aviation

New Zealand’s Aviation Pioneer Richard Pearse

New Zealand’s Aviation Pioneer Richard Pearse

On July 29, 1953, New Zealand farmer, inventor and aviation pioneer Richard William Pearse passed away. It is claimed Pearse flew and landed a powered heavier-than-air machine on 31 March 1903, some nine months before the Wright brothers flew their aircraft. The documentary evidence to support such a claim remains open to interpretation, and Pearse did not develop his aircraft to the same degree as the Wright brothers, who achieved…
Aviation Pioneer Sir Geoffrey De Havilland

Aviation Pioneer Sir Geoffrey De Havilland

On July 27, 1882, British aviation pioneer and aircraft engineer. Sir Geoffrey De Havilland was born. In 1909, he constructed his first machine and through trial and error and taught himself to fly. His Mosquito has been considered the most versatile warplane ever built. In 1943, he was one of the first to make jet-propelled aircraft, producing the Vampire jet fighter. De Havilland led the world in entering the era…
Robert Cocking’s Parachuting Accident

Robert Cocking’s Parachuting Accident

On July 24, 1837, watercolour artist and amateur scientist Robert Cocking died in an early aviation accident. Cocking was the first person to be killed in a parachuting accident. Following Cocking’s accident parachuting became unpopular, and was confined to carnival and circus acts until the late 19th century when developments such as the harness and breakaway chutes made it safer. Robert Cocking as a watercolor artist who had also developed an…
Alberto Santos-Dumont – the Brazilian Father of Aviation

Alberto Santos-Dumont – the Brazilian Father of Aviation

On July 20, 1873, Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont was born. Santos-Dumont designed, built, and flew hot air balloons and early dirigibles, his rising fame in this field culminating in his winning of the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize on 19 October 1901 on a flight that rounded the Eiffel Tower. Santos-Dumont then constructed a heavier-than-air aircraft, the 14-bis, in which on 23 October 1906, he made the first powered…
Theodore von Kármán and his Advances in Aerodynamics

Theodore von Kármán and his Advances in Aerodynamics

On May 11, 1881, Hungarian-American mathematician, aerospace engineer and physicist Theodore von Kármán was born. Kármán was active primarily in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He is responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization. Theodore von Kármán studied engineering at the Budapest’s Royal Joseph Technical University. He then moved to Germany joining Ludwig Prandtl at the University of Göttingen. There, Kármán received his…
The Ryan X-13 VertiJet

The Ryan X-13 VertiJet

On April 11, 1957, the Ryan X-13 VertiJet completed its first full-cycle flight at Edwards Air Force Base. The Ryan X-13 VertiJet was one of the first experimental vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircrafts powered by jet engines. The main objective of the project was to demonstrate the ability of a pure jet to vertically takeoff, hover, transition to horizontal forward flight, and vertically land. The Ryan Aeronautical Company was…
Traian Vuia’s Flight Experiments

Traian Vuia’s Flight Experiments

On March 18, 1906, the flying machine of Romanian inventor Traian Vuia lifted briefly to a powered hop of 11 metres. Though unsuccessful in sustained flight, Vuia‘s invention influenced Louis Blériot in designing monoplanes. In difference to the flying machine of the Wright brothers that made first motor powered flight in December 1903 [2], Vuia‘s machine had the capability to take off from a flat surface, without assistance such as…
James Sadler – the First English Aeronaut

James Sadler – the First English Aeronaut

On February 27, 1753, English chemist, pastry chef, and aviation pioneer James Sadler was born. He is best known for being the first English aeronaut, whose first successful ascent was on 4 Oct 1784, in a hot-air balloon, from Christ Church Meadow, Oxford. James Sadler was the second known person in England to achieve an ascent in a balloon after Tuscan Vincent Lunardi, who premiered on 15 September 1784. Sadler…
Hugo Junkers and the all-metal monoplane

Hugo Junkers and the all-metal monoplane

On February 3, 1859, German engineer and aircraft designer Hugo Junkers was born. Junkers is generally credited with pioneering the design of all-metal airplanes and flying wings. As founder of the Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG, he was one of the mainstays of the German aircraft industry in the years between World War I and World War II. Amongst the highlight of his career were the Junkers J 1 of…
Lawrence Hargrave and the Box Kite

Lawrence Hargrave and the Box Kite

On January 29, 1850, Australian engineer, explorer, astronomer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer Lawrence Hargrave was born. Hargrave “flew” on 12 Nov 1894, by attaching himself to a huge four kite construction attached to the ground by piano wire. Due to their abilities to carry heavy payloads, steady flight, and capacity for high altitude flight, these kites have had many industrial and military uses. Hargrave was born in Greenwich, England, the…
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