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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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Hot air balloon
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.

A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is the gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule) which carries the passengers and a source of heat. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope. Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the surrounding air. In today's sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the mouth of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material such as Nomex.

Recently, balloon envelopes have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as hot dogs, rocket ships, and the shapes of commercial products. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than just being pushed along by the wind are known as airships or, more specifically, thermal airships.

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Airplane pushing vehicle.jpg
Credit: David Benbennick

A pushback tractor attached to the front wheel of a Boeing 777. The vehicle is used to push the airplane out from the gate, before it starts taxiing on its own power. See Image:Denver International Airport, United Airlines Boeing 777 being serviced.jpg for a wider-view photo taken at the same time, from nearly the same angle.

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...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 Washington Senators outfielder Elmer Gedeon, who pulled a crew member from a burning wreck, died while piloting a B-26 bomber over France?

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Colour avrocar 59.jpg

The VZ-9 Avrocar (full military designation VZ-9-AV) was a Canadian VTOL aircraft developed by Avro Aircraft Ltd. as part of a secret U.S. military project carried out in the early years of the Cold War.[1] The Avrocar intended to exploit the Coandă effect to provide lift and thrust from a single "turborotor" blowing exhaust out the rim of the disk-shaped aircraft to provide anticipated VTOL-like performance. In the air, it would have resembled a flying saucer. Two prototypes were built as "proof-of-concept" test vehicles for a more advanced USAF fighter and also for a U.S. Army tactical combat aircraft requirement.[2] In flight testing, the Avrocar proved to have unresolved thrust and stability problems that limited it to a degraded, low-performance flight envelope; subsequently, the project was cancelled in 1961.

  • Diameter:18 ft (5.486 m)
  • Height: 3 ft 6 in (1.1 m)
  • Engines: 3 x Turbomeca Marboré Continental J69-T-9
  • Max Speed: 300 mph (482 km/h)
  • First Flight: 12 November 1959
  • Number built: 2
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Sophie Blanchard
Sophie Blanchard (25 March 1778 – 6 July 1819) was a French aeronaut and the wife of ballooning pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard. Blanchard was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and after her husband's death she continued ballooning, making more than 60 ascents. Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, Blanchard entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who promoted her to the role of "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals", replacing André-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII, who named her "Official Aeronaut of the Restoration".

Ballooning was a risky business for the pioneers. Blanchard lost consciousness on a few occasions, endured freezing temperatures and almost drowned when her balloon crashed in a marsh. In 1819, she became the first woman to be killed in an aviation accident when, during an exhibition in the Tivoli Gardens in Paris, she launched fireworks that ignited the gas in her balloon. Her craft crashed on the roof of a house and she fell to her death. She is commonly referred to as Madame Blanchard and is also known by many combinations of her maiden and married names, including Madeleine-Sophie Blanchard, Marie Madeleine-Sophie Blanchard, Marie Sophie Armant and Madeleine-Sophie Armant Blanchard.

In the news

Wikinews Aviation portal
  • January 26: Rescue helicopter crash kills six in Abruzzo, Italy
  • January 26: Official death toll from Nigerian refugee camp airstrike passes 100
  • January 25: UK Civil Aviation Authority issues update on Shoreham crash response
  • 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

Today in Aviation

April 23

  • 2006 – Johnnie Checketts, New Zealand fighter pilot, dies (b. 1912). Wing Commander John "Johnny" Milne Checketts DSO DFC (20 February 1912 – 23 April 2006) was a World War II Flying ace who was credited with 14.5 kills. He was awarded the US Silver Star in 1944 and the Polish Cross of Valour in 1945.
  • 1994 – Airbus delivers the first of 25 A300-600F dedicated freighters to the specialized package carrier, FedEx. This all-cargo version can carry up to a maximum payload of 120,855 lb over a range of 1,900 nautical miles.
  • 1988 – The U.S. government's ban on smoking on flights of two hours or less goes into effect. "No Smoking" signs remain lit on 80% of domestic airline flights. Flight attendants are to be armed with gum and candy for those in anguish.
  • 1988 – Kanellos Kanellopoulos recreates the mythical flight of Daedalus by flying a pedal-powered aircraft, the MIT Daedalus from Crete to Santorini, covering the 119 km (74 miles) in 3 hours 54 min.
  • 1971 – A USAF General Dynamics F-111E, 67-0117, c/n A1-162/E-3, out of Edwards AFB, California, crashes in a rocky area of the Mojave Desert 12 miles S of Death Valley National Monument during test flight, both crew, pilot Maj. James W. Hurt, 34, of Indianapolis, Indiana, and WSO Maj. Robert J. Furman, 31, of New York City, killed when parachute on escape module fails to open until just before ground impact. Both bodies were inside the escape module when it is found on Saturday, 24 April. Aircraft experienced trouble at 6,000 feet. This was the 18th crash of the type since entering service and the second fatal accident this year when the module chute failed to properly deploy. All F-111s are grounded on Thursday 30 April after it is determined that the recovery chute compartment door failed to separate making crew escape impossible. This was the sixth grounding order for the type since it entered operation. The grounding order was lifted on 8 June 1971 during which time the panel that failed in this accident had been replaced.
  • 1966 – American aircraft encounter MiG fighters in large numbers over North Vietnam.
  • 1965 – The first production C-141A Starlifter cargo aircraft is delivered to the U.S. Air Force' Military Airlift Command.
  • 1950 – A prototype SNCASO 4000, France's first jet bomber design, F-WBBL, rolled out 5 March 1950, suffers undercarriage collapse during taxiing trials causing extensive damage. Complex gear design proves too fragile for aircraft weight. With repairs and strengthened gear, the bomber makes its first and only flight on 15 March 1951 but design is found to be underpowered and unstable and never again takes to the air.
  • 1945 – A U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 43-38856, coded 'GD-M', of the 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy), crashes on the east facing slope of North Barrule in the Isle of Man killing 31 US service personnel (including ground crew) en route to Belfast for memorial service for President Roosevelt.
  • 1945 – The United States Navy puts its first radar-guided bomb, the SWOD-9 "Bat" into use, dropping it from Consolidated PB4Y Liberators on Japanese shipping in Balikpapan Harbour.
  • 1943 – Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb Tarawa Atoll.
  • 1942 – U.S. Navy Vought SB2U-2 Vindicator, BuNo 1363,[120] of VS-71, assigned to the USS Wasp, but flown ashore to clear deckspace for Spitfires bound for Malta, crashes in peat bog near Invergordon, Scotland, killing Ens. Jackson and Aviation Machinist's Mate Atchison. Atchison's body recovered, but squadron diary records that Jackson's body and bulk of airframe were buried too deeply, so remains and wreckage were covered over.
  • 1941 – No. 405 (Bomber) Squadron was formed in England.
  • 1941 – German Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers sink the Greek battleships Kilkis and Lemnos off Salamis Island, Greece, during the German invasion of Greece.
  • 1939 – The U.S. Civil Aeronautics Authority raises the eligibility age for obtaining a private pilot license to 18 years from the previous 16 years.
  • 1919 – The North Sea Aerial Navigation Company begins a passenger run between Leeds and Houndslow in ex-military Blackburn RT.1s.


  1. ^ Yenne 2003), pp. 281–283.
  2. ^ Milberry 1979, p. 137.

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