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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. Some of the most significant advancements in aviation technology came with the controlled gliding flying of Otto Lilienthal; then a largest 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 with the introduction of the jet which permitted a major form of transport throughout the world.

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Air Force One
An airport is a facility where aircraft can take off and land. At the very minimum, an airport consists of one runway (or helipad), but other common components are hangars and terminal buildings. Apart from these, an airport may have a variety of facilities and infrastructure, including fixed base operator services, air traffic control, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services.

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F-15, 71st Fighter Squadron, in flight.JPG
Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers [1]

Capt. Matt Buckner, an F-15 Eagle pilot assigned to the 71st Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., flies a combat air patrol mission Oct. 7 over Washington, D.C., in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

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Did you know

...that Alejandro Maclean, Spanish television producer and Red Bull Air Race World Series pilot, is nicknamed "The Flying Matador"?

...that on May 3, 2002 a military MiG-21bis aircraft crashed into the Bank of Rajasthan in India, killing eight?

... that the PZL SM-4 Łątka never flew, because its engine was not approved for use in flight?

Selected Aircraft

XB-36 first flight.jpg
The Convair B-36 was a strategic bomber built by Convair for the United States Air Force, the first to have truly intercontinental range. Unofficially nicknamed the "Peacemaker", the B-36 was the first thermonuclear weapon delivery vehicle, the largest piston aircraft ever to be mass-produced, and the largest warplane of any kind.

The B-36 was the only American aircraft with the range and payload to carry such bombs from airfields on American soil to targets in the USSR, as storing nuclear weapons in foreign countries was diplomatically delicate. The nuclear deterrent the B-36 afforded may have kept the Soviet Army from fighting alongside the North Korean and Chinese armies during the Korean War. Convair touted the B-36 as an "aluminum overcast," a "long rifle" to give SAC a global reach. When General Curtis LeMay headed SAC (1949-57) and turned it into an effective nuclear delivery force, the B-36 formed the heart of his command. Its maximum payload was more than four times that of the B-29, even exceeding that of the B-52.

  • Span: 230 ft 0 in (70.10 m)
  • Length: 162 ft 1 in (49.40 m)
  • Height: 46 ft 9 in (14.25 m)
  • Engines: 6× Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 "Wasp Major" radials, 3,800 hp (2,500 kW) each
  • Cruising Speed: 230 mph (200 kn, 380 km/h) with jets off
  • Range: 6,795 mi (5,905 nmi, 10,945 km) with 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) payload
  • First Flight: 8 August 1946

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Erich Alfred "Bubi" Hartmann (19 April 1922 – 20 September 1993), also nicknamed "The Blond Knight of Germany" by friends and "The Black Devil" by his enemies, was a German fighter pilot and still is the highest scoring fighter ace in the history of aerial combat. He scored 352 aerial victories (of which 345 were won against the Soviet Air Force, and 260 of which were fighters) in 1,404 combat missions and engaging in aerial combat 825 times while serving with the Luftwaffe in World War II. During the course of his career Hartmann was forced to crash land his damaged fighter 14 times. This was due to damage received from parts of enemy aircraft he had just shot down, or mechanical failure. Hartmann was never shot down or forced to land due to enemy fire.[1]

Hartmann, a pre-war glider pilot, joined the Luftwaffe in 1940 and completed his fighter pilot training in 1942. He was posted to Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) on the Eastern front and was fortunate to be placed under the supervision of some of the Luftwaffe's most experienced fighter pilots. Under their guidance Hartmann steadily developed his tactics which would earn him the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 25 August 1944 for claiming 301 aerial victories.

He scored his 352nd and last aerial victory on 8 May 1945. He and the remainder of JG 52 surrendered to United States Army forces and were turned over to the Red Army. Convicted of false "War Crimes" and sentenced to 25 years of hard labour, Hartmann would spend 10 years in various Soviet prison camps and gulags until he was released in 1955. In 1956, Hartmann joined the newly established West German Luftwaffe and became the first Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 71 "Richthofen". Hartmann resigned early from the Bundeswehr in 1970, largely due to his opposition of the F-104 Starfighter deployment in the Bundesluftwaffe and the resulting clashes with his superiors over this issue. Erich Hartmann died in 1993.

In the news

Wikinews Aviation portal
  • January 18: Nigerian jet attacks refugee camp, killing dozens
  • January 18: Cargo plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan, killing over 30
  • January 14: Fighter jet crashes during Children's Day airshow in Thailand
  • December 26: Plane carrying 92 crashes into Black Sea near Sochi
  • December 23: Hijackers divert Libyan passenger jet to Malta
  • December 21: Pakistan International Airlines sacrifices goat, resumes ATR flights
  • December 14: Judge rules Air Canada Flight 624 victims can sue Transport Canada
  • December 8: Drone delivers transfusion blood intact
  • December 7: PIA flight crashes near Havelian, Pakistan
  • December 3: Indonesian police plane crashes near Batam, fifteen missing

Today in Aviation

January 21

  • 2010 – A Sociedad de Salvamento y Seguridad Marítima AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter fell into the sea off Almería. Three people are missing.
  • 2009 – An Indian Air Force HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk.2 military trainer aircraft from the No. 52 Squadron Surya Kiran (Sun Rays) Aerobatics display team based at the Bidar Air Force Station in Karnataka, India crashed into a field during a routine training exercise killing the pilot.
  • 2004 – NASA's Mars Exploration Robot-A (MER-A) Spirit ceases communication from the red-planet because of a flash memory issue. The problem would be fixed two days later remotely from Earth.
  • 1999 – Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR.1 ZA330, 'B-08', crashed into a Cessna 152 II, G-BPZX near Mattersley Nottinghamshire. In the Air Accident Report 3/2000 the conclusion was none of the pilots saw each other in time to take avoiding action. Both crew of the Tornado, Flight Lieutenant Greg Hurst and Sottotenete Matteo Di Carlo, as well as the pilot and passenger in the Cessna, were killed.
  • 1999 – A Nicaraguan Air Force Antonov An-26, 126, c/n 14206, crashes into a mountain near Bluefields, Nicaragua, killing all 28 on board.
  • 1991 – An Iraqi surface-to-air missile shoots down a U. S. Navy F-14 Tomcat and a United States Army attack helicopter is lost to non-combat causes in the Gulf War. Coalition aircraft have flown more than 4,000 sorties against Iraqi forces since Operation Desert Storm began, targeting command-and-control centers, airfields, and Scud short-range ballistic missile launchers. They now shift their focus to Iraqi positions around Basra and along the Iraq-Kuwait border.
  • 1991 – The Soviet Union commissions the “heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser” Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov. A hybrid ship combining the capability of a Western aircraft carrier to operate high-performance fighters for fleet air defense with the heavy shipboard antiship missile armament of Soviet guided-missile cruisers, she is the first Soviet or Russian ship with a full-length flight deck similar to that of Western aircraft carriers and the only such ship ever to be built prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
  • 1987 – American triathlete Lois McCallin, in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Michelob Light Eagle human powered aircraft, sets straight-line and closed circuit world distance records and the world duration record for women at 6.83 km (4.25 miles), 15.44 km (9.59 miles) and 37 min 38 seconds respectively.
  • 1985Galaxy Airlines Flight 203, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashes in Reno, Nevada while attempting to return to the airport to troubleshoot a noise, killing 70 of the 71 people on board. It is later discovered that the air start door was not properly secured.
  • 1980Iran Air Flight 291, a Boeing 727, crashes near Tehran, Iran. The plane hits high ground in a snowstorm during the approach to land; all 128 aboard are killed.
  • 1978 – Death of Theodor Hermann Dahlmann, German WWI flying ace, influential aviation administrator before and during WWII.
  • 1974 – Death of Everett Richard Cook, American WWI flying ace, High-ranking officer during WWII and later, one of the Directors of Eastern Airlines.
  • 19681968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash: A Boeing B-52G-100-BW Stratofortress, 58-0188, c.n. 4642256, of the 528th Bomb Squadron, 380th Bomb Wing, from Plattsburgh AFB, New York, carrying four hydrogen bombs crashes on the ice seven miles from Thule Air Base, Greenland at 1639 hrs. AST, 1 crew member killed; all four B-28 weapons are consumed in post-crash fire, however one bomb unaccounted for after debris is audited; extensive contamination of site and several relief workers exposed to radiation.] This accident caused the Department of Defense to suspend Operation Chrome Dome, the nuclear airborne alert program of SAC.
  • 1960Avianca Flight 671, a Lockheed Constellation, crashes on landing at Sangster International Airport, killing 2 of 7 crew and 35 of 39 passengers on board in Jamaica's worst aviation accident.
  • 1960 – Little Joe 1 B, Launch Escape System test of the Mercury spacecraft, lifts off from Wallops Island, Virginia with Miss Sam, a female rhesus monkey on board.
  • 1960 – Death of John Stanley Chick, British WWI fighter ace, and RAF officer until the end of WWII.
  • 1958 – The last Fokker C. X in military service, the Finnish Air Force FK-111 target tower, crashed, killing the pilot and winch-operator.
  • 1952 – Second prototype of Arsenal VG 90 turbojet strike fighter design for the Aéronavale, VG-90.02, first flown June 1951, crashes this date killing pilot Claude Dellys.
  • 1952 – The Saab 210 experimental delta-winged research aircraft makes its first flight in Sweden.
  • 1951Lockheed P2V-4 Neptune, of VP-22, deployed to WestPac during the Korean War on 1 November 1950 and based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, is lost this date due to starboard engine failure during takeoff. The P2V crashed and sank in 20 fathoms of water one mile off the end of the runway. There were 11 survivors and two crewmen were listed as missing (their bodies were later recovered).
  • 1951 – The U. S. Air Force F-84 Thunderjet makes its first kill, when F-84 pilot Lieutenant Colonel William E. Bertram shoots down a MiG-15 during the Korean War.
  • 1950 – First flight of the Tupolev Tu-75, a Soviet 4 engine military transport prototype variant of the Tu-4 bomber.
  • 1950 – Birth of Joseph Richard "Joe" Tanner, jet pilot, and NASA astronaut.
  • 1945 – The British East Indies Fleet aircraft carriers HMS Ameer and HMS Shah support the landings of the 26th Indian Infantry Division on Ramree Island off the coast of Burma.
  • 1945 – Task Force 38 aircraft fly 1,164 sorties in strikes on Formosa, the Pescadores, and the Sakishima Gunto, sinking five tankers and five other merchant ships and destroying two Japanese aircraft in the air and 104 on the ground. In Japanese air attacks on the task force, a bomber damages the aircraft carrier USS Langley (CVL-27) and kamikazes damage the carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) and a destroyer; an accidental bomb explosion during a landing accident damages the carrier USS Hancock (CV-19).
  • 1944 – Launch of Operation Steinbock (Baby Blitz), nocturnal WWII Luftwaffe offensive against southern England launched primarily for the sake of propaganda and as a measure of retaliation than for any military objective
  • 1944 – German ace Hauptmann Manfred Meurer is killed when his Heinkel He 219 night fighter collides with a British Lancaster bomber over Magdeburg, Germany. He has 65 kills at the time of his death.
  • 1943Pan Am Flight 1104, a Martin M-130 nicknamed the Philippine Clipper, crashes into a mountain near Boonville, California, killing all 19 passengers and crew, including Rear-Admiral Robert H. English, commander of the U. S. Pacific Submarine Fleet.
  • 1943 – The Combined Chiefs of Staff issue the Casablanca Directive. Its principal aim was to weld RAF and USAAF strategic bomber forces into one mighty air arm able to crush the German industrial, military and economic system.
  • 1938 – First flight of the Potez-CAMS 141 ‘Antares’, a French four engined monoplane long range reconnaissance flying boat prototype.
  • 1936 – First flight of the FMA AeC.3G, an Argentinian light utility aircraft, an evolution of the FMA AeC.3, first Argentine aircraft to be equipped with flaps.
  • 1931 – First flight of the Vickers Type 161, a British unusual pusher biplane prototype interceptor, designed to attack aircraft from below with a single upward-angle large calibre gun.
  • 1930 – First complete airport lighting system online at Calgary airport.
  • 1921 – The first triple-triplane aircraft, and the first passenger-carrying aircraft designed to carry more than 100 people that actually got off the ground, is launched at Lake Maggiore, Italy. The flight attempt ends in failure when the 55,000 lb. flying boat nosedives into the lake.
  • 1920 – The last Royal Navy balloon ship, HMS Canning, which has operated since December 1916 as a balloon depot ship, is sold.
  • 1920 – 10 de Havilland DH-9 are dispatched to form "Z Force", and are used for bombing, strafing and as air ambulances during the RAF first ‘Little War’ against the tribal leader Mohammed bin Abdulla Hassan, the ‘Mad Mullah’, in British Somaliland.
  • 1919 – Birth of Eric Melrose "Winkle" Brown, CBE, DSC, AFC RN, British Navy test pilot who has flown more types of aircraft than anyone else in history and holds the world record for aircraft carrier landings.
  • 1911 – Lieutenant Paul Ward Beck sends the first wireless-telephonic message from an aeroplane, sending a message from a Wright biplane over Selfridge Field in Michigan.
  • 1903 – Birth of Maximilien "Max" Conrad, known as the "Flying Grandfather", American record-setting aviator.
  • 1900 – Birth of Anselm Franz, pioneering Austrian jet engine engineer known for the development of the Jumo 004, the world’s first mass-produced turbojet engine.
  • 1899 – Birth of Leslie Reginald Warren, British WWI flying ace.
  • 1899 – Birth of Maurice Michael Freehill, British WWI flying ace.
  • 1899 – Birth of Pruett Mullens Dennett, British WWI flying ace.
  • 1897 – Birth of Ernest Thomas Morrow, Canadian WWI flying ace.
  • 1897 – Birth of Carlo Francesco "Francis" Lombardi, Italian WWI flying ace, Aircraft and Automobile designer who made post war record breaking flights. He formed the Avia aviation company.
  • 1896 – Birth of Fritz Thiede, German WWI flying ace, Pilot of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich who also served in WWII.
  • 1893 – Birth of Duerson "Dewey" Knight, American WWI flying ace.
  • 1893 – Birth of Trevor Durrant, British WWI flying ace.


  1. ^ Toliver & Constable 1986, p. 12.
  2. ^ "Incident: Cargolux B744 at Luxemburg on January 21st 2010, touched van on runway during landing". Aviation Herald. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 

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