Man’s dream to be free as a bird in the sky has been around for quite some time. Ever since the myth of Icarus and Daedalus in which they flew away from the island of Crete with feathered wings held together with wax. The pioneers of aviation were thought to be a little crazy or “crackpots”. The Wright Brother’s were persistent and they toiled until they perfected a heavier-than-air, controllable flying machine. The great aviation hero and pioneer Charles Lindbergh promoted aviation and air travel in his early life. The air routes that airlines use today are a direct result of his work.
The technology of what an airplane is made of has gone from the days of wood, cloth and wires to high-tech composites for the wings, body and tail assemblies to exotic metals for the jet engines. To give an idea of how far aviation has progressed, the top speed of the Wright Flyer in 1903 was 10mph. The top speed of the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” spy plane was well over 2,200mph. This is in a time span of less than 80 years.
There are also many unsung heroes in aviation. They are many and varied such as airline ticket clerks, baggage handlers and the people you never see such as the Air Traffic Controller in the Tower. They are the technicians and mechanics that maintain and repair aircraft. They are the skilled workers that manufacture aircraft and engines and all of the various assemblies and components they are comprised of.
Aviation has many facets such as military aviation, commercial aviation, general aviation, sport aviation, and rotary aviation.
Military aviation has had explosive growth (no pun intended).In military aviation the armed forces have used aircraft in many conflicts, such as (and this is not a complete list): Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf Wars (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), Bosnian War, Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom), and the Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom).
In civil or commercial aviation airlines have gone from aircraft that had luxurious accommodations such as sleeping berths (similar to trains) in the late 1930’s to an airplane today called the Airbus A380 that can hold a maximum of 853 people in an economy class configuration.
In general aviation we have gone from airplanes with cloth covered wings to small jets with wings made out of composite materials. And from open cockpit aircraft to cockpits with color radar displays for weather and GPS navigation equipment.
Air Racing and participating in Air Shows are just two of things that comprise sport aviation.
Aviation has made the world smaller and the technology spin-offs from aviation are many and varied. Automobiles are more aerodynamic and fuel efficient due to the research done in aviation.
Aviation is amazing in my humble opinion.