi Arabia that have earned BAE and its predecessor £43 billion in twenty years. (Full article...)

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Airplane vortex edit.jpg
Credit: NASA Langley Research Center
Coloured smoke reveals a vortex of air created by the wing of an airplane, also known as wake turbulence or jetwash. This turbulence can be especially hazardous during the landing and take off phases of flight, where an aircraft's proximity to the ground makes a timely recovery from turbulence-induced problems unlikely.

Did you know

...that four planes were simultaneously hijacked in the 1970 Dawson's Field hijackings? ...that the Ryan X-13 Vertijet aircraft landed by using a hook on its nose to hang itself on a wire? ... 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

An A400M flying

The Airbus A400M is a four-engine turboprop aircraft, designed by Airbus Military to meet the demand of European nations for military airlift. Since its formal launch the aircraft has also been ordered by South Africa, Chile and Malaysia.

The A400M will begin assembly in the Seville plant of EADS Spain (part of Airbus Military) in October 2006. The first test flight occurred in December 2009.

  • Span: 42.4 m (139 ft 1 in)
  • Length: 45.1 m (148 ft)
  • Height: 14.7 m (48 ft 3 in)
  • Engines: 4 EPI TP400-D6 (8,250 kW power)
  • Cruising Speed: 780 km/h (480 mph, 420 knots)
  • First Flight: 11 December 2009
  • Number built: 4 (174 on order)

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Selected biography

Orville Wright
Wilbur Wright

The Wright brothers, Orville Wright (August 19, 1871 - January 30, 1948) and Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867 - May 30, 1912), are generally credited with making the first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air flight on December 17, 1903. In the two years afterward, they developed their flying machine into the world's first practical airplane, along with many other aviation milestones.

In 1878 Wilbur and Orville were given a toy "helicopter" by their father. The device was made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl its twin blades, and about a foot long. The boys played with it until it broke, then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying.

In the news

Today in Aviation

February 26

  • 2013 - A fire starts aboard the Ultramagic N-425 hot-air balloon SU-283 while it is attempting to land near Luxor, Egypt, carrying 19 tourists, a tour guide, and its pilot. The pilot and one tourist leap from the balloon and suffer serious injuries before the balloon, with the other 19 people still aboard, rises rapidly to an altitude of about 300 meters (984 feet), experiences an explosion heard several kilometers away, collapses, crashes to the ground, and suffers another explosion. The 19 people still aboard, seven of whom jump to their deaths to escape the fire, are killed.[1] It is the deadliest hot-air balloon accident in history, exceeding the death toll in a 1989 accident in Australia.
  • 2010 - The Twitter account of United Airlines gets hacked and begins posting links to "male-enhancement" pills.
  • 2007 - United Airlines Flight 955, a Boeing 777-222, was on a scheduled flight from London Heathrow Airport to San Francisco. It had just pushed back from the gate at London Heathrow Airport and started its right engine when an electrical contactor failed, spraying molten metal on a polyethylene terphthalate covered insulation blanket and igniting it. The crew shut down the engine and the fire was successfully contained without injuries to the 205 aboard.
  • 2005 - Continental begins codesharing with Air France
  • 2004 - Macedonia Government Beechcraft 200 Super King Air, Z3-BAB, c/n BB-652, crashes into mountains while attempting to land in poor weather at Mostar International Airport, Bosnia - Herzegovina . All 9 aboard killed including Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski. Pilot error. The two-man crew misinterpreted crucial flight data in stormy weather.
  • 1981 - A variable-angle ski jump (7-15°), of the type fitted to the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers, becomes operational at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset.
  • 1973 - A private Learjet 24 crashed shortly after take-off from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee, Georgia, United States. The aircraft, registration N454RN, owned by a private corporation, struck birds shortly after lifting off. Air traffic control advised the flight crew of smoke trailing from their left engine; the crew said they would not be able to return to the airport. The aircraft impacted the roof of an apartment building and came to rest in a ravine. All five passengers and two crew members aboard the aircraft were killed; a person in the apartment building suffered severe burns.
  • 1971 - Death of Yves Felix Barbaza, French WWI flying ace
  • 1971 - First flight of the Saab Safari, also known as the Saab MFI-17 Supporter, Swedish prop-powered basic trainer aircraft used by several air forces.
  • 1971 - A Luftwaffe Lockheed F-104G Starfighter, 22+64, c/n 7145, of Detachment Deci, crashes during a gunnery training flight on the Fransca range over the Italian island of Sardinia after its pilot parachutes to safety, the defense ministry said, making it the 128th crash of the type since entering German service in 1961. Engine failure due to FOD.
  • 1966 - Launch: Saturn IB rocket, launching AS-201, test flight for the Apollo program
  • 1966 - Death of Richard Bell Davies VC, CB, DSO, AFC, British WWI fighter pilot and Royal Navy officer.
  • 1965 - USAF Boeing B-47E-25-DT Stratojet, 52-0171, collides with KC-135A-BN Stratotanker, 63-8882, during midair refuelling 410 mi. SSE of Harmon Air Base, Newfoundland, both aircraft lost.
  • 1962 - Death of Riccardo Moizo, Italian military pilot durin WWI and high-ranking officer in WWII
  • 1960 - An Alitalia DC-7 C crashed at Shannon Airport, Ireland, shortly after takeoff.
  • 1958 - Birth of Susan Jane Helms, Lieutenant General in the US Air Force and NASA astronaut
  • 1958 - Death of William Charles Campbell, Scottish WWI fighter ace, notable balloon buster and instructor.
  • 1958 - The RCAF accepted the first Avro CF-105 Arrow.
  • 1954 - Piedmont Airlines carries its one millionth passenger after 6 years of scheduled service.
  • 1946 - Finnish observers report the first of many thousands of sightings of ghost rockets.
  • 1945 - A B-24 Liberator carrying General Millard Fillmore Harmon Jr., and Brigadier General James R. Andersen disappeared the next day after taking off for Hawaii. The aircraft was never found and there were no survivors.
  • 1945 - Beautiful Betsy was the name of an American Liberator Bomber. The wreckage of the plane was discovered in what is now Kroombit Tops National Park, located in The Boyne Valley in central Queensland, Australia. The Beautiful Betsy had suffered combat fatigue and was only being used for short supply runs. It had been retired from combat. Its final mission was a Fat Cat run from Darwin to Brisbane - Transporting men and supplies as part of a regular flight. It disappeared in stormy weather.
  • 1944 - Death of Charles de Lambert, early French aviator, first person in France to be taught to fly by Wilbur Wright and first person to fly around the Eiffel tower.
  • 1943 - German night fighter ace Ludwig Becker is shot down and killed over the North Sea during a daytime mission against U. S. Army Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, the third of three top German night aces to die during the month. Like Reinhold Knacke and Paul Gildner, his night score stands at 44 when he dies; he is credited with 46 kills overall. The three men had been the second-, third-, and fourth-ranking German night aces.
  • 1942 - The luxurious Boeing Stratoliners are stripped of their civilian finery and pressed into military service as C-75 s. The first flights carry antitank ammunition and medical supplies to British forces in Libya.
  • 1942 - (Overnight) 49 British bombers attack Kiel, Germany, with the loss of three aircraft. They score two hits on the German battlecruiser Gneisenau, killing 116 of her crew and damaging her so badly that she never is seaworthy again.
  • 1941 - A Douglas DC-3 airliner operating as Eastern Airlines Flight 21 crashes outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Among the eight dead is Maryland Congressman William D. Byron. Eight people survive, including the U. S. top-scoring ace of World War I and Eastern Airlines president Eddie Rickenbacker, who is gravely injured but eventually recovers.
  • 1941 - Philippine Airlines is founded, making it Asia's first and oldest carrier, still to this day operating under its original name.
  • 1940 - The US Air Defense Command is formed at Mitchell Field, New York.
  • 1937 - First flight of the Fiat G.50 ("Arrow"), a WWII Italian fighter aircraft. Italy's first single-seat, all-metal monoplane with an enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear to go into production.
  • 1935 - Adolf Hitler orders the Luftwaffe to be re-formed, violating the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • 1935 - Robert Watson-Watt carries out a demonstration near Daventry which leads directly to the development of RADAR in the United Kingdom.
  • 1935 - In Germany, Adolf Hitler orders Hermann Göring to secretly establish the Luftwaffe, violating the provision of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 that Germany never again possess armed aircraft.
  • 1931 - French Lucien Bossoutrot and Maurice Rossi takes off in the Blériot Bl-110 'Joseph Le Brix' for a world distance record on closed circuit
  • 1928 - Birth of Anatoly Vasilyevich Filipchenko, Soviet cosmonaut
  • 1928 - First flight of the BFW M.20 (also known as the Messerschmitt M 20 after the designer), a German single-engine, high-wing monoplane 10-seat passenger transport aircraft, but was lost when pilot Hans Hackmack bailed out at low altitude and was killed after the surface stripped from part of the wing.
  • 1926 - Death of Geoffrey William Hemming, British WWI flying ace, in a flying accident with a Fairey III. D at RAF Calshot.
  • 1922 - Death of Léon Levavasseur, French powerplant engineer, aircraft designer and inventor. His innovations included the V8 engine, direct fuel injection, and evaporative engine cooling.
  • 1918 - Death of Giuseppe Ghislanzoni WWI Italian pilot
  • 1906 - Birth of Hans Bertram, German aviator, film-maker and author. During the late 1920s, he assisted in organising the Republic of China naval air service. Bertram twice visited Australia: firstly in 1932, when he was rescued following a forced landing during an around the world flight and secondly, during 1941-45, as a prisoner of war.
  • 1896 - Birth of Saint Cyprian Churchill Tayler, British WWI flying ace
  • 1894 - Birth of Wilhelm Bittrich, German WWI Fighter pilot, SS-Obergruppenführer and Waffen-SS General during WWII.
  • 1893 - Birth of Otto Kissenberth, German WWI fighter ace
  • 1890 - Birth of Chauncey Milton Vought, American aviation pioneer and engineer.
  • 1888 - Birth of Mario Castoldi, Italian aircraft engineer and designer.
  • 1873 - Birth of Johann Heinrich Karl "Jan" Schütte, German early Dirigible Airship designer.


  1. ^ "BBC News - Balloon crashes near Luxor killing 19 tourists". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-01-15. Retrieved .

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