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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.

Selected article

Airbus A380, the largest passenger jet in the world, entered commercial service in 2007.
Airbus SAS is an aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of EADS, a European aerospace consortium. Based in Toulouse, France and with significant activity across Europe, the company produces around half of the world's jet airliners. Airbus began as a consortium of aerospace manufacturers. Consolidation of European defence and aerospace companies around the turn of the century allowed the establishment of a simplified joint stock company in 2001, owned by EADS (80%) and BAE Systems (20%). After a protracted sale process BAE sold its shareholding to EADS on 13 October 2006. Airbus employs around 57,000 people at sixteen sites in four European Union countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain. Final assembly production is at Toulouse (France) and Hamburg (Germany). Airbus has subsidiaries in the United States, Japan and China.

Selected image

F-15 Eagle in a near vertical climb
Credit: Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Allen, USAF

An F-15D Eagle from the 325th Fighter Wing based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida releasing flares. The F-15 is a multi-role tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas. The first flight of the F-15A was in July 1972, but since then it has been produced in six model variations with both single seat and dual seat versions. The original and largest operator of the F-15 is the United States Air Force, but it is also operated by the air forces of Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

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Did you know

..that an aircraft's pitot-static system allows a pilot to monitor airspeed, Mach number, altitude, and altitude trend? ...that Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris accomplished the world's first powered flight in 1856, with a glider that was pulled behind a running horse? ... that a USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft crashed shortly after take-off at Bakers Creek, Queensland in 1943, killing 40 of the 41 service personnel on board and making it Australia's worst aviation disaster?

Selected Aircraft

F-4E from 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron dropping 500 lb (230 kg) Mark 82 bombs

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic fighter-bomber originally developed for the U.S. Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. Proving highly adaptable, it became a major part of the air wings of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. It was used extensively by all three of these services during the Vietnam War, serving as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, as well as being important in the ground-attack and reconnaissance roles by the close of U.S. involvement in the war.

First entering service in 1960, the Phantom continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon in the U.S. Air Force; the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy; and the F/A-18 in the U.S. Marine Corps. It remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. The Phantom was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as an unmanned target in the U.S. Air Force.

Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built. This extensive run makes it the second most-produced Western jet fighter, behind the F-86 Sabre at just under 10,000 examples.

  • Span: 38 ft 4.5 in (11.7 m)
  • Length: 63 ft 0 in (19.2 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 6 in (5.0 m)
  • Engines: 2× General Electric J79-GE-17A axial compressor turbojets, 17,845 lbf (79.6 kN) each
  • Cruising Speed: 506 kn (585 mph, 940 km/h)
  • First Flight: 27 May 1958
  • Number built: 5,195
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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

Wikinews Aviation portal
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Today in Aviation

August 17

  • 1988 – Death of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq: President of Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq dies in the crash of a C-130 Hercules transport near Bahawalpur, Pakistan.
  • 1988 – 50 people set a world record for flying in a single hot air balloon (Lelystad, Netherlands)
  • 1988 – A PAF Lockheed C-130B Hercules, 23494, 'R' (ex-USAF 62-3494), c/n 3708, crashes near the Pakistani town of Bahawalpur, killing everyone aboard, including the President of Pakistan General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, American Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Lewis Raphel, Head of Pakistan's military intelligence General Akther Abdul Rehman and nearly all of the top military brass of the Pakistan Army.
  • 1986 - First flight of Tsunami, an experimental purpose-built racing aircraft.
  • 1978 – The U. S. balloon, Double Eagle II, becomes the first balloon to cross the Atlantic. The trip begins in Maine and ends almost 6 days later in France.
  • 1965 – Sikorsky HSS-1N Seabat, BuNo 149841, c/n 58-1430, coded '136', of the Koninklijke Marine, crashes near Noordwijk, Netherlands.
  • 1946 – The first person in the U. S. to be ejected from an airplane by means of its emergency escape equipment is Sergeant Lambert at Wright Field in Ohio.
  • 1945 – Two Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers collide over Weatherford, Texas during a bomber training exercise. Eight crew members were killed, 2 managed to escape from the falling wreckage and parachute to safety. Boeing B-29A Superfortress, 42-93895, of the 234th Combat Crew Training Squadron, Clovis Army Air Field, New Mexico, and Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 44-86276, of the 231st CCTS, Alamagordo Army Air Field, New Mexico, involved.
  • 1945 – During Operation Dodge, the RAF airlift of troops home from Italian deployment, Avro Lancaster, ME834, coded 'K-OG', of 115 Squadron, based at RAF Graveley, struck HK798, coded 'K-OH', of the same squadron, and PB754, coded 'TL-A', of Graveley-based 35 Squadron when it swerves off runway while taking off from Bari, Italy.
  • 1943 – World War II – The U. S. Eighth Air Force suffers the loss of 60 bombers on the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission.
  • 1943 – 164 U. S. Army Air Forces aircraft of the Fifth Air Force attack Japanese airfields at Wewak, New Guinea, destroying 70 planes while the Japanese are servicing them for another raid on Marilinan.
  • 1943 – The last Axis forces evacuate Sicily, bringing the Sicily campaign to an end. The U. S. Army Air Forces have lost 28 killed, 41 wounded, and 88 missing during the campaign.
  • 1943 – (17-18) The German Luftwaffe makes two 80-plane raids by Junkers Ju 88 s against Bizerte, Tunisia, where Allied ships are assembling for the invasion of mainland Italy. They sink an infantry landing craft, damage three other vessels, destroy oil installations, kill 22 men, and wound 215.
  • 1943 – 17-18 – RAF bombers attack the German missile research station at Peenemünde.
  • 1942 – Heavy bombers of the United States Army Air Forces’ Eighth Air Force carry out their first raid, attacking a railroad marshalling yard at Rouen, France.
  • 1942 – First crash of a Messerschmitt Me 262 occurs when pilot Heinrich Beauvais, of the Rechlin test center, fails to achieve flying speed on his first take-off in the type from Leipheim air field, overruns runway, wipes out in adjacent potato field. Both engines of the Me 262 V3 prototype are torn from the nacelles, both wings damaged, starboard wheel shorn off, but airframe is deemed repairable. Pilot uninjured.
  • 1942 – Grumman XF6F-3 Hellcat, BuNo 02982, first flown 30 July 1942, suffers engine failure of Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 on test flight out of Bethpage, New York, Grumman test pilot Bob Hall dead-sticks into a farmer's field on Long Island, survives unpowered landing but airframe heavily damaged.
  • 1940 – Billy Fiske – American aviator and Olympic athlete, died as the first American pilot casualty of World War II during the Battle of Britain. (b. 1911).
  • 1940 – No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron became operational and commenced patrols from its base at Northholt, England.
  • 1929 – Francis Gary Powers, American U-2 pilot whose U-2 spy plane was shot down while over the Soviet Union, thus causing the U-2 Crisis of 1960, was born. (d. 1977).
  • 1927 – The Dole Derby Air Race, also known as the Dole Derby, was a tragic air race to cross the Pacific Ocean from northern California to the Territory of Hawaii in August 1927. Of the 15-18 entrant airplanes, 11 were certified to compete but three crashed before the race, resulting in three deaths. Eight eventually participated in the race, with two crashing on takeoff and two going missing during the race. A third, forced to return for repairs, took off again to search for the missing and was itself never seen again. In all, before, during, and after the race, ten lives were lost and six airplanes were total losses. Two of the eight planes successfully landed in Hawaii. 1925 – Entered Service: Curtiss P-1 Hawk with 1st Pursuit Group, United States Army Air Service
  • 1917 – Tasked to study how the United Kingdom’s air forces could be best organized for the war with Germany and to consider whether or not they should remain subordinate to the British Army and Royal Navy, General Jan Smuts completes the Smuts Report. In it, he observes that an air service could be used as “an independent means of war operations, ” that “there is absolutely no limit to the scale of its future independent war service, ” that soon “aerial operations with their devastation of enemy lands and destruction of industrial and populous centres on a vast scale may be the principal operations of war, to which older forms of military and naval operations may become secondary and subordinate. ” He projects that by the summer of 1918 “the air battle front will be far behind the Rhine” while the ground front is still bogged down in Belgium and France and that air attacks on German industry and lines of communication could be an “important factor in bringing about peace. ” The report is the foundation of a new theory of warfare advocated by British bomber advocates and will inspire the creation of the independent Royal Air Force in 1918.
  • 1914 – The Imperial Japanese Navy’s first aviation ship, Wakamiya, is recommissioned as a seaplane carrier.
  • 1910 – The first English Channel crossing by an airplane with a passenger is made by John Moisant who takes his mechanic in his two-seater Blariot on the flight from Calais, France to Dover, England.
  • 1890 – Stefan Bastyr, Polish aviation pioneer and pilot of the first military flight in the history of the Polish Air Force, was born. (d. 1920)


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