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A Boeing 747

Aviation includes 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 hot air 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. (Full article...)

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Microburst schematic from NASA. Note the downward motion of the air until it hits ground level, then spreads outward in all directions. The wind regime in a microburst is completely opposite to a tornado.
Microburst schematic from NASA. Note the downward motion of the air until it hits ground level, then spreads outward in all directions. The wind regime in a microburst is completely opposite to a tornado.
Wind shear, sometimes referred to as windshear or wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed and direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. Wind shear can be broken down into vertical and horizontal components, with horizontal wind shear seen across weather fronts and near the coast, and vertical shear typically near the surface, though also at higher levels in the atmosphere near upper level jets and frontal zones aloft.

Wind shear itself is a microscale meteorological phenomenon occurring over a very small distance, but it can be associated with mesoscale or synoptic scale weather features such as squall lines and cold fronts. It is commonly observed near microbursts and downbursts caused by thunderstorms, weather fronts, areas of locally higher low level winds referred to as low level jets, near mountains, radiation inversions that occur due to clear skies and calm winds, buildings, wind turbines, and sailboats. Wind shear has a significant effect during take-off and landing of aircraft due to their effects on steering of the aircraft, and was a significant cause of aircraft accidents involving large loss of life within the United States.

Sound movement through the atmosphere is affected by wind shear, which can bend the wave front, causing sounds to be heard where they normally would not, or vice versa. Strong vertical wind shear within the troposphere also inhibits tropical cyclone development, but helps to organize individual thunderstorms into living longer life cycles which can then produce severe weather. The thermal wind concept explains with how differences in wind speed with height are dependent on horizontal temperature differences, and explains the existence of the jet stream. (Full article...)

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Airbus A330
The Airbus A330 is a wide-body twin-engine jet airliner made by Airbus which was introduced in 1994. The A330-200, such as pictured here in Aeroflot livery, entered service in 1998 and was considerably more popular than the earlier A330-300. In December 2012 there were 476 A330-200s in operation.

Did you know

...that British Airways unveiled a new corporate identity in 1997 which involved repainting its fleet with around 20 daring tailfin designs by world artists?

...that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight contains the world's oldest airworthy survivor of the Battle of Britain, alongside ten other historic aircraft - two of which fought over Normandy on D-Day? ... 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?

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The following are images from various aviation-related articles on Wikipedia.

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Orville Wright
Wilbur Wright

The Wright brothers, Orville Wright (August 19, 1871 - January 30, 1948) and Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867 - May 30, 1912), are generally credited with making the first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air flight on December 17, 1903. In the two years afterward, they developed their flying machine into the world's first practical airplane, along with many other aviation milestones.

In 1878 Wilbur and Orville were given a toy "helicopter" by their father. The device was made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl its twin blades, and about a foot long. The boys played with it until it broke, then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying.

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Concorde at Heathrow
Concorde at Heathrow

Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde supersonic transport (SST), along with the Tupolev Tu-144, was one of only two models of supersonic passenger airliners to have seen commercial service.

Concorde had a cruise speed of Mach 2.02 (around 2170 km/h or 1,350 mph) and a maximum cruise altitude of 60,000 feet (18 300 metres) with a delta wing configuration and a reheat-equipped evolution of the engines originally developed for the Avro Vulcan strategic bomber. The engines were built by Rolls-Royce. Concorde was the first civil airliner to be equipped with an analogue fly-by-wire flight control system. Commercial flights, operated by British Airways and Air France, began on January 21, 1976 and ended on October 24, 2003, with the last "retirement" flight on November 26 that year.

Construction of the first two prototypes began in February 1965. Concorde 001 was built by Aerospatiale at Toulouse and Concorde 002 by BAC at Filton, Bristol. Concorde 001 took off for the first test flight from Toulouse on March 2, 1969 and the first supersonic flight followed on October 1. As the flight programme of the first development aircraft progressed, 001 started off on a sales and demonstration tour beginning on September 4, 1971. Concorde 002 followed suit on June 2, 1972 with a sales tour of the Middle and Far East. Concorde 002 made the first visit to the United States in 1973, landing at the new Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to commemorate its opening.

  • Span: 84 ft 0 in (25.6 m).
  • Length: 202 ft 4 in[2] (61.66 m)
  • Height: 40 ft 0 in (12.2 m )
  • Engines: 4× Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk 610 afterburning turbojets 170 kN each.
  • Cruising Speed: Mach 2.04 (1,350 mph, 2,170 km/h)
  • First Flight: March 2, 1969
  • Number built: 20 (including prototypes)

Today in Aviation

August 18

  • 2003 – A Polish Sukhoi Su-22M-4K, of 8 ELT, flying at 3000 meter (10,000 ft) altitude, during antiaircraft artillery exercises, is shot down at 1600 hrs. within the confines of the Wicko Morskie range, near Ustka by 2K12 Kub missile. Another account ascribes the downing merely to a "technical malfunction". The pilot, Lt. Col. Andrzej Andrzejewski, safely ejected and alighted in Baltic Sea 21 km (11 nmi) from the coast, and – after one-and-half hour spent in water – picked up by Mi-14PS SAR helicopter from Siemirowice Air Base. Andrzejewski will subsequently perish on 23 January 2008, CASA C-295 crash.
  • 1989 – A Qantas Boeing 747, (747-438), VH-OJA, City of Canberra, flies non-stop from London to Sydney, setting a world record for a four engine jet, after having flown 17,039.00 kilometers (10,587.54 miles) in 20 hours, 9 minutes, 5 seconds at an average speed of 845.58 kilometers per hour (525.42 miles per hour). FAI Record File Numbers 2201, 2202. This flight took place 16–17 August 1989.
  • 1988 – Aleksandr V. Shchukin, a test pilot for the eventually-scrapped Buran shuttle program, is killed when his Sukhoi Su-26M crashes this date.
  • 1974 – Lockheed C-141A Starlifter, 65-0274, of the 437th MAW, Charleston AFB, South Carolina, hits Mount Potosi at the 19,000 foot level, ~17 miles from destination, John F. Kennedy International Airport, La Paz, Bolivia, killing seven crew.
  • 1963 – Twin accidents aboard the USS Constellation (CV-64) kill three. First, an McDonnell F-4B-10-MC Phantom II, BuNo 149436, 'NK', of VF-143, snaps arresting cable during night landing, goes over the side, pilot Lt. Robert J. Craig, 31, of San Diego is lost with his unidentified RIO, three deck crew injured by whipping cable. Then several hours later, in unrelated accident, Missile Technician 2nd Class Robert William Negus, originally from Lompoc, California, is crushed by a missile, the Navy in San Diego reported.
  • 1951 – RCAF aerobatic team flying DH 100 Vampire fighters performed at the National Air Races in Detroit, Michigan.
  • 1951 – Boeing XB-47-BO Stratojet, 46-065, first prototype of two, stalls on landing, suffers major structural damage. No injuries. Another source cites date of 18 August 1950.
  • 1945 – Last U.S. air combat casualty of World War II occurs during mission 230 A-8, when two Consolidated B-32 Dominators of the 386th Bomb Squadron, 312th Bomb Group, launch from Yontan Airfield, Okinawa, for a photo reconnaissance run over Tokyo, Japan. Both bombers are attacked by several Japanese fighters of both the 302nd Air Group at Atsugi and the Yokosuka Air Group that make 10 gunnery passes. Japanese aces Sadamu Komachi and Saburo Sakai are part of this attack. B-32 piloted by 1st Lt. John R. Anderson, is hit at 20,000 feet, cannon fire knocks out number two (port inner) engine, and three crew are injured, including Sgt. Anthony J. Marchione, 19, of the 20th Reconnaissance Squadron, who takes 20 mm hit to the chest, dying 30 minutes later. Tail gunner Sgt. John Houston destroys one attacker. Lead bomber, Consolidated B-32-20-CF Dominator, 42-108532, "Hobo Queen II", piloted by 1st Lt. James Klein, is not seriously damaged but second Consolidated B-32-35-CF Dominator, 42-108578, loses engine, has upper turret knocked out of action, and loses partial rudder control. Both bombers land at Yontan Airfield just past ~1800 hrs. after surviving the last air combat of the Pacific war. The following day, propellers are removed from Japanese aircraft as part of surrender agreement. Marchione is buried on Okinawa on 19 August, his body being returned to his Pottstown, Pennsylvania home on 18 March 1949. He is interred in St. Aloysius Old Cemetery with full military honors. B-32, 42-108578, was scrapped at Kingman, Arizona after the war.
  • 1945 – Seven Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft make the last kamikaze attack of World War II.
  • 1944 – The U. S. Navy submarine USS Rasher (SS-269) torpedoes and sinks the Japanese aircraft carrier Taiyō off Cape Bolinao, Luzon, with the loss of 747 lives. There are over 400 survivors.
  • 1943 – RCAF contributed 74 aircraft to the RAF attack on the German rocket experimental facility at Peenemunde.
  • 1943 – Following a Royal Air Force bombing raid on the test facilities at Peenemünde on 17 August, the Messerschmitt Me 163B Komets of training unit EK 16 are moved to a new airfield at Anklam. The airframes are towed to the new location, with one Komet, suffering malfunctioning flap hydraulics, ferried by test pilot Paul Rudolf Opitz. After casting-off from the tow plane, the rocket fighter's landing skid fails to function, the airframe decelerates over a patch of rough and rutted ground at the end of the landing run following an otherwise normal approach. Pilot suffers two damaged vertebrae due to hard landing, spends three months in hospital. Investigation reveals that a force of 15 to 30Gs were required to cause this injury, and Me 163Bs are subsequently fitted with a torsion sprung seat for the pilot, eliminating this type of injury
  • 1942 – (Overnight) – Royal Air Force Bomber Command’s Pathfinder Force flies its first mission, with 31 Pathfinder aircraft attempting to mark the target – The German submarine base at Flensburg – For a main force of 87 bombers. The raid is a complete failure; Flensburg is untouched, and the aircraft scatter their bombs widely over the towns of Sønderborg and Aabenraa in Denmark. One Pathfinder aircraft and three other bombers fail to return.
  • 1941 – The Butt Report is issued. It reveals a widespread failure of Royal Air Force Bomber Command aircraft to deliver their payloads to the correct target.
  • 1941 – The U. S. Navy commissions Naval Air Station Midway at Midway Atoll.
  • 1932 – 18-19 – Jim Mollison makes the first solo East-to-West crossing of the Atlantic, flying a de Havilland Puss Moth from Dublin to New Brunswick
  • 1930 – Captain Wolfgang von Gronau and crew make the first east to west crossing of the Atlantic from Germany to New York.
  • 1926 – An Air Union Blériot 155 crashes while attempting an emergency landing at College Farm, Hurst, Aldington due to engine failure, killing 3 of 15 on board; the pilot initially survives, but dies a day later.
  • 1922 – Arthur Martens makes the first sailplane flight of over one hour at the Wasserkuppe. His aircraft, named Vampyr (“Vampire”) is designed by Wolfgang Klemmperer.
  • 1911 – The sole Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.1 crashes at Farnborough, pilot Lt. Theodore J. Ridge killed. Ridge was an inexperienced pilot, despite being Assistant Superintendent at the factory (who had only been awarded his Pilot's certificate the day before, and was described as "an absolutely indifferent flyer"). The combination of the unskilled pilot and the marginally controllable aircraft proved fatal - the S.E.1 stalled in a turn and spun in, killing Ridge. No further development of this one-off design undertaken.
  • 1903Karl Jatho makes a flight with his motored airplane in front of 4 people. His craft flies up to 200 feet (60 m) up to few yards/m above the ground in a powered heavier-than-air craft.
  • 1901 – At the invitation of Chanute, Wilbur Wright addresses the Western Society of Engineers in Chicago with a 10,000-word paper titled “Some Aeronautical Experiments. ”
  • 1871 – Alphonse Pénaud achieves the first flight of an inherently stable airplane when his Planophore is flown 131 feet 11 seconds before the Société de Navigation Aérienne in the Tuileries Gardens, Paris.
  • 1805 – First woman to pilot her own balloon: Sophie Blanchard, when she flew solo from the garden of the Cloister of the Jacobins in Toulouse.


  1. ^ Anonymous, "Philippine Minister's Body Found," The Washington Post, August 22, 2012, p. A8.