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Airplanes, Flight

The history of the airplane and flight.


Airbus A380
Studio 504/ Stone/ Getty Images
The inventors of the first airplane were Orville and Wilbur Wright. On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made the first successful experiment in which a machine (aka airplane) carrying a man rose by its own power, flew naturally and at even speed, and descended without damage.

What is an Airplane?

Most of us only have to look up into the sky to see an airplane, and many of us have traveled by airplane to places that would have taken much longer by any other means of transportation. An airplane by definition is an aircraft that has a fixed wing and is powered by propellers or jets.

Before the Wright Brothers - History of Flight

However, before the first airplane was invented by the Wright Brothers, inventors made numerous attempts to make like the birds and fly. These early inventions included kites, hot air balloons, airships, gliders, and other devices.

Orville Wright & Wilbur Wright - First Piloted & Powered Airplane

"Flight is possible to man...[and] I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life". - Wilbur Wright Co-Inventor of the first engined airplane.

Orville Wright (1871-1948) and Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) had requested a patent application for a "flying machine" nine months before their first successful flight, they were that confidant.

As part of the Wright Brothers' systematic practice of photographing every prototype and test of their various flying machines, they had persuaded an attendant from a nearby lifesaving station to snap Orville Wright in full flight. The craft soared to an altitude of 10 feet, traveled 120 feet, and landed 12 seconds after takeoff. After making two longer flights that day, Orville and Wilbur Wright sent a telegram to their father, instructing him to inform the press that manned flight had taken place. This was birth of the first real airplane.

Airplane Technology - How Does an Airplane Fly

All things that fly need air. Air has power to push and pull on the birds, balloons, kites and planes. So how does an airplane use the properties of air to create flight.

Post Propeller - Jet Airplane Technology

Inventors continued to improve airplanes after the Wright Brothers, and this led to the invention of jets, which are used by both the military and commercial airlines. A jet is an airplane propelled by jet engines. Jets fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes - as high as 10,000 to 15,000 meters (about 33,000 to 49,000 ft).

Two engineers, Frank Whittle of the United Kingdom and Hans von Ohain of Germany, developed the jet engine during the late 1930s.

Beyond Airplanes - Space Flight

The evolution of the rocket has made it an indispensable tool in the exploration of space and space flight. By the end of the 19th century, inventors were beginning to consider the possibility of space travel.
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