The experiments of the French Montgolfier brothers marked an important milestone in the history of flying. Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, sons of a family of paper manufacturers, conducted experiments with hot air balloons.
The brothers initially tried to use water vapor, but as it cooled down and therefore condensed, it made the paper balloon wet and rendered it useless. Later, they attempted to enclose smoke in the balloon, but as the smoke cooled down very fast, this did not yield any results. They finally achieved success by continuously heating the air in the balloon from the bottom.
The first balloons were unmanned, but later they put animals aboard. The official public demonstration took place near Paris in June 1783.
Otto Lilienthal was a Germanengineer who lived and worked in the second half of the 19th century. Lilienthal and his brother Gustave studied the flight of birds and thereby recognized the three basic factors of flying (lift, thrust, and steering). Initially they made flapping-wing models, but after several unsuccessful attempts they decided to build gliders. They designed several models before 1874.
Even after his brother abandoned the project, Otto Lilienthal continued making plans, building gliders and flying by himself. He developed at least 18 gliders from canvas and wicker rods. He started his flights by running against the wind from an elevated point; after several improvements made on his gliders, he managed to fly up to 300 meters (984.3 ft).
Built in 1891, Lilienthal’s glider, became the precursor to modern hang gliders.
Wilbur and Orville Wright, two American brothers from Dayton, Ohio, started experimenting with aircraft in 1899. The main areas of their concern were lift, thrust and control. They also built a wind tunnel to test wing shapes. After 1900, they continued their experiments in the hills near the small town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They built their Flyer I in 1903, which they later nicknamed after that town.
The aircraft's first flight on the 17th of December 1903 was a pioneering event in the history of aviation: it was the first successful controlled flight with a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. It was piloted by Orville Wright, who covered a distance of 39 m (128 ft) during his 12-second flight. Besides his brother, there were five witnesses: members of a lifesaving crew, a businessman and a local boy.
The German Fokker I triplane was perhaps the best known aircraft in the First World War. It made its maiden flight in July 1917. Its name, Dreidecker means ‘triplane’ in German and it was designed to offset the dominance of aircraft used by the Entente Powers: Britain, France and Russia. It was nearly 6 m (19.69 ft) long with a wingspan of over 7 m (22.97 ft).
The fighter boasted amazing maneuverability and an exceptional rate of climb (5.7 m/s or 18.7 ft/s), but its other characteristics - such as its speed and reliability - were mediocre, it proved inferior to contemporary aircraft. It had already been outdated by the end of 1917, with a total of 320 Dreideckers produced.
The Junkers G 24 was a low-wing monoplane passenger aircraft manufactured by the German Junkers company. It made its maiden flight in 1924 and entered service in 1925.
It had an all-metal fuselage and was powered by three engines (interestingly, it was originally designed as a single-engine aircraft, but under the restrictions imposed on German aircraft by the Treaty of Versailles, high-powered engines were not allowed, so the G 24 was built with three low-powered engines). Even so, the aircraft managed to set a number of aviation records.
This type was used for both passenger transportation and military purposes. A floatplane version was also derived from this model, and was used in areas where there were no available airstrips, as floatplanes are capable of taking off and landing on not only dry land, but water too.
The de Havilland DH 106 Comet 1, manufactured by the British-owned de Havilland Aircraft Company, was the first mass-produced, turbojet-powered airliner, that is, the first jetliner. Therefore, this aircraft is considered a milestone in the history of aviation.
The first scheduled flight of the Comet took place in 1952, when the Johannesburg-bound plane took off from London.
The Comet had a clean design and was a lot more comfortable and faster than other airliners. In addition, its operation was economical and the aircraft was set for a bright future; however, the expectations were never fully realized because of the accidents, which were caused by construction flaws.
Even though the de Havilland Aircraft Company corrected the flaws of their planes and helped pave the way for safer civil aviation, the improved Comets could not compete with the airliners of ambitious American manufacturers.
The Boeing 747 was the first wide-body commercial airliner. The airplane, developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes, is one of the best known aircraft in the world. Several version of the Jumbo Jet have been manufactured; it is available in passenger, freighter and other versions (including military).
It made its maiden flight in February 1969 and entered service in 1970, used by Pan American and TWA. By May 2013, more than 1,500 aircraft had been delivered.
It has an excellent lift-to-drag ratio and is extremely safe. The most widely used type is 747-400, its success story is continued by the latest model, the 747-8, introduced in 2010.
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde is a retired turbojet-powered supersonicpassenger airliner. First flown in 1969, Concorde entered service in January 1976 and continued commercial flights for 27 years. It was operated by British airways and Air France and was retired in 2003 due to several unfavorable events. Only 20 aircraft were built.
Concorde (from the French word ‘condorde’, agreement, harmony) set several records (e.g. the fastest transatlantic flight, from Heathrow to New York JFK airport, taking only 2 hours, 52 minutes, 59 seconds). Even today it is considered as a symbol of modern aviation.
The aircraft manufactured by the France-based Airbus SAS is one of the world's largest airliners. Due to impressive dimensions, it is often referred to as the "Superjumbo". It is about 73 m (239.5 ft) long with a wingspan of approx. 80 m (262.5 ft). It made its maiden flight in 2005 and entered commercial service in 2007. The Airbus 380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jetliner. On both decks, the passenger space takes up nearly the entire length of the fuselage, therefore it can carry up to 850 passengers (depending on the configuration).