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Aviation is 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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Traditional general aviation fixed-wing light aircraft, the most numerous class of aircraft in the sector
Traditional general aviation fixed-wing light aircraft, the most numerous class of aircraft in the sector
General aviation in the United Kingdom has been defined as a civil aircraft operation other than a commercial air transport flight operating to a schedule. Although the International Civil Aviation Organization excludes any form of remunerated aviation from its definition, some commercial operations are often included within the scope of general aviation in the UK. The sector operates business jets, rotorcraft, piston and jet-engined fixed-wing aircraft, gliders of all descriptions, and lighter than air craft. Public transport operations include business (or corporate) aviation and air taxi services, and account for nearly half of the economic contribution made by the sector. There are 28,000 Private Pilot Licence holders, and 10,000 certified glider pilots. Although GA operates from more than 1,800 aerodromes and landing sites, ranging in size from large regional airports to farm strips, over 80 per cent of GA activity is conducted at 134 of the larger aerodromes. GA is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, although regulatory powers are being increasingly transferred to the European Aviation Safety Agency. The main focus is on standards of airworthiness and pilot licensing, and the objective is to promote high standards of safety. (Full article...)
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USAF F-15C fires AIM-7 Sparrow 2.jpg
Credit: Master Sgt. Michael Ammons, USAF
The F-15 Eagle is an American-built all-weather tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. As of 2005, the F-15 in all air forces has a combined kill record of 104 confirmed kills to zero losses in air combat, although some F-15s have been claimed by surface-to-air missiles.

Did you know

...that in the late 1940s the USAF Northrop YB-49 set both an unofficial endurance record and a transcontinental speed record? ...that the airfields captured in the battle of Tinian were used for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? ... that the first exhibition at the Boeing Galleries was a series of photographs taken from helicopters and hot air balloons?

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Wiley Post.jpg
Wiley Hardeman Post (November 22, 1898 – August 15, 1935) was the first pilot to fly solo around the world. Also known for his work in high altitude flying, Post helped develop one of the first pressure suits. His plywood aircraft, the Winnie Mae[1] is on display at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, and his pressure suit is being prepared for display at the same location. On August 15, 1935, Post and American humorist Will Rogers were killed when Post's plane crashed on takeoff from a lagoon near Point Barrow, Alaska.

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Me109 G-6 D-FMBB 1.jpg

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the early 1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as an all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. The Bf 109 was produced in greater quantities than any other fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Fighter production totalled 47% of all German aircraft production, and the Bf 109 accounted for 57% of all German fighter types produced.

The Bf 109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force in World War II, although it began to be partially replaced by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 from 1941. The Bf 109 was the most successful fighter of World War II, shooting down more aircraft than any of its contemporaries. Originally conceived as an interceptor, it was later developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter bomber, day-, night- all-weather fighter, bomber destroyer, ground-attack aircraft, and as reconnaissance aircraft.

The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of World War II: Erich Hartmann, the top scoring fighter pilot of all time with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories, and Günther Rall with 275 victories. All of them flew with Jagdgeschwader 52, a unit which exclusively flew the Bf 109 and was credited with over 10,000 victories, chiefly on the Eastern Front. Hartmann chose to fly the Bf 109 in combat throughout the war, despite being offered the use of the Me 262. Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest scoring German ace in the North African Campaign, also scored all of his 158 victories flying the Bf 109, against Western Allied pilots.

  • Span: 9.925 m (32 ft 6 in)
  • Length: 8.95 m (29 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 2.60 m (8 ft 2 in)
  • Engine: 1× Daimler-Benz DB 605A-1 liquid-cooled inverted V12, 1,475 PS (1,455 hp, 1,085 kW)
  • Cruising Speed: 590 km/h (365 mph) at 6,000 m (19,680 ft)
  • First Flight: 28 May 1935

Today in Aviation

June 18

  • 2013 – A tornado passes between Runways 34R and 34L at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado, passing 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) east of the airport's A gates, causing thousands of people to take cover in stairwells, restrooms, and other safe areas. The anemometer at the airport's weather station records a peak wind gust of 97 mph (156 km/h) before breaking. Nine flights are diverted to other airports during the 40-minute tornado warning.[2][3]
  • 2009 – An Indian Air Force Mikoyan MiG-21 Bison from the Chabua Air Force Station, Assam, India crashes due to a technical fault while on a routine training flight, the pilot successfully ejecting from the aircraft.
  • 2004 – Airblue flies its first flight, a private airline in Pakistan
  • 1986Grand Canyon Airlines Flight 6, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, collides with a Bell 206 helicopter over the Tonto Plateau, killing all 25 on board both aircraft.
  • 1983 – Launch: Space shuttle Challenger STS-7 at 11:33:00 UTC. Mission highlights: First US woman in space Sally Ride; Multiple comsat deployments; First deployment and retrieval of a satellite SPAS.
  • 1972British European Airways Flight 548, a Hawker Siddeley Trident, undergoes a series of stalls as a result of pilot error, followed by a deep stall, crashing near Staines, United Kingdom; all 118 on board are killed.
  • 1972 – General Dynamics F-111A, 67-0082, c/n A1-127, crashes near Eglin AFB, Florida, shortly after takeoff. Lost control after an external fuel fire and explosion. Unsuccessful ejection, crew killed.
  • 1965 – Lockheed NF-104A Starfighter, 56-0756, c/n 183-1044, assigned to Air Force Systems Command Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, California, suffers rocket oxidizer explosion this date, blowing off portion of the tail, pilot landed safely. Repaired and flown again.
  • 1965 – On the very first Operation Arc Light mission flown by Boeing B-52 Stratofortress aircraft of SAC to hit a target in South Vietnam, a total of 30 B-52Fs depart Andersen AFB, Guam just after midnight, flying in ten cells of three aircraft, to hit a suspected Viet Cong stronghold in the Bến Cát District, 40 miles N of Saigon. Unexpected tailwinds from a typhoon cause the bombers to arrive seven minutes early at their refuelling point with KC-135 tankers over the South China Sea at a point between South Vietnam and the island of Luzon. The three planes of Green Cell, in the lead, begin a 360 degree turn to make their rendezvous, and in doing so cross the path of Blue Cell and directly towards oncoming Yellow Cell. In the darkness, Boeing B-52F-105-BO Stratofortress, 57-0047, and Boeing B-52F-70-BW Stratofortress, 57-0179, both of the 441st Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing, attached to the 3960th Strategic Wing, collide, killing eight crew, with four survivors, plus one body recovered. The four are located and picked up by an HU-16A-GR Albatross amphibian, 51-5287 (?), but it is damaged on take-off by a heavy sea state and those on board have to transfer to a Norwegian freighter and a Navy vessel, the Albatross sinking thereafter. Another B-52 loses a hydraulic pump and radar, cannot rendezvous with the tankers and aborts to Okinawa. Twenty-seven Stratofortresses drop on a one-mile by two-mile target box from between 19,000 and 22,000 feet, a little more than 50 percent of the bombs falling within the target zone. The force returns to Andersen except for one bomber with electrical problems that recovers to Clark AFB, the mission having lasted 13 hours. Post-strike assessment by teams of South Vietnamese troops with American advisors find evidence that the VC had departed the area before the raid, and it is suspected that infiltration of the south's forces have tipped off the north because of the ARVN troops involved in the post-strike inspection.
  • 1962 – To reduce the chances of Viet Cong forces slipping away from large South Vietnamese ground units by fleeing operations areas in small groups, U. S. Marine Corps helicopters operating in South Vietnam begin to use the “Eagle Flight” tactic, in which Marine transport helicopters circle contested areas and drop off South Vietnamese troops when and where they are needed to block escaping Viet Cong forces. It will become a proven tactic by the middle of July.
  • 1953 – A United States Air Force Douglas C-124A Globemaster II, 51-0137, c/n 43471, crashes at Kodaira, Japan after engine failure on take-off at Tachikawa Air Force Base, Tokyo, Japan. 129 die, making this the deadliest recorded disaster in aviation history at the time.
  • 1951 – An infamous day in the history of RAF Biggin Hill when three Gloster Meteors and their pilots are killed in accidents, all three crashing in an area of about 100 yards. The first, a Mk.8 piloted by Flight Lieutenant Gordon McDonald of 41 Squadron, crashed shortly after take off, corkscrewing as pieces of structure fell from the aircraft. The aircraft hit a bungalow killing the pilot. The jet wash of his flight leader was named as a possible cause. Within seconds of this accident two Mk.4 Meteors of 600 Sqn, piloted by Sergeant Kenneth Clarkson and Squadron Leader Phillip Sandeman, both circling over the wreckage and preparing to land, collided at 2,000 feet (610 m) above the scene. Although Sandeman managed to bail out he was killed when his parachute failed to open. Clarkson was killed in his aircraft. A week after this incident, another Meteor overshot the runway, narrowly missing passing cars. After these incidents, several residents stated they would be "selling up" and there were calls for traffic lights to be sited on the Bromley road for use during take-offs and landings. Princess Elizabeth, soon to be Queen Elizabeth II, was visiting the base on this day.
  • 1940 – The last deployed element of the RAF’s Advanced Air Striking Force – some Hurricane fighters – withdraws from France and the Channel Islands to the United Kingdom.
  • 1939 – The first direct transatlantic seaplane service is begun by Pan American Airways. It flies from New York to Southampton, England, by way of Botwood, Newfoundland, and Foynes, Ireland.
  • 1935 – The Seversky SEV-2XP is heavily damaged (perhaps intentionally) while en route to Wright Field, Ohio, for the 1935 U.S. Army Air Corps competition for a new single-seat fighter. The two-seat design is reworked into a single-seater with retractable undercarriage when the Air Corps delays the competition until April 1936.
  • 1928 – A Latham 47 flying boat carrying Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen and five others on a flight to search for survivors of the Italian airship Italia disappears. Their bodies are never found.
  • 1922 – The first soaring flight of one hour in slope lift (using hill currents) is made by Arthur Martens in a Vampyr sailplane designed by Wolfgang Klemmperer at the Wasserkuppe, Rhön, Germany.
  • 1920 – The first aircraft were taken on strength by the Canadian Air Force. They were four Avro 504 ks, registered G-CYAA to G-CYAD.
  • 1916 – First German ace Max Immelmann (17 victories) is killed at ~2215 hrs. when his Fokker E.III monoplane, 246-16, crashes after breaking up in the air when the interrupter gear malfunctions and he shoots away his own propeller. He had been engaging an F.E.2b piloted by 2nd Lt. G. R. Gubbin with Cpl. J. H. Waller as gunner. Gubbin and Waller were credited with the victory, but another theory posits that Immelmann may have taken hits from friendly AAA, as the propeller failure would not necessarily have caused the complete airframe disintegration that occurred.
  • 1877 – Samuel Archer King makes a two-hour airmail flight of 26 miles between Nashville and Gallatin, Tennessee, in the balloon Buffalo.
  • 1861 – Thaddeus S. C. Lowe transmits the first telegraphic message ever sent from a balloon during a test at the Columbia Armory, Washington, D. C.