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13 HISTORY OF AVIATION With the invention of the internal combustion engine, in the late nineteenth century, new possibilities of motive force became available. By 1903 the automobile was set to challenge the horse. Transportation would soon change even more dramatically because of a new invention – the aeroplane. Within the century that followed, humankind took to the air, led by the pioneering example of Wilbur and Orville Wright. First in frail craft, but soon in sturdy and reliable machines, aviators shattered long-standing barriers of time and distance. By midcentury air travel was common, and by the late 1950s it had replaced the train and steamship as the preferred mode of transport. By the last quarter of the twentieth century, with large, efficient jet-powered aircraft, air travel was commonplace and affordable to all. Flying has become second nature to hundreds of millions of people and is so deeply intertwined into the fabric of society that it is impossible to imagine a world without it. Legend of Icarus In the most famous of the ancient stories related to the sky, the skilled craftsman Daedalus makes wings of feathers and wax so he and his son Icarus can escape their imprisonment on the island of Crete. The technology improbably works, but Icarus flies too close to the sun and melts the wax, falling to his death. Chinese Role As early as 400 BC, kites were made mainly for religious ceremonies in China. They helped to establish basic principles of aerodynamics. Traced back to city of “Qufu” from 475-221 BC Marco Polo reported in the fourteenth century that the Chinese had developed kites powerful enough to carry a man aloft. These kites were brought to Europe by sailors and merchants Chinese made four main types of kites Centipede ; Hard Winged; Soft Winged; Flat Kites and “lanterns”.
Muslim Contribution in Aviation Abbas Ibn Firnas was a Muslim inventor, engineer, aviator, physician, Arabic poet, and musician. He covered himself with feathers for the purpose, attached a couple of wings to his body, and flung himself down into the air. He flew a considerable distance, as if he had been a bird, but, in alighting again on the place whence he had started, his back was very much hurt. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba (Qurtuba) using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. The cloak is considered the first parachute. In 875, using a machine of silk and eagles' feathers he tried again and flew for 10 minutes. Landing was improper, but he is credited with these two attempts. The crater Ibn Firnas on the Moon is named in his honor. FIRST BALLOON FLIERS In June 1783 the Montgolfier brothers conducted the first public display of a hot-air balloon, and the following November François Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes made the first manned ascent. Early French aeronauts achieved some spectacular flights. In February 1784 Jean-Pierre Blanchard soared to over 3,800m (12,500ft) in a hydrogen balloon. The Montgolfier brothers established credibility through their invention and made their place in the history books. They sent animals up first on a test flight – a duck, a sheep, and a chicken. All landed safely. The first free manned flight followed on 21 November, when young physician François Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes, an army officer, drifted over Paris covering 8km (5 miles) in about 25 minutes. Jean-Pierre Blanchard, with American expatriate John Jeffries on board, flew across the Channel from England to France in January 1785, 124 years before Louis Blériot.
BALLOONS THE BALLOON FLIGHTS OF 1783 began a tradition of lighter-than-air flight. The drawbacks of balloons were: 1. A huge balloon was needed to carry even a small weight. 2. It was only marginally controllable. 3. Balloon was at the mercy of the winds. Some practical uses for balloons in the 19th century were:
1. they were employed as observation platforms during the American Civil War, 2. In some wars, they were used to carry messages.
AIRSHIP The first controlled powered balloon – also known as dirigible or airship – was demonstrated by Frenchman Henri Giffard in 1852. It used a steam powered propeller under a cigar-shaped bag filled with coal gas. It flew 27km (17 miles) at around 10kph (6mph).
CAYLEY Belonging to Yorkshire, England was George Cayley, who was to make the first serious practical and theoretical progress towards heavier-than-air flight. He defined the challenge of heavier-thanair flight in these famous words: “The whole problem is confined within these limits to make a surface support a given weight by the application of power to the resistance of air.” Cayley addressed himself to these problems of lift and drag through careful observation of bird flight, systematic experimentation, and mathematical calculations. He used an early device called “whirling arm” – like a wind tunnel, to test the lift created by different aerofoils, or wings, at various angles and speeds. As early as 1799 made a crucial step forwards in design as compared to others. He suggested that the wing was not a mean of propulsion, instead a device to generate lift. He tested this by building gliders. His calculations of lift and drag, and his comments on how an aircraft could be stabilized and controlled, constituted a solid basis for potential progress towards heavier-than-air flight. Unfortunately, they were largely ignored. Sir George Cayley, worked to create the world’s first manned heavier-than-air flight in a glider in 1853. It was a success, but kept private. It came to light many years after his death. First Wind Tunnel Francis Wenham, a distinguished marine engineer and a founder of the Aeronautical Society, built the first wind tunnel and produced improved data on the lift provided by different wing shapes. Aeronautical Society The foundation of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain in 1866, a dignified association of scientists and engineers who staged the world’s first exhibition of flying machines. They made some notable efforts to advance understanding of aerodynamics. Early Engine Powered Flight The first serious of the steam powered experiment was a French naval officer, Félix du Temple de la Croix. In the 1850s, with his brother Louis, he designed and flew a model aeroplane powered first by clockwork and then by a miniature steam engine. He then designed a full-size monoplane with a lightweight steam engine and retractable undercarriage. Russian experimenter, Aleksander Mozhaiskii in 1884, at Krasnoe Selo outside St Petersburg, tested a two-engined monoplane which momentarily lifted in the air.
French electrical engineer Clément Ader tested a batwinged steam-powered aircraft in 1890. It flew at a height of around 20cm (8in) for a distance of 50m (165ft). Otto Lilienthal BORN IN POMERANIA, Otto Lilienthal (1848–1896) was fascinated from an early age by the flight of birds. Although he trained as an engineer and ran a factory building steam engines, he remained convinced that ornithology held the key to human flight and his publication Birdflight was the Basis of Aviation. Although he became famous for his experiments with gliders, flying his first one in 1891, he never abandoned the idea of flapping wings as a means of propulsion. Between 1891 and 1896, Lilienthal designed and built 16 different gliders, mostly monoplanes but some biplanes.They were light and flimsy structures, made by stretching cotton material over willow and bamboo ribs. In all, Lilienthal carried out more than 2,000 flights, the longest covering a distance of 350m (1,150ft). A key lesson he learned from these experiences was that the air could be a dangerous and turbulent medium to move through. Since Lilienthal’s gliders had no control system, he used his body weight to maintain balance and stability amid the shifting air currents. Lilienthal died on 10 August 1896 following a crash in his glider. Chanute FRENCH-BORN in CHICAGO USA Octave Chanute was a civil engineer. He published “Progress in Flying Machines” in 1894. Chanute developed a variety of hang-gliders. Chanute also tested a glider with no fewer than 12 movable wings. His principle was that “the wings should move, not the man”. Genuine success came late in the summer when a biplane glider designed jointly by Chanute and Herring achieved flights of up to 110m (360ft). The two wings were braced by a Pratt Truss system, which made an important contribution in designs of many aircraft in the following years. The machine proved so reliable and easy to fly that visitors were invited to joy-ride on this aircraft. FIRST FUEL POWERED AERO ENGINE Percy Pilcher was the first would-be aviator to develop a gasoline aero-engine. He intended to use the 4hp power plant to drive a propeller attached to one of his gliders. But before he could test it, his glider crashed and he died. The deaths of Lilienthal and Pilcher were a major setback for those who believed in gliding as the route to powered manned flight.
SAMUEL PIERPONT LANGLEY Langley, (1834–1906) rose to prominence as an astrophysicist working at the Allegheny Observatory in Pennsylvania. Recognized as one of America’s leading scientists, he was appointed to the prestigious position of Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 1887. Langley began investigating the practicality of flight in the 1880s and continued his experiments at the Smithsonian, exploiting its resources. He progressed from building small models powered by rubber bands to larger steam-powered “Aerodrome” models. Langley believed that the application of sufficient power to an aerodynamically stable machine would solve the problem of flight. In 1896, he felt he had proved his point by flying steam-powered model aircraft which he called Aerodromes had a wingspan of around 4.25m (14ft). One flew for 1 minute 30 seconds and another for 1 minute 45 seconds. In stark contrast to the Wright brothers, Langley developed no hands-on experience of either building flying machines or piloting them. His manned aeroplane, the Great Aerodrome, was the product of money and bureaucratic organization applied to the problem of flight, but it failed to fly. Had Langley ended his work there, his contribution to aviation history would have been a resounding success. But the temptation to pursue manned flight proved too strong.
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