your word processor to make notes
A time line
of a century of flight.
List of web sites and some books on flight.
1. Finally, flight: From myths of flying to Alexander's
tactics, man carrying kites, and De Vinci’s suggestions, simple balloons,
people dreamed of flying. In the late 1800s several people experimented,
compared notes, and published books, including Penaud, Horatio Phillips,
Otto Lilienthal, and Octave Chanute.
The Wright Brothers studied many writings and scientifically experimented
to develop controlled, powered flight of heavier-than-air craft.Their sister Katherine was essential. The Wrights
evolved their craft. How aircraft can fly and
2. From Skimming to Flying: Aircraft at first flew close
to the ground as pilots learned the tricks of temperamental machines,
while designers like Glenn Curtiss developed easier to handle craft,
so pilots flew higher and further. Blériot
won the race to cross the English channel. Many experimented with acrobatics.
The Séguins invented and manufactured
the rotary engine. A week long air show in France in 1909 showed amazing
progress, but Glenn Curtiss was the only American to win. Designers like
Tommy Sopwith developed new craft as the
French and British pioneered new aircraft designs. U.S. fliers used European
craft in World War I, after training in the American Curtiss Jenny.
Sikorsky's 4-engine plane was the first of
several large aircraft that flew in World War I.
3. Individuals soar: World War I produced innovation
of aircraft and many skilled pilots, but after the war many jobless. From 1919 to the mid-30s
pilots developed barnstorming, sky writing, crop dusting, flying
much faster in air races. They flew further to
explore both poles from the air, crossing the Atlantic,
and circling the world. The Vickers Vimy was
favored for distance flight. Many men and women starred. European governments
quickly supported scheduled air mail and passenger flights, so built navigation
aids. Airlines flew across Europe and to Java, Africa, South America.
Later the U. S. Government helped air mail and built navigation
aids for foul weather and at night. Instrument flying was pioneered by
Sperry and Doolittle.
4. On schedule: Americans began to compete with the all
metal Ford Trimotor, craft from Boeing and Lockheed, then Douglas DC-3.
Airlines grew as more people flew, general aviation began with Piper and
others. Major breakthroughs resulted from 100 octane fuel pioneered by
Doolittle that led to more powerful engines. Aircraft began having one
wing instead of two, were all-metal with internal strength, retracting
gear, and thus much faster. The Stratoliner and Constellation
with pressurized cabins flew above most storms.
5. World War II: Again war was the impetus for major
improvements in aircraft and pilots, such as the creative innovation in
the design of the Spitfire, Corsair, Lightning, and Mustang. Several major
air battles caused tactical innovation. For strategic bombing the slower
big bombers needed "little friends" as escorts vs. the fast Mossie.
What were effects of strategic bombing? Pilots were scared by early brushes
with the sound barrier. Transports were critical. Pilots are more important
than aircraft: the “Thach weave”, Black Cats, Yeager and
Jabara were examples.
6. Safer and faster: The Berlin airlift saved the population
of Berlin and the Cold War while jet engines developed. Breaking the sound
barrier killed pilots, resulting in the slow process that Yeager and crew used to go supersonic. New radio navigation was developed. Solving why the first jetliner, the Comet,
disintegrated at altitude caused changes in construction that yielded safer aircraft so
that airlines and air freight carriers become dependable, safer, and faster.
7. The future: New problems are larger transports, terrorism fears and
safety, unmanned aircraft. Space flight went to the moon and built an international
space station, private space travel, paper
airplanes, and who knows what is next.