The invention of the airplane

Godwill By Godwill , 12th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Transport>Airplanes

The history of the airplane which started like a child's kite in the early Centuries has transformed the world's transport system with heavy flying engines. Transportation of passengers and goods has been made easy through the use of airplane.


Transportation today has been made so easy because of the invention of the airplane. People can travel long distances in a very short time. In the ancient days, people travel long distances with the help of ships especially when travelling from a nation in one continent to a nation in another continent. It takes an average of three weeks to travel from any West African coast to Europe by sea in those days. Within the main lands, transportation was done by trekking, using the horses and carts etc. One would need to travel for days to get to their destination and often time worn out at the end of the journey.

History and origin

In the 15th Century, Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci launched an attempt in the aeronautics with bird like flapping wings machine called ornithopters. This invention formed the basics for the 19th Century experimenters. Before or at the same time of Leonardo’s inventions, three devices important to aviation had been invented in Europe in the Medieval Ages and had reached a high stage of development by Leonardo’s time—the windmill, an early propeller; the kite, an early airplane wing; and the model helicopter and between 1799 and 1809 English baronet Sir George Cayley created the concept of the modern airplane. George Cayley invented and designed a airplanes with rigid wings to provide lift and a propeller to provide thrust as against the Leonardo’s ornithopter.

Cayley laid the foundations of aerodynamics and in 1853, he sent his coachman on the first gliding flight in the history of airplanes. In 1843 British inventor William Samuel Henson published his patented design for an Aerial Steam Carriage. Henson’s design formed the basics for the production of the modern airplane—a fixed-wing monoplane with propellers, fuselage, and wheeled landing gear, and with flight control by means of rear elevator and rudder. His efforts were commendable but the Steam-powered models made by Henson in 1847 were unsuccessful. In 1890 French engineer Clément Ader built a steam-powered airplane and made the first actual flight of a piloted, heavier-than-air craft but the aircraft crash landed.

German aeronautical engineer Otto Lilienthal designed hang gliders with which he made many successful flights between 1891 and 1896 when he died in a gliding accident. Though his invention was capable of flying, it lacked a control system – it was controlled by swinging his torso and legs in the direction he wished to go. Between 1892 and 1896, American inventor Samuel Pierpont Langley succeeded in building and unpiloted drone aircraft which could not and was never piloted by anyone.

The Wright brothers

The Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio finally became the pioneers of the first successful piloted heavier-than-air flying machine. They put together a relatively lightweight powerful engine of 337kg with efficient propellers, light weight wings and an effective control technology. Orville Wright made the first successful flight of a piloted, heavier-than-air, self-propelled craft, called the Flyer on December 17, 1903. Though it traveled a short distance of about 37 meters, it marked the beginning of a new aeronautic era. Three more flights were conducted same day and the fourth lasted 59 seconds and covered about 260 meters. In 1905, the Wrights constructed a flier which can turn, circle, bank, make figure eights and remain in the air for as long as the fuel could support the flight. This flier became the world’s first practical airplane and was launched at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Five years after the Kitty Hawk flight, Orville Wright carried out series of flight demonstrations for the Army Signal Corps at Fort Myer, Virginia. The military for the first time saw the need and value of airplanes and on September 9, 1908, Orville Wright set a new record for a heavier-than-air craft with a sustained flight of more than one hour. Later in the in the same month, while circling the field at Fort Myer, Orville crashed while carrying an army observer, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge. Selfridge died from his injuries and became the first fatality from the crash of a powered airplane.

Later innovations

Several innovations began to flow into the aeronautic industry and the result was the introduction of different kinds of aircraft into the air. French engineer Louis Blériot came out with his a Blériot XI, a monoplane of his own design on July 25, 1909. Airplanes were used for the world wars and subsequently for passenger transportation. Long distance flights were made in 1913 from France to Egypt with many stops, and the first non stop long distance flight was made form France to Tunisia. There have been great innovations in the aeronautic industry and more sophisticated aircrafts has been produced.


Air Transportation, Airplanes, Airports, Airspace, Invention, The Wright Brothers, Transportation

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author avatar Godwill
A Writer, Authour and Publisher based in Lagos. Freelance writing on Religion, History, Food & Nutrition, Self-help & Counselling, Addiction, Poems & Proses, and science, with online E books.

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