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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.

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Traditional general aviation fixed-wing light aircraft, the most numerous class of aircraft in the sector
General aviation in the United Kingdom has been defined as a civil aircraft operation other than a commercial air transport flight operating to a schedule. Although the International Civil Aviation Organization excludes any form of remunerated aviation from its definition, some commercial operations are often included within the scope of general aviation in the UK. The sector operates business jets, rotorcraft, piston and jet-engined fixed-wing aircraft, gliders of all descriptions, and lighter than air craft. Public transport operations include business (or corporate) aviation and air taxi services, and account for nearly half of the economic contribution made by the sector. There are 28,000 Private Pilot Licence holders, and 10,000 certified glider pilots. Although GA operates from more than 1,800 aerodromes and landing sites, ranging in size from large regional airports to farm strips, over 80 per cent of GA activity is conducted at 134 of the larger aerodromes. GA is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, although regulatory powers are being increasingly transferred to the European Aviation Safety Agency. The main focus is on standards of airworthiness and pilot licensing, and the objective is to promote high standards of safety.

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F-15 Eagle in a near vertical climb
Credit: Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Allen, USAF

An F-15D Eagle from the 325th Fighter Wing based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida releasing flares. The F-15 is a multi-role tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas. The first flight of the F-15A was in July 1972, but since then it has been produced in six model variations with both single seat and dual seat versions. The original and largest operator of the F-15 is the United States Air Force, but it is also operated by the air forces of Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

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Did you know 1931 Amelia Earhart flew a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro to a then world altitude record of 18,415 feet (5613 m)? ...that during World War II, Marine Fighting Squadron 215 established four new U.S. Marine Corps records in the South Pacific including having the most ace pilots? ... that a USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft crashed shortly after take-off at Bakers Creek, Queensland in 1943, killing 40 of the 41 service personnel on board and making it Australia's worst aviation disaster?

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
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Selected biography

Elizabeth Muriel Gregory "Elsie" MacGill (27 March 1905 – 4 November 1980), known as the Queen of the Hurricanes, was the world's first female aircraft designer. She worked as an aeronautical engineer during the Second World War and did much to make Canada a powerhouse of airplane construction during her years at Canada Car and Foundry (CC&F) in Fort William, Ontario. After her work at CC&F she ran a successful consulting business. Between 1967–1970 she was a commissioner on the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, published in 1970.

In the news

Wikinews Aviation portal
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Today in Aviation

June 17

  • 2009 – A Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24MR Fencer crashes on landing at the Monchegorsk Airforce Base, Murmansk Oblast, Russia. The aircraft from the 98th Separate Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment suffered a heavy landing forcing the 2 crew to eject safely.
  • 2002 – C-130 Hercules airtanker crashes: Two large airtankers – A C-130 Hercules and a PB4Y-2 Privateer – crashed about a month apart while performing aerial firefighting operations.
  • 2000 – CityFlyer Express Flight 8106 was a BAe 146 aircraft hijacked on a flight from Zürich Airport to London Gatwick Airport. After the aircraft landed at Gatwick, the hijacker was arrested without any injuries to the occupants.
  • 1998 – Kamov Ka-50, Hokum, crash at Army Aviation Combat Training Centre, Torzhok, kills Gen. Boris Vorobyov.
  • 1989 – Stanley David Griggs, Astronaut (STS 51-D), dies plane crash at 59.
  • 1986 – Last flight ever by a Boeing B-47 Stratojet when B-47E-25-DT, 52-0166, was restored to flight status for a one-time-only ferry move from Naval Weapons Center China Lake, California to Castle Air Force Base, California for museum display.
  • 1986 – Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, 63-7983, c/n 18600, 305th Air Refuelling Wing, Det. 1, TDY, hits the runway at Howard AB, Panama, becomes airborne again and then crashes into a hill in the jungle.
  • 1985 – Launch: Space Shuttle Discovery STS-51-G at 11:33:00 UTC. Mission highlights: Multiple comsat deployments. Flight of first member of royalty, Saudi, Muslim, and Arab in space, Sultan Salman Al Saud.
  • 1981 – Two Indonesian Air Force BAe Hawk T.53s collide over Indonesia.
  • 1979Air New England Flight 248, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, crashes near Camp Greenough, Massachusetts while on approach to Barnstable Municipal Airport, killing the pilot.
  • 1970 – Lockheed SR-71A, 61-7970, Item 2021, collides with KC-135Q tanker 20 miles E of El Paso, Texas. Pilot Buddy Brown and RSO Mort Jarvis eject safely. Tanker limps back to Beale Air Force Base, California.
  • 1969 – Black Panther Party member William Lee Brent hijacks Trans World Airlines Flight 154 and forces it to take him to Havana, Cuba. He will reside in Cuba until his death in 2006.
  • 1967 – The Vietnam War‘s heaviest air attacks in nine months are American strikes targeting railroads near Hanoi.
  • 1959 – First flight of the Dassault Mirage IV. The first European supersonic jet bomber, is made in France. This high-performance combat aircraft flies at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound).
  • 1953 – An McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee of VC-4 Det. 6 (?), landing aboard the USS Coral Sea, CVA-43, during Mediterranean cruise, misses all arresting wires, then bounces completely over the nylon Davis safety barrier. Aircraft shears port undercarriage leg off on a starter tractor and then crashes into a pair of Douglas AD Skyraiders spotted on the forward flight deck before continuing over the bow. Pilot Lt. (jg) Robert E. Berger, of Denver, Colorado, killed in the accident, posthumously receives the Navy and Marine Corps Medal which is presented to his widow in a ceremony at the Naval training center of the Denver Federal Center.
  • 1952 – Entered Service: Airship ZPN-1 with the US Navy
  • 1948United Airlines Flight 624, a Douglas DC-6, crashes near Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania after errors in attempting to extinguish what was believed to have been an onboard fire; all 43 on board die.
  • 1947 – First round-the-world civil air service leaves New York City.
  • 1945 – 457 B-29 Superfortresses drop 3,195 tons (2,898,485 kg) of bombs on Ōmuta and other cities in Japan.
  • 1944 – Japanese aircraft attack American warships off Saipan, damaging the escort aircraft carrier USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70).
  • 1944 – 35 carrier aircraft of Task Group 58.4 strike the Japanese airfield on Pagan Island, finding no aircraft but damaging several buildings.
  • 1942 – U. S. Army Air Forces conduct a test at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, successfully picking up gliders from the ground by an airplane flying at more than 100 mph.
  • 1941 – The RCAF formed the 409 (Night Fighter) Squadron with Defiant NFI aircraft.
  • 1941 – The Royal Navy commissions its first escort aircraft carrier, HMS Empire Audacity. She later will be renamed HMS Audacity and become the world’s first escort carrier to deploy in combat.
  • 1940 – A detachment of five Douglas B-18 Digby’s from No. 10 (BR) Squadron at Dartmouth, commenced operation from Gander Airport. This was the first RCAF Operation in Newfoundland.
  • 1940 – German aircraft bomb the British ocean liner RMS Lancastria in Quiberon Bay after she has taken aboard 5,800 Allied troops for evacuation from France to the United Kingdom. She catches fire and sinks in 15 min, with the loss of 3,000 lives.
  • 1928Amelia Earhart becomes first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. During this flight, she accompanied pilot Wilmer Stultz and copilot/mechanic Louis Gordon, nominally as a passenger, but with the added duty of keeping the flight log.
  • 1917 – In daylight, 21 German Gotha bombers make Germany‘s second heavier-than-air bombing attack on England. Seven bombers attack small towns in Kent and Essex and 14 attack London. The bombers kill 162 people and injure 432.
  • 1916 – Royal Aircraft Factory R. E.8.
  • 1916 – The first French ace, Jean Navarre, is shot down and wounded, ending his combat career with 12 confirmed kills.
  • 1910 – Romanian engineer and inventor Aurel Vlaicu flies his first airplane, Vlaicu I


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