Aircraft

Any structure, machine, or contrivance, especially a vehicle, designed to be supported by the air, being borne up either by the dynamic action of the air upon the surfaces of the structure or object, or by its own buoyancy; such structures, machines, or vehicles collectively.

Aircraft, in its broadest meaning, includes fixed-wing airplanes, helicopters, gliders, airships, free and captive balloons, ornithopters, flying model aircraft, kites, etc., but since the term carries a strong vehicular suggestion, it is more often applied, or recognized to apply, only to such of these craft as are designed to support or convey a burden in or through the air.

Aerostat
Denotes a lighter than air craft.

Airship
A powered lighter-than-air craft.

Autogyro
An aeroplane that flies by virtue of the lift generated by freewheeling rotating wings set windmill fashion above the fuselage.

Balloon
A lighter than air craft. The Montgolfier brothers made the first flight in a hot air balloon in 1783.

Biplane
An airplane with two sets of wings, one on top of the other. Historically the biplane configuration was used as it improves the bending stiffness of the wing that was otherwise difficult to achieve in early monoplane designs.

Glider
A highly efficient engineless aeroplane. Capable of flying for long periods in gently rising air currents.

Helicopter
An aircraft that produces lift using airfoils that are driven and rotate about a vertical axis.

Monoplane
An aircraft with one set of wings. Early monoplane designs used wire braces or rigid struts to improve the strength of the wing.

Triplane
A fixed wing aeroplane with 3 wings arranged one above the other.

Historical Notes
1783 The Montgolfier brothers make the first flight in a hot air balloon.

1785 The first balloon crossing of the English Channel by Blanchard and Jeffries.

1852 A steam powered airship was flown over Paris by Henri Giffard.

1853 Sir George Cayley built a glider in which his coachman flew across a valley in Yorkshire.

17 December 1903 Replica of the Wright FlyerOn this day Orville Wright made the first controlled powered flight. He flew a distance of 120 feet, lasting 12 seconds. On the second flight his brother Wilbur Wright flew a distance of 850 feet, lasting 69 seconds.

1908 Samuel Cody made the first powered flight in the UK. Perhaps more famous for his wild west shows before this.

25 July 1909 Louis Bleriot crosses the English Channel from Baraques (nr Calais, France) to Dover Castle (England) in a Bleriot XI a distance of 231/2 miles in 36 minutes and 30 seconds winning the 1000 prize offered by the Daily Mail.


14 November 1910 The first aeroplane flight from a ship. Eugene Ely flew a Curtiss Albany Flyer from the USS Birmingham.

19 August 1913 The first parachute drop in Europe by Frenchman Pegoud. He was also the first person to perform aerobatics in a specially strengthened Bleriot.

20 August 1913 The first loop was made by Piotr Nesterov in a Nieuport Monoplane.

3 March 1915 NACA was formed "...to supervise and direct the scientific study of the problems of flight, with a view of their practical solution".

1919 John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first east to west non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in 16 hours and 27 minutes.

1927 Charles Lindbergh made the first west to east non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in The Spirit of St Louis.

17 to 18 June 1928 Amelia Earhart is the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air, from Newfoundland to Wales, as a passenger in the Wilmer Stultz-Louis Gordon Fokker C-2 Friendship.

1930 Frank Whittle patented the jet engine. Amy Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.

22 April 1931 Amelia Earhart sets the Autogyro altitude record at 18,400 feet.

14 October 1947 Bell X1The Bell X1 was the first aircraft to break through the sound barrier flown by Captain Charles E Yeager. The X1 was launched by a Boeing B29 at 30000 feet, once released the rocket motor was fired and it begun it's ascent to 42000 feet and 670 mph (Mach 1.015).

20 November 1953 The first aircraft to break Mach 2. A Douglas D-558-2 was flown by A Scott Crossfield to Mach 2.005 (1,328 mph) over Edwards Air Force Base.

7 September 1956 An altitude record of 126000 feet was set by Capt Iven C Kincheloe in a Bell X-2 at a speed of more than 1500 mph.

1959 Robert Timm and John Cook set the duration record after a flight lasting 64 days and 22 hours and 19 minutes, covering a distance equivalent to six times round the world, having been refuelled in flight.

1976 A US Airforce Lockheed SE-71A (Blackbird) sets a new speed record for a jet at 3529.56km/h (2193.17mph).

23 December 1986 Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager complete the first non-stop circumnavigation of the world without any refuelling in the Rutan Voyager. A distance of 24987 miles in 9 days 3 minutes and 44 seconds.

1988 Daedelus, a human powered aircraft was flown 74 miles across the Aegaen Sea, piloted and propelled by Kanellos Kanellopoulos.

See also: Aerodynamic Vehicle, Aerofoil, Aerostat, Airfield, Airfoil, Airframe, Autogyro, Automobile, Biplane, Civil Aviation Authority, Cockpit, Elevator, Glider, Helicopter, Monoplane, Rudder, Triplane.

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Subjects: Aerodynamics Aviation Transport


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