aviation

Salomon August Andrée’s Ill Fated Polar Balloon Expedition

Salomon August Andrée’s Ill Fated Polar Balloon Expedition

On October 18, 1854, Swedish engineer, physicist, aeronaut and polar explorer Salomon August Andrée was born. Andrée died while leading an attempt to reach the Geographic North Pole by hydrogen balloon. The balloon expedition was unsuccessful in reaching the Pole and resulted in the deaths of all three of its participants. Salomon Auguste Andrée attended the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1874. Two years…
Arthur Whitten Brown and the First Transatlantic Flight

Arthur Whitten Brown and the First Transatlantic Flight

On July 23, 1886, Scottish aviator  Sir Arthur Whitten Brown was born. Whitten Brown was the navigator of the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight in in June 1919 together with Sir John Alcock, who piloted the modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. Arthur Whitten Brown was apprenticed with British Westinghouse in Manchester. He enlisted in the ranks of the University and…
John Glenn – The First American to orbit the Earth

John Glenn – The First American to orbit the Earth

On July 18, 1921, U.S. astronaut and statesman John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born. In 1962 Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times. Before joining NASA, Glenn was a distinguished fighter pilot in World War II and Korea. In 1998, still a sitting senator, Glenn was the oldest person to fly in space as a crew member of the Discovery space shuttle and the…
Hugh L. Dryden and High Speed Aerodynamics

Hugh L. Dryden and High Speed Aerodynamics

On July 2, 1898, physicist and deputy administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Hugh Latimer Dryden was born. Dryden made pioneering studies in the aerodynamics of high speed and some of the earliest studies of air flow around wing surfaces at the speed of sound. Hugh Latimer Dryden was born in Pocomoke City, Maryland, the son of Samuel Isaac Dryden, a school teacher, and his wife Zenovia Hill Culver…
The Aircraft Designs of Willy Messerschmitt

The Aircraft Designs of Willy Messerschmitt

On June 26, 1898, German aircraft designer and manufacturer Wilhelm Emil “Willy” Messerschmitt was born. Probably Messerschmitt’s single most important design was the Messerschmitt Bf 109, designed in 1934 with the collaboration of Walter Rethel. The Bf 109 became the most important fighter in the Luftwaffe as Germany rearmed prior to World War II. To this day, it remains one of the most-produced warplanes in history, with some 34,000 built.…
The Rotary Plane of Engelbert Zaschka

The Rotary Plane of Engelbert Zaschka

On June 19, 1926, German engineer, designer aviation pioneer Engelbert Zaschka filed a patent on his “Hubschraubenflugzeug” (Zaschka Rotary-Wing Airplane), a predecessor of today’s helicopter. He also constructed a large human-powered aircraft and produced some interesting unorthodox designs for automobils and motorcycles. Engelbert Zaschka grew up in a family of musucians. His father taught music and was part of the Freiburg city orchestra and his mother was a singer. However, Zaschka…
Alan Arnold Griffith and the Turbojet Engine

Alan Arnold Griffith and the Turbojet Engine

On June 13, 1883, British engineer Alan Arnold Griffith was born. Griffith is best known for his work on stress and fracture in metals that is now known as metal fatigue, as well as being one of the first to develop a strong theoretical basis for the jet engine. Griffith‘s advanced axial-flow turbojet engine designs, were integral in the creation of Britain‘s first operational axial-flow turbojet engine in 1941. Alan Arnold Griffith…
The Aircraft of R. J. Mitchell

The Aircraft of R. J. Mitchell

On May 20, 1895, English aeronautical engineer and aircraft designer Reginald Joseph Mitchell was born. Mitchell worked for Supermarine Aviation. Between 1920 and 1936 he designed many aircraft and is best remembered for his racing seaplanes, which culminated in the Supermarine S.6B, and the iconic Second World War fighter, the Supermarine Spitfire. R.J. Mitchell joined the Supermarine Aviation Works at Southampton in 1917. Two years later, he was appointed Chief Designer,…
Walter Schirra – the only Man to fly Mercury, Gemini and Apollo

Walter Schirra – the only Man to fly Mercury, Gemini and Apollo

On March 12, 1923, American naval officer and aviator, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, and astronaut Walter Marty “Wally” Schirra was born. Schirra was one of the original seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury, United States first effort to put humans in space. He flew the six-orbit, nine-hour Mercury-Atlas 8 mission on October 3, 1962, becoming the fifth American, and the ninth human, to ride a rocket into space. He was the…
The Aircraft of Kelly Johnson

The Aircraft of Kelly Johnson

On February 27, 1910, American aeronautical and systems engineer Kelly Johnson was born. He is recognized for his contributions to a series of important aircraft designs, most notably the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird. Besides the first production aircraft to exceed Mach 3, he also produced the first fighter capable of Mach 2, and many other contributions to a large number of aircraft. Clarence Leonard Johnson was enthusiastic for aircraft…
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