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The Aviation Portal

Avion silhouette.svg

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, parachutes, 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. The most significant advancement in aviation technology came with the controlled gliding flying of Otto Lilienthal; then a large step in significance came with the construction of the first powered airplane in the early 1900s. Since that time, aviation has been technologically revolutionized with the introduction of the jet which permitted a major form of transport throughout the world.

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Hercules.propeller.arp.jpg
A propeller is essentially a type of fan which transmits power by converting rotational motion into thrust for propulsion of an aircraft through the air, by rotating two or more twisted blades about a central shaft, in a manner analogous to rotating a screw through a solid. The blades of a propeller act as rotating wings (the blades of a propeller are in fact wings or airfoils), and produce force through application of both Bernoulli's principle and Newton's third law, generating a difference in pressure between the forward and rear surfaces of the airfoil-shaped blades and by accelerating a mass of air rearward.

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Su-27 on landing.jpg
Credit: Dmitry A. Mottl

Su-27 from Russian Knights aerobatic team on landing, Kubinka

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Amelia Earhart (1897-1937?)

Amelia Mary Earhart (July 24, 1897 – missing as of July 2, 1937), daughter of Edwin and Amy Earhart, was an American aviator and noted early female pilot who mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during a circumnavigational flight in 1937.

By 1919 Earhart had enrolled at Columbia University to study pre-med but quit a year later to be with her parents in California. Later in Long Beach she and her father went to a stunt-flying exhibition and the next day she went on a ten minute flight.

Earhart had her first flying lesson at Kinner Field near Long Beach. Her teacher was Anita Snook, a pioneer female aviator. Six months later Earhart purchased a yellow Kinner Airster biplane which she named "Canary." On October 22, 1922, she flew it to an altitude of 14,000 feet, setting a women's world record.

After Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, Amy Guest, a wealthy American living in London, England expressed interest in being the first woman to fly (or be flown) across the Atlantic Ocean, but after deciding the trip was too dangerous to make herself, she offered to sponsor the project, suggesting they find "another girl with the right image." While at work one afternoon in April 1928 Earhart got a phone call from a man who asked her, "Would you like to fly the Atlantic?" (more...)

Did you know

...that on October 5, 1914, a French Voisin III pilot scored the first air-to-air kill of World War I?

...that Berlin Airlift "Candy Bomber" Gail Halvorsen would wiggle the wings of his plane to identify himself to children below?

... that on 28 May 1931, a Bellanca CH-300 fitted with a Packard DR-980 diesel engine set a 55-year record for staying aloft for 84 hours and 32 minutes without being refueled?

Aviation News

Today in Aviation

January 17

  • 1991 - US-led forces attack Iraq in a massive air assault after a United Nations deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from occupied Kuwait passes unheeded.
  • 1966 - a B-52 Stratofortress collides with a KC-135 Stratotanker during aerial refueling near Palomares, Spain. Seven crewmembers are killed in the crash, and two of the B-52's four nuclear weapons rupture, scattering radioactive material over the countryside. One bomb lands intact near the town, and another is lost at sea. It is later recovered intact 5 miles (8 km) offshore.
  • 1906 - Zeppelin LZ2 (makes a forced landing and is destroyed in high winds the following day).


Selected Aircraft

A spitfire in flight

The Supermarine Spitfire was a single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many Allied countries in World War II.

Produced by Supermarine, the Spitfire was designed by R.J. Mitchell, who continued to refine it until his death from cancer in 1937. The elliptical wing had a thin cross-section, allowing a faster top speed than the Hurricane and other contemporary designs; it also resulted in a distinctive appearance. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire saw service during the whole of World War II, in all theatres of war, and in many different variants.

More than 20,300 examples of all variants were built, including two-seat trainers, with some Spitfires remaining in service well into the 1950s. It was the only fighter aircraft to be in continual production before, during and after the war.

The aircraft was dubbed Spitfire by Sir Robert MacLean, director of Vickers (the parent company of Supermarine) at the time, and on hearing this, Mitchell is reported to have said, "...sort of bloody silly name they would give it." The word dates from Elizabethan times and refers to a particularly fiery, ferocious type of person, usually a woman. The name had previously been used unofficially for Mitchell's earlier F.7/30 Type 224 design.

The prototype (K5054) first flew on March 5, 1936, from Eastleigh Aerodrome (later Southampton Airport). Testing continued until May 26, 1936, when Mutt Summers (Chief Test Pilot for Vickers (Aviation) Ltd.) flew K5054 to Martlesham and handed the aircraft over to Squadron Leader Anderson of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE).

  • Length: 29 ft 11 in (9.12 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
  • Number Built: 20,351 (excluding Seafires)
  • Maximum speed: 330 knots (378 mph, 605 km/h)
  • Maiden flight: March 5, 1936
  • Powerplant: 1× Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 supercharged V12 engine, 1470 hp at 9250 ft (1096 kW at 2820 m)

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