Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Brief History of Modern Aviation

It might be said that modern aviation began on November 21, 1783 in France when two brothers went aloft in a hot air balloon. The true beginning of the era is usually considered to be December 17, 1903 when the Wright Brothers flew the first heavier than air powered plane a few hundred feet off a sand dune at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This first plane could not fly much further because it was almost impossible to control it. In the next decade the wide spread use of ailerons made aircraft manageable and by the outbreak of World War I, aircraft had developed enough for the famous dogfights that took place during that war.

Although aircraft had come a long way during this time, they were not large enough to carry freight or passengers. A type of lighter than air craft called a dirigible was considered more practical for that purpose, and was seen as the future of aviation. By the mid 1930’s, the Douglas DC-3 was introduced and became the first practical airliner. At the end of the same decade, the Hindenburg Disaster ended the age of the dirigible.

Once again, it was a war that boosted the aviation age. World War II was a spur to a tremendous technological spurt in aviation. By the end of the war, we had large bombers and jet aircraft as well as rocket power. In the years after the war commercial airliners expanded rapidly connecting the entire world. The introduction of the Space Shuttle opened the idea of space as aviation’s next frontier.

Another area in which aviation has expanded recently is the area of personal aircraft. Pilot training has become available in small airports that provide the aviation supplies needed to service small personal aircraft. In addition to pilot training, the small airports sell pilot supplies and aircraft supplies such as the new models of David Clark headsets that provide communication while providing ear protection. It is possible to have your own plane kept in hangers in these small airports, or even to rent planes there.

In the coming years, aviation is expanding in two different directions. The first push is out into space, but the second area of expansion is the area of personal aircraft. In the years to come, it is possible that the day will arrive when a private aircraft is about as common as a privately owned motor vehicle and the globe will shrink a little more as more and more people take to the air.