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The Boeing 747, one of the most iconic aircraft in history.

Aviation, or air transport, refers to the activities surrounding mechanical flight and the aircraft industry. Aircraft includes fixed-wing and rotary-wing types, morphable wings, wing-less lifting bodies, as well as lighter-than-air craft such as balloons and airships.

Aviation began in the 18th century with the development of the hot air balloon, an apparatus capable of atmospheric displacement through buoyancy. Some of the most significant advancements in aviation technology came with the controlled gliding flying of Otto Lilienthal in 1896; then a large step in significance came with the construction of the first powered airplane by the Wright brothers in the early 1900s. Since that time, aviation has been technologically revolutionized by the introduction of the jet which permitted a major form of transport throughout the world.

Selected article

A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. Due to the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the term zeppelin in casual use came to refer to all rigid airships. The German defeat in World War I halted the business temporarily, but under the guidance of Hugo Eckener, the successor of the deceased count, civilian Zeppelins experienced a renaissance in the 1920s. They reached their zenith in the 1930s, when the airships LZ127 "Graf Zeppelin" and LZ129 "Hindenburg" profitably operated regular transatlantic passenger flights. The Hindenburg disaster in 1937 triggered the fall of the "giants of the air", though other factors, including political issues, contributed to the demise.

Selected image

P-51 Mustang edit1.jpg
Credit: Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker (USAF)

A P-51 Mustang in a heritage flight during an airshow at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, USA. The P-51 was a long-range single-seat fighter aircraft that entered service with Allied air forces in the middle years of World War II. It remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s.

...Archive/Nominations

Did you know

...that five USAAF airmen were awarded the Medal of Honor following Operation Tidal Wave, a low-level bombing of Romanian oil refineries on 1 August 1943? ...that Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney was only twenty-eight years old when he helped found Pan American World Airways? ... that Teddy Air was the first airline to win a public service obligation in Norway?

Selected Aircraft

Me109 G-6 D-FMBB 1.jpg

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the early 1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as an all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. The Bf 109 was produced in greater quantities than any other fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Fighter production totalled 47% of all German aircraft production, and the Bf 109 accounted for 57% of all German fighter types produced.

The Bf 109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force in World War II, although it began to be partially replaced by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 from 1941. The Bf 109 was the most successful fighter of World War II, shooting down more aircraft than any of its contemporaries. Originally conceived as an interceptor, it was later developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter bomber, day-, night- all-weather fighter, bomber destroyer, ground-attack aircraft, and as reconnaissance aircraft.

The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of World War II: Erich Hartmann, the top scoring fighter pilot of all time with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories, and Günther Rall with 275 victories. All of them flew with Jagdgeschwader 52, a unit which exclusively flew the Bf 109 and was credited with over 10,000 victories, chiefly on the Eastern Front. Hartmann chose to fly the Bf 109 in combat throughout the war, despite being offered the use of the Me 262. Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest scoring German ace in the North African Campaign, also scored all of his 158 victories flying the Bf 109, against Western Allied pilots.

  • Span: 9.925 m (32 ft 6 in)
  • Length: 8.95 m (29 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 2.60 m (8 ft 2 in)
  • Engine: 1× Daimler-Benz DB 605A-1 liquid-cooled inverted V12, 1,475 PS (1,455 hp, 1,085 kW)
  • Cruising Speed: 590 km/h (365 mph) at 6,000 m (19,680 ft)
  • First Flight: 28 May 1935
...Archive/Nominations

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Selected biography

Benjamin Delahauf Foulois in flying helmet.jpg
Benjamin Delahauf Foulois (1879-1967) was an early aviation pioneer who rose to become a chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps. The son of a French immigrant, he was born and raised in Connecticut. He enlisted in the Army at age 18 to serve in the Spanish–American War. After just a few month he was separated because of disease he had picked up in Puerto Rico. He re-enlisted in 1899 and was sent to the Philippines where he received a commission as a Second Lieutenant. Foulois believed that the new airplane would replace the cavalry for reconnaissance and in 1908 transferred into the Signal Corps.

Foulois conducted the acceptance test for the Army's first aircraft, a Wright Model A, in 1909. He participated in the Mexican Expedition from 1916–17 and was part of the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I where he was responsible for the logistics and maintenance of the U.S. air fleet. During World War I he and Billy Mitchell began a long and hostile relationship over the direction of military aviation and the best method to get there. After the war he served as a military attaché to Germany where he gathered a great deal of intelligence on German aviation. He later went on to command the 1st Aero Squadron and ultimately commanded the Air Corps.

He retired in 1935 as part of the fallout from the Air Mail scandal. Foulois continued to advocate for a strong air service in retirement. In 1959, at the invitation of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Foulois began touring Air Force bases advocating national security. He died of a heart attack on 25 April 1967 and is buried in his home town of Washington, Connecticut.

In the news

Today in Aviation

November 29

  • 2012 – Fighting between government and rebel forces near Damascus International Airport in Damascus, Syria, closes the road to the airport.[1] The airline Emirates suspends flights to Damascus, and an Egyptian airliner that has landed at Damascus International as scheduled and discharged its passengers safely is ordered to take off and return to Cairo without passengers if its pilot feels the situation is too dangerous to allow the plane to stay long enough to embark its passengers for the return flight.[2]
  • 2006 – Two members of the Australian Army are killed and seven are injured when a Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawk helicopter, A25-221, of 171 Aviation Squadron, hits the deck of HMAS Kanimbla and crashes off Fiji.
  • 2004 – A U.S. Army Sikorsky UH-60L Black Hawk, crashes shortly after taking off from Fort Hood, Texas, when it strikes guy-wires supporting the television antenna of KSWO-TV, near Waco, Texas, killing all seven soldiers aboard. Conditions were foggy and the warning lights on the tower were not lit, in violation of both Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) regulations. Victims included Brigadier General Charles B. Allen of Lawton, Oklahoma; Specialist Richard L. Brown of Stonewall, Louisiana; Chief Warrant Officer Todd T. Christmas of Wagon Mound, New Mexico; Chief Warrant Officer Doug Clapp of Greensboro, North Carolina; Chief Warrant Officer Mark W. Evans of Killeen, Texas; Chief Warrant Officer David H. Garner of Mason City, Iowa; and Colonel James M. Moore of Peabody, Massachusetts.
  • 2003 – An Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Antonov An-26, 9T-TAD, blows out a tire during landing in Boende, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and overruns the runway and crashes into a market square. Of the 24 people on board, 20 are killed and 13 people on the ground die.
  • 1997 – The US Airways Arena in Washington DC, aka the Capital Center, shuts down.
  • 1987Korean Air Flight 858, a Boeing 707, crashes into the Andaman Sea after a bomb explodes on board. All 115 people on board are killed.
  • 1982 – Shortly after completing a training mission, a USAF Boeing B-52G Stratofortress, 59-4766, suffered hydraulics fire in nose gear, exploded at the end of the runway at Castle AFB, California, but crew of nine escaped before it was fully engulfed. Aircraft commander ordered evacuation as soon as he learned of the wheel fire.
  • 1955 – Royal Air Force Gloster Javelin FAW.1, XA561, on flight out of RAF Boscombe Down, entered spiral at 39,000 feet (12,000 m) from which the pilot could not recover. He ejected and the aircraft came down, largely intact, at Ashley, Isle of Wight.
  • 1953 – American Airlines inaugurates the first regular commercial service between New York and Los Angeles. The plane for the job: The Douglas DC-7.
  • 1949American Airlines Flight 157, a Douglas DC-6, en route from New York City to Mexico City with 46 passengers and crew, veers off the runway and strikes buildings after the flight crew loses control on final approach to Dallas Love Field; 26 passengers and 2 flight attendants die.
  • 1949 – Fairey Gannet, VR546, crashes on take-off from Fairey's flight test airfield at White Waltham, Berkshire, following violent porpoising at unstick speed. Repairs take three months and test flying does not resume until March 1950.
  • 1945 – A U. S. Army Sikorsky R-5 helicopter off the coast of Long Island, New York, makes the first air-sea rescue.
  • 1944 – The U. S. Navy submarine USS Archerfish torpedoes and sinks the Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano southeast of Shingū, Japan, with the loss of 1,436 lives. There are 1,080 survivors.
  • 1944 – Kamikazes damage the battleship USS Maryland and a destroyer in Leyte Gulf.
  • 1944 – (Overnight) 29 B-29s conduct the first night incendiary raid against Japan, attacking industrial areas in Tokyo and destroying an estimated 0.1 square mile (0.15 square kilometer) of the city.
  • 1944 – Douglas A-26 Invader, A-26B-10-DT 43-22298 and A-26B-15-DT 43-22336 both of 641st Squadron USAF collided during formation after take-off from Warton Aerodrome Lancashire. All crew were killed. Both aircraft remained on Freckleton Marsh and were partially recovered as part of a UK Channel 4 Time Team Programme in 2005.
  • 1929Bristol Type 101, a single-bay, biplane two-seat fighter design powered by a 450 hp Bristol Jupiter VI, and later, VIA radial engine, is rejected outright by the Air Ministry due to its all-wooden construction. Continued as a private venture, it first flies at Filton on 8 August 1927, piloted by Cyril Uwins, registered G-EBOW. With the VIA powerplant, Uwins achieves second place in the 1928 King's Cup race at an average speed of 159.9 mph. Subsequently used as a company hack and as a test bed for the 485 hp Bristol Mercury II nine-cylinder radial, it suffers wing centre section failure on this date while being subjected to engine overspeeding tests, the pilot, C. R. I. Shaw, bailing out successfully. This was the last wooden fighter built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company.


  1. ^ Bradley Secker and Kristen Gillespie (29 November 2012). "Syrian rebels battling for airport amid Internet shutdown". USA Today. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  2. ^ Oliver Holmes (29 November 2012). "Damascus fighting cuts off Internet, airport". Reuters. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  3. ^ Anonymous, "X-47B Drone Meets the Fleet," Aviation History, March 2013, p. 10.

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