Humans have been obsessed with the idea of flying since the beginning of time. Throughout the centuries scientists and inventors have tried to create flying machines so that mankind can soar through the blue skies. Humans flying became a reality in 1903 when the Wright Brothers conducted history’s first controlled flight via a heavier-than-air manmade airplane. Since then, numerous aircrafts have been created and here are some of the most impressive.
Hot air balloon
The hot air balloon was created by French inventors Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier during the late 18th century. The first manned flight in a hot air balloon was conducted by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d`Arlandes in 1783 in Paris, France. Since then hot air balloons have improved immensely and are still used to this day as they can travel long distances. The longest distance to be covered with a hot air balloon is 4.767 miles when Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson flew from Japan to Northern Canada. The solar balloon is a variation of the hot air balloon. The main difference between to two aircrafts is that the former is powered by heat which is generated by solar radiation.
Dirigible and Zeppelin
More commonly known as airship, this manmade aircraft is the history’s first flying machine to be powered by controlled flip. It is classified as a lighter-than-air aircraft and earlier airships were lifted into the air with hydrogen which was subsequently substituted with helium. Some dirigibles were fitted with engines to enhance their speed. Airships were used for travelling and shipment hauling purposes as the passengers or cargo could be loaded on the one or more gondolas which were mounted bellow the gas bag.
It is certain that the Zeppelin (a variation of the dirigible) is the most famous airship in human history. It was named after the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and for years scientists thought that it would become the main source of air travel. The Zeppelin was often used for transatlantic flights between Germany and Brazil and North America. Unfortunately the catastrophe of the LZ-129 Hindenburg in 1937 but an end to the usage of the airship as a commercial passenger carrying aircraft. Presently, dirigibles are used mainly for touristic and promotional purposes.
Gliders have been in development for centuries and contributed immensely for the development of aviation. Modern day gliders are engineless airplanes which fly with the help of the dynamic reaction of air against lifting surfaces. Some, types of gliders are fitted with small engines mainly for security purposes and to aid with the lift off process when conditions aren’t favorable. Glider pilots often used meteorological occurrences to navigate their airplanes and gain height when necessary.
The helicopter is lifted into the air via vertical flight a flying concept which dates back to 400 BC when children in China played with a toy which is today known as Chinese Top. The first design of a helicopter-like machine was created by the renowned Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci during the late 15th century. The first fully operational helicopter was built in 1936 at Focke-Wulf by German aviation pioneer Henrich Focke. This type of aircraft is classified as rotary air vehicle and is used in numerous fields such as the military, police services, news stations, private transportation, medical services and so on.
The spaceplane is perhaps one of the most complex and advance aircraft created by mankind. It operates in Earth’s atmosphere and is used by several aeronautics and space agencies throughout the world. It is a complex vehicles which has an abundance of delicate and life maintenance systems. For example they have an ultra-modern garbage management system which recycles and reuses most of the organic waste that is being produced by passengers. This is a highly expensive procedure which is in contrast with common waste collection that a London house clearance firm has to handle. To date only five spaceplanes have successfully leaved and reentered Earth’s atmosphere:
- North American X-15
- Space Shuttle
- Boeing X-37
More commonly known as jetliner, this aircraft is specially designed for the transportation of passengers between cities, countries and continents. Jet airliners are built in different sizes and therefore have a huge variation of seating capacity. At this moment the largest jetliner in the world is the Airbus A380 which can accommodate a total of 853 people. As the name suggest these aircrafts are powered with jet engines. The number of engines that each airplane has is determined by its size and payload. Statistics show that jet airliners are the safety mode of public transportation.
Cargo aircraft are analogical to the above mentioned jetliners with the sole exception that they don’t transport passengers but cargo. The Antonov An-225 Mriya is the longest and heaviest airplane to ever be built. It was constructed in 1988 and is powered by six turbofan engines. It has a maximum payload capacity of 253.820 kilogrammes. It is the only aircraft of its kind to ever be made.
Spacecrafts are vehicles or machines which are designed to fly and operate in outer space. As you can guess, they are complex aircraft which serve a number of different purposes such as space exploration, Earth observation, meteorology, space colonization, communications and navigation. They have also been used to transport astronauts to the moon. Robotised spacecraft which orbit around earth are classified as artificial satellites. As of this moment there are about 1.100 active and 2.600 non-functional satellites in our planet’s orbit.
Officially called UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), drones are aircraft which are piloted from distance via remote control. They are used for missions which are deemed to be too dangerous for humans. At first they are mostly used by the military but today they also serve commercial, scientific, civil and recreational purposes. The latest number shows that there are currently more civilian drones than military drones. Approximately one million people own an UAV.
Fighter jet and bombers
Both are military aircraft which are built for combat purposes. Bombers are constructed to hit ground target from a distance while jet fighter are made to confront their rival counterparts and to strike targets from a short distance. Both aircrafts are mainly powered by jet engines, how fighter jets can reach much higher speeds due to their lighter construction and payload.