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Aviation is 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 hot air 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. (Full article...)

Selected article

Microburst schematic from NASA. Note the downward motion of the air until it hits ground level, then spreads outward in all directions. The wind regime in a microburst is completely opposite to a tornado.
Microburst schematic from NASA. Note the downward motion of the air until it hits ground level, then spreads outward in all directions. The wind regime in a microburst is completely opposite to a tornado.
Wind shear, sometimes referred to as windshear or wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed and direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. Wind shear can be broken down into vertical and horizontal components, with horizontal wind shear seen across weather fronts and near the coast, and vertical shear typically near the surface, though also at higher levels in the atmosphere near upper level jets and frontal zones aloft.

Wind shear itself is a microscale meteorological phenomenon occurring over a very small distance, but it can be associated with mesoscale or synoptic scale weather features such as squall lines and cold fronts. It is commonly observed near microbursts and downbursts caused by thunderstorms, weather fronts, areas of locally higher low level winds referred to as low level jets, near mountains, radiation inversions that occur due to clear skies and calm winds, buildings, wind turbines, and sailboats. Wind shear has a significant effect during take-off and landing of aircraft due to their effects on steering of the aircraft, and was a significant cause of aircraft accidents involving large loss of life within the United States.

Sound movement through the atmosphere is affected by wind shear, which can bend the wave front, causing sounds to be heard where they normally would not, or vice versa. Strong vertical wind shear within the troposphere also inhibits tropical cyclone development, but helps to organize individual thunderstorms into living longer life cycles which can then produce severe weather. The thermal wind concept explains with how differences in wind speed with height are dependent on horizontal temperature differences, and explains the existence of the jet stream. (Full article...)

Selected image

1997 F-4 Heritage Flight over Florida-edit 1.jpg
Credit: Master Sergeant Michael Ammons
A formation of F-4 Phantom II fighter aircraft fly in formation during a heritage flight demonstration here. The heritage flight program was established in 1997 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force.

Did you know

...that Alejandro Maclean, Spanish television producer and Red Bull Air Race World Series pilot, is nicknamed "The Flying Matador"? ...that Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris accomplished the world's first powered flight in 1856, with a glider that was pulled behind a running horse? ... that Soviet test pilot Vladimir Kokkinaki set twenty aviation world records?

Selected Aircraft

[[File:|right|250px|]] The Tupolev TB-3 (Russian: Тяжёлый Бомбардировщик, Tyazholy Bombardirovschik, Heavy Bomber, civilian designation ANT-6) was a heavy bomber aircraft which was deployed by the Soviet Air Force in the 1930s and during World War II. It was the world's first cantilever wing four-engine heavy bomber. Despite obsolescence and being officially withdrawn from service in 1939, TB-3 performed bomber and transport duties through much of WWII. The TB-3 also saw combat as a Zveno project fighter mothership and as a light tank transport.

  • Span: 41.80 m (137 ft 2 in)
  • Length: 24.4 m (80 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 8.50 m (27 ft 11 in)
  • Engines: 4× Mikulin M-17F V12 engines, 525 kW (705 hp) each
  • Maximum Speed: 196 km/h (106 knots, 122 mph) at 3000 m (9,840 ft)
  • First Flight: 22 December 1930
...Archive/Nominations

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Selected biography

Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan (born June 17, 1943 in Estacada, Oregon) is an American aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft. He is most famous for his design of the record-breaking Voyager, which was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the suborbital rocket plane SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004.

In the news

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Today in Aviation

September 17

  • 2013 – First Flight of the Boeing 787-9 N789ZB at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, United States. [1]
  • 2009 – An Indonesian Air Force FFA AS-202 Bravo on a routine training flight crashes into a rice field in Sragen, Central Java killing the pilot.
  • 2006 – In the 2006 Nigerian Air Force Dornier 228 crash, fifteen are killed, including many senior officers.
  • 2001 – Grozny Mil Mi-8 crash in Chechnya killed 13 Russian military personnel, mostly senior military officers including two generals.
  • 1993 – The F/A-18 Hornet logs its 2 millionth flying hour – Achieved in only ten years of operations.
  • 1987 – McDonnell-Douglas KC-10A Extender, 82-0190, c/n 48212, written off in ramp fire after explosion while undergoing maintenance at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, killing crew chief.
  • 1981 – Near Sardinia, Italy, a USMC Sikorsky CH-53C Sea Stallion helicopter crashes while attempting to land aboard the USS Guadalcanal during training exercises, killing all five crewmen.
  • 1976 – The prototype Space Shuttle Enterprise, built by Rockwell International (North American), rolls out. Its 9-month approach and landing test program lasts from Jan. 31 to Oct. 26, 1977.
  • 1974 – Entered Service: F-14 Tomcat with VF-1 and VF-2 aboard USS Enterprise
  • 1965Pan Am Flight 292, a Boeing 707, crashes into Chances Peak, Montserrat in stormy weather; all 30 on board die.
  • 1961Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 706, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashes on takeoff from Chicago as a result of a maintenance error causing the aileron s to become detached from the control wheels; all 37 on board die.
  • 1956 – Sixth Lockheed U-2A, Article 346, 56-6679, delivered to the CIA on 13 January 1956, crashes during climb-out from Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany, when the aircraft of Detachment A, stalls at 35,000 feet (11,000 m), killing Agency pilot Howard Carey. Cause of accident never satisfactorily determined.
  • 1956 – Boeing B-52B Stratofortress, 53-393, of the 93d Bomb Squadron, crashes near Madera, California after an in-flight fire. Five crew killed, two bailed out safely.
  • 1947 – The United States Army Air Forces are separated from the United States Army and become an independent armed service, the United States Air Force.
  • 1944 – No. 437 Squadron took part in the airborne landings at Eindhoven, Grave and Arnhem, in the Netherlands.
  • 1944 – The U. S. Navy submarine USS Barb (SS-220) torpedoes and sinks the Japanese aircraft carrier Unyō in the South China Sea. There are over 761 survivors.
  • 1940 – Aircraft from the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious raid Benghazi, Libya.
  • 1939 – The German submarine U-29 torpedoes and sinks the British aircraft carrier HMS Courageous with the loss of 518 lives while Courageous is conducting an antisubmarine patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Fleet Air Arm’s No. 811 and No. 822 Swordfish squadrons are completely destroyed in the sinking. The loss of Courageous results in the Royal Navy withdrawing aircraft carriers from antisubmarine operations.
  • 1937 – At a conference at Nyon, Switzerland, to address Italian attacks on merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea attended by Bulgaria, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Romania, the Soviet Union, and Turkey, delegates agree that a British and French naval patrol in the Mediterranean west of Malta previously authorized to sink submarines suspected of attacking merchant ships also will be authorized to attack aircraft suspected of engaging in anti-shipping strikes. The agreement is in response to Italian attacks on merchant ships by aircraft based at Majorca.
  • 1930 – Edgar Mitchell, American astronaut and the sixth man to walk on the Moon, was born.
  • 1917 – A kite balloon from the USS Huntington was hit by a squall and while being hauled down struck the water so hard that the observer, Lieutenant (jg) Henry W. Hoyt, was knocked out of the basket and caught underwater in the balloon rigging. As the balloon was pulled toward the ship, Patrick McGunigal, Ships Fitter First Class, jumped overboard, cleared the tangle and put a line around Lieutenant Hoyt so that he could be hauled up on deck. For this act of heroism, McGunigal was later awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • 1911 – Lieutenant Reginald Archibald Cammell of the British Air Battalion was killed conducting a trial flight of an ASL Valkyrie monoplane Type B with his own engine fitted. The accident was not considered to be due to faults in the aircraft, but to have been caused by Cammell's lack of experience with the aircraft.


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