aviation

The Flight of Alan Shepard

The Flight of Alan Shepard

On November 18, 1923, American naval officer and aviator, test pilot, and astronaut Alan B. Shepard was born. Shepard was one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts. In May 1961, Shepard made the first manned Mercury flight. Shepard’s craft entered space, but did not achieve orbit. He became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space, and the first person to manually control the orientation of…
French Aviation Pioneer Robert Esnault-Pelterie

French Aviation Pioneer Robert Esnault-Pelterie

On November 8, 1881, French aviation pioneer Robert Albert Charles Esnault-Pelterie was born. Esnault-Pelterie improved the design of the Wright brothers 1902 glider and invented the aileron, a movable airfoil at the edge of the wing. In 1907, he built one of the first monoplanes, and proposed the idea of the ballistic missile for military bombardment. Robert Esnault-Pelterie was born on November 8, 1881 in Paris as the son of a…
The Flight of the Double Eagle II

The Flight of the Double Eagle II

On August 17, 1978, Double Eagle II became the first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it landed in Miserey near Paris, 137 hours 6 minutes after leaving Presque Isle, Maine. The flight, the fourteenth known attempt, was the culmination of more than a century of previous attempts to cross the Atlantic Ocean by balloon. In 1859, John Wise, US-American pioneer in the field of ballooning, who made over…
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…
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