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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.

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A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. Due to the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the term zeppelin in casual use came to refer to all rigid airships. The German defeat in World War I halted the business temporarily, but under the guidance of Hugo Eckener, the successor of the deceased count, civilian Zeppelins experienced a renaissance in the 1920s. They reached their zenith in the 1930s, when the airships LZ127 "Graf Zeppelin" and LZ129 "Hindenburg" profitably operated regular transatlantic passenger flights. The Hindenburg disaster in 1937 triggered the fall of the "giants of the air", though other factors, including political issues, contributed to the demise.

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Did you know

...that in the late 1940s the USAF Northrop YB-49 set both an unofficial endurance record and a transcontinental speed record? ..that Elm Farm Ollie in 1930 became the first cow to be milked while flying in an airplane? .. that five UH-1 Iroquois helicopters of the Experimental Military Unit were shot down by a single Viet Cong soldier armed with an AK-47 rifle?

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Dash 8 300 landing at Bristol (UK)

The de Havilland Canada DHC-8, popularly the Dash 8, is a series of twin-turboprop airliners designed by de Havilland Canada in the early 1980s. They are now made by Bombardier Aerospace which purchased DHC from Boeing in 1992. Since 1996 the aircraft have been known as the Q Series, for "quiet", due to installation of the Active Noise and Vibration Suppression (ANVS) system designed to reduce cabin noise and vibration levels to near those of jet airliners.

Notable features of the Dash 8 design are the large T-tail intended to keep the tail free of propwash during takeoff, a very high aspect ratio wing, the elongated engine nacelles also holding the rearward-folding landing gear, and the pointed nose profile. First flight was in 1983, and the plane entered service in 1984 with NorOntair. Piedmont Airlines (formerly Henson Airlines) was the US launch customer for the Dash 8 in 1984.

The Dash 8 design had better cruise performance than the earlier Dash 7, was less expensive to operate, and more notably, much less expensive to maintain. The Dash 8 had the lowest costs per passenger mile of any feederliner of the era. The only disadvantage compared to the earlier Dash 7 was somewhat higher noise levels, but only in comparison as the Dash 7 was notable in the industry for extremely low noise due to its four very large and slow-turning propellers.

  • Length: 107 ft 9 in (32.84 m)
  • Wingspan: 93 ft 3 in (32.84 m)
  • Height: 27 ft 5 in (8.34 m)
  • Powerplant: 2× Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A turboprops, 5,071 shp (3,781 kW) each
  • Cruise speed: 360 knots (414 mph, 667 km/h)
  • Maiden Flight: June 20, 1983

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Selected biography

Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan (born June 17, 1943 in Estacada, Oregon) is an American aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft. He is most famous for his design of the record-breaking Voyager, which was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the suborbital rocket plane SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004.

In the news

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Today in Aviation

October 15

  • 2009 – An Antonov An-28 of Blue Wing Airlines departs the runway on landing at Kwamelasemoetoe Airstrip, Suriname, and hits an obstacle. The aircraft is substantially damaged and four people are injured, one seriously.
  • 2009 – A United States Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 50D Fighting Falcon, 91-0365, is lost while flying on a routine night flying exercise from the 77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, based at the Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, South Carolina when it collides mid-air with F-16C Block 50D Fighting Falcon, 91-0364. The two aircraft from the 20th Fighter Wing were training with night vision equipment and practicing combat tactics when the accident occurred 40 miles (64 km) east of Folly Beach, South Carolina at ~2030 hrs. The United States Coast Guard commenced a search for a missing aircraft in the North Atlantic of the coast of South Carolina while the second aircraft, piloted by Capt. Lee Bryant, despite damage was able to land at Charleston Air Force Base. on 16 October, Coast Guard searchers found crash debris in the Atlantic Ocean believed to belong to the missing F-16. "The Coast Guard has found some debris in the ocean that is apparently from our missing F-16", said Robert Sexton, the Shaw Air Force Base Public Affairs chief in Sumter, South Carolina The other pilot, Capt. Nicholas Giglio, is missing. "They have not yet found any sign of the pilot and the search continues", Mr. Sexton said. No one witnessed what happened to Captain Giglio after the collision.
  • 2007 – Airbus delivers its first A380 superjumbo jet, to Singapore Airlines.
  • 2003 – China launches Shenzhou 5, its first manned space mission.
  • 2001 – NASA’s Galileo spacecraft passes within 112 miles of Jupiter’s moon Io.
  • 1997 – The Cassini probe, built primarily to explore the rings and moons of Saturn, is launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a US Air Force Titan IV/Centaur rocket. Twelve years later, spacecraft continues its mission.
  • 1989 – A U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-16D Block 32F Fighting Falcon, 87-0369, c/n 5D-63, from Luke AFB, Arizona, crashed in the middle of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress parking ramp at Carswell AFB, Texas, during a simulated airfield attack for an Operational Readiness Inspection for the 301st Tactical Fighter Wing (AFRES). The two pilots aboard the F-16D were both killed. Three B-52H aircraft parked nearby suffered minor damage.
  • 1970 – The first successful aircraft hijacking in the Soviet Union takes place, when the Lithuanian nationalist Pranas Brazinskas and his son Algirdas seize Aeroflot Flight 244, an Antonov An-24, over the Soviet Union, after a shoot-out on board with guards in which a flight attendant is killed and several other crew members are wounded. The hijackers force the plane to fly to Trabzon, Turkey, where they surrender to Turkish authorities.
  • 1962 – Commencment of Operation Rho Delta, with RCAF Hercules freighting CF-104 s to the Air Division from Canadair.
  • 1962 – Eighty two days after the failure of the Bluegill Prime test in Operation Fishbowl, under Operation Dominic, a third attempt is made, Bluegill Double Prime. Launched from rebuilt facilities on Johnston Island, damaged in the last attempt, at ~2330 hrs., local time (16 October UTC), the SM-75 Thor missile, 58-2267, vehicle number 156, malfunctions and begins tumbling out of control about 85 seconds after liftoff, and the range safety officer orders the destruction of the missile and its nuclear warhead about 95 seconds after launch. Although, by definition, this qualifies as a Broken Arrow incident, this test is rarely included in lists of such mishaps.
  • 1959 – A USAF Boeing B-52F-100-BO Stratofortress, 57-036, collides with Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker, 57-1513, over Hardinsberg, Kentucky, crashes with two nuclear weapons on board, killing four of eight on the bomber and all four tanker crew. One bomb partially burned in fire, but both are recovered intact. Bombs moved to the AEC's Clarksville, Tennessee storage site for inspection and dismantlement. Both aircraft deployed from Columbus AFB, Mississippi.
  • 1958 – A USAF Fairchild C-123 Provider, en route from Dobbins AFB, Georgia, to Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York, runs out of fuel, comes down on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island while attempting emergency landing at Zahn's Airport at North Amityville, one-half mile short, injuring five, and killing one motorist. The transport skids several hundred feet, passes through an underpass, and strikes three cars. Harold J. Schneider, West Islip, New York, dies of head injuries shortly after the accident. Three Air Force men and two women motorists suffer minor injuries. They are identified as Mrs. Mary Rehm, Islip Terrace, and Mrs. Frank Calabrese, West Islip. The injured Air Force men are identified as Capt. John Florio, Sgt. Wallett A. Carman and Sgt. Edgar H. Williamson. The pilot was Lt. Gary L. Moolson. The aircraft, with a 119 foot wingspan, passed through a 50-foot wide underpass, shearing both outer wings, the port engine, and the vertical fin, before coming to a stop on fire.
  • 1955 – A Lockheed T-33A-1-LO Shooting Star trainer, 51-9227, crashes into Santa Monica Bay. Pilot Richard Martin Theiler, 28, and co-pilot Paul Dale Smith departed Los Angeles International Airport at 0215 PST aboard the T-33A, bound for Yuma, Arizona. This was an IFR departure, with instructions to report 2,000 feet (610 m) on top of overcast. The Los Angeles weather at the time was 1,200 feet (370 m) overcast, 4 miles (6.4 km) visibility, in haze and smoke. After they were given clearance for takeoff they were never seen nor heard from again. Plane was found in 2009 by aviation archaeologist G. Pat Macha and a group of volunteers, in 100 feet of water.
  • 1952 – First flight of the Douglas X-3 Stiletto (knife-like shape). The X-3 was built to test the effects of high temperatures induced by high speeds on an aircraft.
  • 1951 – RCAF Ground Observer Corps was formed.
  • 1951 – Convair B-36D-35-CF Peacemaker, 49-2664, c/n 127, '664', triangle 'J' tail markings, of the 436th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing, Carswell AFB, Texas, experiences main gear extension failure, pilot Maj. Leslie W. Brockwell bellies it in at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, with just the nose gear extended, doing such a deft job that this is the only B-36 ever crashlanded that was returned to flight.
  • 1950 – First Technical Training Unit was formed in the RCAF Auxiliary at Vancouver. Over the next three years, eight additional units would be formed.
  • 1947 – Second prototype Westland Wyvern TF Mk. 1, (N.11/44), TS375, powered by Rolls-Royce Eagle, crashes during attempted forced landing at RAE Farnborough after its propeller stopped, killing Westland test pilot Squadron Leader Peter J. Garner, late of the RAF. Aircraft was to rendezvous for air-to-air photography for Flight's renowned photographer John Yoxall, but before photo shoot can take place, a bearing fails and both contra-props stop, pilot unable to round-off properly from steep dive due to immense drag of eight stopped blades, drops heavily into the intended field, breaks into pieces, pilot unconscious, airframe burns almost completely.
  • 1946 – Hermann Göring commits suicide by poisoning himself in his jail cell at Nuremberg, Germany, the day before his scheduled hanging for war crimes. A World War I ace with 22 victories and one of the leaders of the German Nazi movement and government, he had served as Supreme Commander of the German Luftwaffe from 1935 to 1945.
  • 1945 – Nos. 423 and 433 (Bomber) Squadrons were disbanded.
  • 1942 – No. 426 (Bomber) Squadron was formed in England.
  • 1942 – Douglas C-49E-DO Skytrain, 42-43619, DST-114, c/n 1494, first DC-3, ex-American Airlines Douglas Sleeper Transport NC14988, A115 "Texas", first flown as X14988 on 17 December 1935; sold to TWA, 14 March 1942, as line number 361; commandeered by USAAF, 31 March 1942; assigned to the 24th Troop Carrier Squadron, crashed this date in bad weather at Knobnoster, Missouri.[153][154] Another source gives crash location as 2.5 mi SW of Chicago Municipal Airport, Illinois.
  • 1939 – New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia dedicates an airport in Flushing bearing his name. La Guardia airport is the costliest to build at the time, $45 million.
  • 1937 – The Condor Legion is redeployed to assist the Spanish Nationalist offensive in Asturias, which immediately speeds up greatly. German pilots led by Adolf Galland experiment with the “carpet bombing” of Asturian positions, in which the Germans fly in close formation very low, approach the enemy positions from the rear, and release their bombs simultaneously.
  • 1936 – First flight of the Nakajima Ki-27 (Allied reporting names “Nate” and “Abdul”)
  • 1929Martin XT5M-1 divebomber, BuNo A-8051, during terminal dive test at 350 IAS at 8,000 feet, lower starboard wing caves in, ripping extensive hole. NACA test pilot Bill H. McAvoy staggers aircraft back to the Martin field north of Baltimore, Maryland, landing at 110 mph with full-left stick input. Aircraft will go into production as the Martin BM-1.
  • 1928 – The airship, the Graf Zeppelin completed its first trans-Atlantic flight, landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, USA.
  • 1927 – Dieudonné Costes and Joseph Le Brix land in Brazil becoming the first persons to fly non-stop across the South Atlantic. The 2100-mile flight takes just over 18 hours.
  • 1923 – First British motor glider competition is flown, at Lympne Aerodrome, Kent.
  • 1921 – The Spanish airline Compania Española de Trafico Aereo is established – It will eventually form part of Iberia Airlines.
  • 1920 – The first commercial passenger flight into the Canadian north was made this date between Winnipeg and The Pas, Manitoba.
  • 1919 – Two more fatalities are recorded in the transcontinental endurance test when 2nd Lts. French Kirby and Stanley C. Miller die in an emergency landing in their DH-4 near the WyomingUtah border when they suffer engine failure near Evanston, Wyoming. During the two-week test, 54 accidents wreck or damage planes. Twenty-nine result from motor trouble, 16 from bad landings, 5 from poor weather, 2 when pilots lose their way, 1 in take-off, and 1 by fire. In 42 cases the accident meant the end of the race for the pilot. Seven fatalities occur during the race, one in a de Havilland DH-4B, the others in DH-4s. Lt. John Owen Donaldson was awarded the Mackay Gold Medal for taking first place in the Army's only transcontinental air race. Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina, would be eventually named for the Great War ace (eight credited victories).
  • 1915 – Orville Wright sells the Wright Company to a group of New York investors. The Wright Company was founded in 1909 by Orville and his late brother Wilbur Wright.
  • 1913 – Lieutenant Ronin makes the first official airmail flight in France.
  • 1909 – (15-23) Britain’s first Aviation Meeting held at Doncaster Racecourse.
  • 1884 – Arch Hoxsey, pioneer aviator, was born (d. 1910). Hoxsey was amongst one of the first Wright pilots to fly the Wrights’ new Model B aircraft after having been trained by Orville on the model A-B which was a transitional aircraft.
  • 1783, Pilâtre de Rozier and Marquis d'Arlandes rise into the air in a Montgolfière tethered to the ground in Paris. de Rozier becomes the first human passenger in a hot-air balloon, rising 26 m (84 ft).


  1. ^ "Space Shuttle Endeavour Arrives at Los Angeles Museum After 12-Mile Trip Across City" Associated Press,, October 15, 2012 [dead link]

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