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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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F-15, 71st Fighter Squadron, in flight.JPG
Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers [1]
Capt. Matt Buckner, an F-15 Eagle pilot assigned to the 71st Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., flies a combat air patrol mission Oct. 7 over Washington, D.C., in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

Did you know

...that five USAAF airmen were awarded the Medal of Honor following Operation Tidal Wave, a low-level bombing of Romanian oil refineries on 1 August 1943? ...that the Tenerife disaster remained the deadliest aircraft incident in history until the September 11, 2001 attacks and neither plane was in flight when the accident occurred. ...that the strategic bombing campaign used in the 1990 Operation Instant Thunder served as a model for subsequent American military conflicts?

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Selected biography

Amelia Earhart, c. 1928
Amelia Mary Earhart (July 24, 1897 – missing as of July 2, 1937), daughter of Edwin and Amy Earhart, was an American aviator and noted early female pilot who mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during a circumnavigational flight in 1937.

By 1919 Earhart had enrolled at Columbia University to study pre-med but quit a year later to be with her parents in California. Later in Long Beach she and her father went to a stunt-flying exhibition and the next day she went on a ten minute flight.

Earhart had her first flying lesson at Kinner Field near Long Beach. Her teacher was Anita Snook, a pioneer female aviator. Six months later Earhart purchased a yellow Kinner Airster biplane which she named "Canary". On October 22, 1922, she flew it to an altitude of 14,000 feet, setting a women's world record.

After Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, Amy Guest, a wealthy American living in London, England expressed interest in being the first woman to fly (or be flown) across the Atlantic Ocean, but after deciding the trip was too dangerous to make herself, she offered to sponsor the project, suggesting they find "another girl with the right image." While at work one afternoon in April 1928 Earhart got a phone call from a man who asked her, "Would you like to fly the Atlantic?"

Selected Aircraft

F-4E from 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron dropping 500 lb (230 kg) Mark 82 bombs

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic fighter-bomber originally developed for the U.S. Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. Proving highly adaptable, it became a major part of the air wings of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. It was used extensively by all three of these services during the Vietnam War, serving as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, as well as being important in the ground-attack and reconnaissance roles by the close of U.S. involvement in the war.

First entering service in 1960, the Phantom continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon in the U.S. Air Force; the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy; and the F/A-18 in the U.S. Marine Corps. It remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. The Phantom was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as an unmanned target in the U.S. Air Force.

Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built. This extensive run makes it the second most-produced Western jet fighter, behind the F-86 Sabre at just under 10,000 examples.

  • Span: 38 ft 4.5 in (11.7 m)
  • Length: 63 ft 0 in (19.2 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 6 in (5.0 m)
  • Engines: 2× General Electric J79-GE-17A axial compressor turbojets, 17,845 lbf (79.6 kN) each
  • Cruising Speed: 506 kn (585 mph, 940 km/h)
  • First Flight: 27 May 1958
  • Number built: 5,195

Today in Aviation

March 23

  • 2010 – Two Royal Air Force BAE Hawks, members of the Red Arrows aerobatic team were involved in a midair collision in airshow at Heraklion Crete. Pilot of one ejected and received moderate injuries. The aircraft crashed in the airfield and was destroyed. The second aircraft landed safely in Heraklion Airport.
  • 2010 – A Turkish Army Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk came down on the outskirts of Wardak town in Afghanistan at around 10:30. The crash happened as two Turkish helicopters were attempting to land at a Turkish-run Provincial Reconstruction Team.
  • 2009FedEx Express Flight 80, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 flying from Guangzhou, China crashes at Tokyo Narita International Airport, Japan; both the captain and the co-pilot of the plane are killed.
  • 2009 – A German Air Force Panavia Tornado PA-200, 45+37, from Jagdbombergeschwader 33 crashes on the runway at Büchel Air Force Base, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The aircraft, on a routine night training exercise, suffers extensive damage during the incident which occurs in high winds and rain, the two crew ejecting safely.
  • 2007 – Mogadishu TransAVIAexport Airlines Il-76 crash: A Transaviaexport Airlines Ilyushin IL-76 (EW-78849) is shot down after one of three missiles fired at it hits its wing after departure from Mogadishu Airport in Somalia, killing all 11 occupants. The aircraft had been there to recover salvageable parts from a fellow IL-76 (EW-78826) that received damage, but survived a missile attack.
  • 2005 – Baku Cargo Terminal was opened and started to operate.
  • 2005 – Airline Transport Flight 982, an Ilyushin IL-76 (ER-IBR ) crashes into the water beyond Mawanza Airport in Tanzania. Using a takeoff configuration for a weight almost 10 tons lighter than its actual weight, the aircraft is unable to maintain its climb and the pilots are unable to react appropriately in time. All 8 on-board are killed.
  • 2004 – First prototype Boeing X-50A Dragonfly Canard Rotor/Wing crashes at the United States Army Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, Arizona, during its third hover test flight. It had made its first flight on 4 December 2003.
  • 2003 – AH-64D Apache 85-25407 from C Company, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st Cavalry Division shot down during attack on Republican Guard; two pilots taken prisoner.[5] Helicopter was supposedly destroyed by Coalition forces, but Iraqi TV showed an AH-64 being taken to Baghdad on a low loader.
  • 2001 – A Luxor Egypt Boeing 707-300 (SU-BMV) is severely damaged during a hard landing at Monrovia-Roberts Airport in Liberia. Though all 182 occupants survive, the aircraft is written off.
  • 1994Aeroflot Flight 593, an Airbus A310, crashes into a wooded hillside in Siberia. All 75 passengers and crew are killed.
  • 1994Green Ramp Disaster: A mid-air collision between a Lockheed C-130 Hercules and an General Dynamics F-16D Fighting Falcon causes a ground crash at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. The F-16 hits and destroys a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter parked on the tarmac, and flaming wreckage careens into paratroopers preparing for a practice drop, killing 24 and injuring many more. The C-130 landed safely.
  • 1991 – An Aeroflot Antonov An-24 (CCCP-46472) overruns the runway while landing at Navoi Airport in Uzbekistan. The aircraft slams into a pile of concrete slabs and catches fire, killing 34 of the 63 aboard.
  • 1982 – A United States Air Force McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom II of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing crashed near Nellis AFB, both crew killed.
  • 1982 – An Eglin Air Force Base General Dynamics F-16B Block 5 Fighting Falcon, 78-0112, of the 4485th Test Squadron, crashed into a green at Rocky Bayou Country Club, near Niceville, Florida. The pilot had just finished a test bombing run over Eglin's Range 52 and lost power in the engine. The pilot was able to get the aircraft to an altitude of about 3,000 feet and a speed of between 285 mph and 345 mph before the engine gave out. The pilot, and a weapons officer decided to eject, expecting the F-16 to continue north and crash into a wooded area of the Eglin reservation. According to officer in charge of Eglin's safety office, the dual ejection caused the plane to roll to the right and slam into the golf course's sixth green, narrowly missing several homes. The two airmen landed on the 18th green and didn't suffer any major injuries. Air Force investigators were able to later watch the entire crash because a chase plane that had been photographing the test mission caught the crash on film. When F-16 experts recreated the accident they discovered a sequence of control switch moves that would restart an F-16 engine. The procedures were added to F-16 instruction manuals.
  • 1972 – An McDonnell F-101B Voodoo of the 119th Fighter Wing, North Dakota Air National Guard, crashes into the house of Gerald Reed at 1121 26th Street N, Fargo, North Dakota, killing pilot 1st Lt. Burton T. Humphrey, and injuring Mrs. Reed. Systems officer 2nd Lt. Sanford O. Borlaug ejects from the plane and survives with injuries.
  • 1971 – CFB Portage La Prairie received the CT-134 Muskateer.
  • 1967 – Worst ground aviation accident of Vietnam War occurs at Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam when traffic controller clears USMC Grumman A-6A Intruder, BuNo 152608, of VMA(AW)-242, MAG-11, for takeoff but also clears USAF Lockheed C-141A-LM Starlifter, 65-9407, of the 62nd Military Airlift Wing, McChord AFB, Washington, to cross runway. A-6 crew sees Starlifter at last moment, veers off runway to try to avoid it, but port wing slices through C-141's nose, which immediately catches fire, load of 72 acetylene gas cylinders ignite and causes tremendous explosion, only loadmaster escaping through rear hatch. Intruder overturns, skids on down runway on back, but both crew, Capt. Frederick Cone and Capt. Doug Wilson, survive, crawl out of smashed canopy after jet stops. Some of ordnance load of 16 X 500 lb. bombs and six rocket packs go off in ensuing fire. Military Airlift Command crew killed are Capt. Harold Leland Hale, Capt. Leroy Edward Leonard, Capt. Max Paul Starkel, S/Sgt. Alanson Garland Bynum, and S/Sgt. Alfred Funck. This is the first of two C-141s lost during the conflict, and one of only three strategic airlifters written off during the Vietnam War.
  • 1966 – First prototype LTV YA-7A-1-CV Corsair II, BuNo 152580, 'A-7A' on tail, rolls inverted while landing at Naval Air Facility China Lake, California, and crashes on golf course ~3 miles SE of approach end of the primary runway. Vought test pilot John Omvig was doing touch and goes and on the last one the A-7 began to roll and he ejected just before it rolled 90 degrees, with extremely low parachute deployment. The cause was pilot error when the hydraulic system was switched off (flight test configuration) and loss of control resulted. He will later be killed in the XC-142A, 62-5921, crash on 10 May 1967 near Dallas, Texas.
  • 1965 – Argus 20727 crashed on a night ASW exercise near Puerto Rico, killing all 16 on board.
  • 1965 – Gemini 3, the US’s first two-man spaceflight, launches. The spacecraft makes three orbits over 4 hours before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean not far from Turks and Caicos. Astronauts Virgil Grissom and John Young are reprimanded upon returning home after one of them brings a corned beef sandwich aboard, as the crumbs could have damaged flight systems.
  • 1965- A Royal Canadian Air Force Canadair CP-107 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico during a night exercise, killing all 15 on board. 1942 – AVM E. W. Stedman named Director General of Air Research.
  • 1964 – Armstrong Whitworth Argosy C.1, XP413, of 105 Squadron, deployed to RAF Khormaksar, Aden, ditches in the Aden harbour whilst on finals to the easterly runway at Khormaksar, when, during crew training, the number four (starboard outer) engine was shut down for practice. Due to confusion in the cockpit, the crew managed to shut down both starboard engines without feathering either and the Argosy comes down with remarkably little damage, settling on its undercarriage in about 5 feet (1.5 m.) of water. Hauled onto dry land, it is eventually shipped back to the UK by boat, refurbished by Hawker Siddeley, and returned to duty.
  • 1961 – Valentin V. Bondarenko, a Soviet Air Force pilot selected for cosmonaut training in 1960, dies while training in a ground-based spacecraft simulator. Fire broke out in the capsule, which was filled with a pure oxygen atmosphere, and he was unable to escape, a grim parallel to the 1967 Apollo 1 accident.
  • 1951 – A United States Air Force Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, 49-244, c/n 43173, of the 2d Strategic Support Squadron, Strategic Air Command, en route from Gander, Newfoundland to RAF Mildenhall, missing over the Atlantic Ocean; wreckage found near Ireland. 53 went MIA, including Gen. Paul T. Cullen and his command staff, en route to his headquarters of the newly activated 7th Air Division, SAC, at South Ruislip, London, England. Cullen had been deputy commander of Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The crew and passengers survived the water landing and were observed in the water, but none were recovered after an extensive search. It has been speculated that they may have been captured by Soviet naval forces.
  • 1946 – The Royal Netherlands Navy commissions its first aircraft carrier, the escort carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman (QH1). Formerly the British carrier HMS Nairana, she will serve until replaced in 1948 by the fleet carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81).
  • 1945 – (March 23 – April 1) Task Force 58 conducts strikes on Okinawa and vicinity.
  • 1945 – The British Pacific Fleet, centered around the aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable, HMS Victorious, HMS Illustrious, and HMS Indefatigable, departs Ulithi Atoll to begin operations as Task Force 57 of the United States Fifth Fleet.
  • 1944 – Consolidated B-24J-25-CO Liberator, 42-73228,[250] of the 3330th Combat Crew Training Squadron, on training mission out of Biggs Field, Texas, crashes into the eastern slope of Franklin Mountain near El Paso, Texas, at 2240 hrs. during routine training flight. Seven crewmen are killed in the crash: 1st Lt. Lyle R. Jensen, Big Springs, Nebraska, whose wife was in El Paso; 2nd Lt. Benjamin C. Fricke, Indianapolis, Indiana; 2nd Lt. Robert Spears, Indianapolis; 2nd Lt. Donald B. Harris, Deming, New Mexico; Staff Sgt. Richard I. Stoney, Stoneham, Massachusetts; Sgt. William T. Hinson, Norwood, North Carolina; and Sgt. John H. House, Black River, New York
  • 1943 – A Republic P-47C-2-RE Thunderbolt, 41-6292, of the 328th Fighter Squadron, 352d Fighter Group, crashes into Barnard Hall at Hofstra College shortly after take-off from Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York, early this date, hitting the west side near the roof, setting the building afire, police announced. Pilot Earl D. Hayward died. The blaze was brought under control within 45 minutes by firemen from Hempstead, East Hempstead and Uniondale. No students were in the vicinity at the time. The Eastern Defense Command in New York City announced that the pilot was killed. He had taken off from Mitchel Field on a training mission shortly before the crash.
  • 1943 – Waco UC-72A, 42-68676, c/n 5150, Civilian Model ARE, ex-NC29376, impressed by USAAF, flown by Roy F. Brown, of the 5th Ferrying Squadron, 3rd Ferrying Group, out of Romulus Army Airfield, Michigan, is wrecked at Hebron, Kentucky.
  • 1942 – North American B-25B Mitchell, 40-2291, piloted by 1st Lt. James P. Bates, crashes on take-off from Auxiliary Field No. 3, Eglin Field, Florida, during training for the planned Doolittle Raid on Japan. This aircraft did not participate in the mission. Bates deployed with the Raiders aboard the USS Hornet but did not fly the mission.
  • 1942 – (23-26) Fliegerkorps II dedicates 326 aircraft to the destruction of the four Allied cargo ships that have arrived at Malta, sinking three of them and a destroyer and damaging one of them.
  • 1942 – (23-26) Fliegerkorps II begins attacks on Malta’s submarine base, sinking the British submarine HMS P39 and damaging two other submarines. From this time, submarines at Malta submerge all day while in port.
  • 1936Arado Ar 65, Werk Nr. 111, D-2912 / D-IVYZ, of III/JG, crashes during aerobatics at too low altitude - left wing failed. Pilot killed.
  • 1932 – Flying a Bleriot 110, French aviators Lucien Bossoutrot and Maurice Rossi take off for a record closed-circuit distance of 6,587.442 miles at Oran, Algeria.
  • 1921 – In an all-night training flight, a U.S. Navy free balloon, A-5597, launches from NAS Pensacola, Florida, with five crew and drifts over the Gulf of Mexico. Two messages received by pigeon indicate it first is 20 miles from St. Andrews Bay, then that all ballast had been dropped and that it was at 100 feet and descending. On 8 April 1921, a fishing vessel finds the balloon floating on the sea, with the gondola three and a half fathoms under water. Nothing is ever found of Chief Quartermaster E. W. Wilkinson, enlisted men R. V. Wyland, E. L. Kershaw, and J. P. Elder, and Marine Corps member W. H. Tressey.
  • 1921 – Lawrence Sperry flew and landed the first airplane at the U. S. Capitol, in a Sperry Messenger.
  • 1921 – US Army Lieutenant Arthur Hamilton sets a new world record when he jumps by parachute from 24,400 feet (7,400 m).
  • 1908 – French industrialist Lazare Weiller signs a contract with the Wrights establishing a Wright airplane company in France, on condition that the brothers make two demonstration flights covering 50 km (31.1 miles) within an hour’s flying time. They will receive FF500, 000 and half the founders’ share
  • 1903 – The Wright brothers file an application for a patent for an airplane based on the design of their Glider No. 3.


  1. ^ "Syrian pilot rejects orders to kill protesters, heads to Turkey: opposition". Al Arabiya. 24 March 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  2. ^ Staff (22 March 2011). "Libya Live Blog – 23 March. Al Jazeera. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  3. ^ Ward, Victoria; Spillius, Alex; Squires, Nick (23 March 2011). "Libya: Gaddafi Compound Attacked After Air Force 'Destroyed'. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Libyan Air Force 'No Longer Exists'". Al Jazeera. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  5. ^ "Iraq Shot down US F/A-18 Hornet, Black Hawk Helicopter". People's Daily Online. 2003-03-23. Retrieved 2009-01-30.