Aviation History - Page 5 Aviation Articles

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 to Host Word-Record Skydiving Attempts During Afternoon Air Shows

Skydiving Hall of Fame to organize international teams of expert jumpers

Skydiver courtesy cristinasz @ Morguefile

Photo courtesy cristinasz@Morguefile

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin - A world-record skydive attempt will be part of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, with an international team of top skydivers aiming to make history at The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration. EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 is July 20-26 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The Skydiving Hall of Fame based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, will organize the 108-person jump team for the record attempts sanctioned by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), which is the official organization that maintains the world’s aviation-related records. The teams will practice and prepare with record attempts at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, before the scheduled record attempts on July 22 and 24 at Oshkosh (weather and conditions permitting).

"Skydivers have been part of the EAA AirVenture air show for decades, but the opportunity to have a world-record attempt at Oshkosh is something unprecedented here, and very exciting," said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs, who leads the AirVenture event organizing team. "The Skydiving Hall of Fame is bringing the best of the best in their community to Oshkosh, matching the standard of performers that have made the AirVenture air show a true all-star event."

The Skydiving Hall of Fame team, known as the Eagles, will jump from as high as 20,000 feet from its Short SC.7 Skyvan and deHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otters to begin their record attempts. Any record would then be confirmed by FAI and its U.S. representative, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA).

"These seasoned skydivers, who are among the best in the world, face enormous challenges," said James F. (Curt) Curtis, president and CEO of the Skydiving Museum & Skydiving Hall of Fame. "To achieve an FAI world record while performing a high-profile professional exhibition requires extraordinary skill, talent and focus. But the opportunity to attempt this at Oshkosh during AirVenture week is a unique moment for our community."

About the Skydiving Museum & Skydiving Hall of Fame

The purpose of the Skydiving Museum is to recognize and promote the sport of skydiving through public education and awareness; recognize the contribution to skydiving by its participants, suppliers and supporters; capture forever the history of the sport via its events, equipment and personalities; and enhance aviation safety. Established by the Museum in 2010, the Skydiving Hall of Fame recognizes and honors those who, through leadership, innovations and/or outstanding achievements have defined, promoted, inspired and advanced skydiving at the highest and sustained levels in the past present, and for future generations of skydivers. More information on the museum and its programs is available at skydivingmuseum.org.

About EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is "The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration" and EAA’s yearly membership convention. Additional EAA AirVenture information, including advance ticket and camping purchase, is available online at www.airventure.org. EAA members receive lowest prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit www.eaa.org. Immediate news is available at www.twitter.com/EAAupdate.

12 Things You Didn’t Know About the Wright Brothers



Most of us know that Wright brothers Orville and Wilbur were smart guys who also had a thing for bicycles. But what else do we know about these two brothers that successfully launched America – and other countries – into the world of flying? Here are a few interesting facts about the fathers of modern aviation.
  1. Neither Wilbur nor Orville finished high school. A hockey accident left Wilbur badly injured and he fell into a depression, forgoing his plans to attend Yale. Instead, he stayed home and cared for his mother, who had tuberculosis. In the meantime, Wilbur’s younger brother Orville dropped out of high school his senior year to open a print shop.

  2. In 1889 Wilbur and Orville started their own newspaper. It was a West Dayton paper called West Side News, in which Wilbur was the editor and Orville the publisher.

  3. Orville and Wilbur’s father was a bishop who traveled a lot. Their mother was the parent they turned to for advice on their engineering and design pursuits. Being mechanically inclined, she would design and build small appliances and also built toys for the two boys and their siblings.

  4. Wilbur was mature for his age, and he preferred to hang out with his two older brothers. He was invited to join their social group called the "Ten Dayton Boys," where activities included annual meetings, drinking, eating and singing.

  5. Wilbur was quiet and studious. Orville was mischievous, but shy.

  6. Orville played the mandolin. His sister Katharine, whom he was very close to, is known to have said, "He sits around and picks that thing until I can hardly stay in the house."

  7. The brothers funded their airplane pursuits with bicycles. The pair went into business designing, building and repairing bicycles. They competed with many other bicycle shops, at first selling the popular brands and later designing and manufacturing their own.

  8. The Kitty Hawk location was chosen based on certain criteria that included a soft place to land, sustained winds, elevated areas to launch from and, of course, wide open spaces.

  9. The test gliders were left on the beaches of Kitty Hawk. After the test flights of the first three gliders, the aircraft were so beat up from their time at Kitty Hawk that the Wright brothers just left them behind on the beaches of Kitty Hawk. A wingtip was later recovered, and is the only piece found from the Wright brothers’ gliders.

  10. One wing was shorter than the other on the Wright Flyer On the Wright brother’s design of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the left wing was engineered to be four inches longer than the right wing in order to compensate for the engine placement on the right side of the pilot.

  11. The brothers tossed a coin to determine who would be flying the Wright Flyer during its first test flight. Wilbur won.

  12. Farmland was used for future flight testing in Ohio, as long as they moved the cows first. Tired of continuous flights to Kitty Hawk, the Wright brothers sought out the use of land from a nearby farmer in Ohio. They built a hangar there and began a mission to fly circular flights and make the aircraft more practical. The farmer requested nothing in return, except that they lead the cattle away before flying.

The Balloon Corps of the Civil War

Thaddeus Lowe’s Union Army Balloon Corps poses with an inflated balloon and observation basket near an unidentified battlefield. Photo via.

If there is anything that has experienced an entirely unique and interesting history, it is aviation. From the Wright brothers to the Blackbird, the innovations and creative ideas that helped get us into the air have been nothing short of amazing. Recently I was studying aviation history and I came upon something I had never heard of before. I decided to do some research and find out more about this interesting piece of aviation history.

In 1861, the beginning of the Civil War had come upon America. The North and South were split, and President Abraham Lincoln was desperate for a new way to help the Union defeat their enemies and abolish slavery. It would take some creative ideas to get the upper hand against the Confederate Army.

A man by the name of Thaddeus Lowe was one of the top American balloonists and was also in the business of building balloons for other aeronauts. He successfully flew his balloon over 600 miles on an eastward wind to the coast. He traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio to South Carolina in about nine hours. He was convinced he could cross the Atlantic Ocean, a feat unaccomplished at the time, in just two days.

Unfortunately Lowe never had the chance to complete is Atlantic flight. After landing in South Carolina, the locals saw his Ohio newspapers and figured he was a Yankee. They ordered him to be shot, but he used his charm and wit to talk his way out of the situation. When he finally found a northbound train and headed home, he could see the beginnings of war in America. He decided then that his Atlantic flight was not important, and he was determined to serve his country. With a great idea and resources available, he went to President Lincoln to pitch the idea of creating a Union Army Balloon Corps.

On June 18, 1861, Lowe had the chance to show Lincoln exactly what his balloon was capable of. He traveled to Washington and discussed the possibilities with the president, who was intrigued and asked him to demonstrate with his balloon. To prove that balloons had value in the war, Lowe decided try something he had never done before. He ran a telegraph line from his balloon to the ground, and sent a telegraph to President Lincoln from the air. He was asked to spend the night at the White House and they discussed plans for a future balloon corps.

Lowe was placed in charge of all Balloon Corps operations, and successfully aided in several spying, land mapping, and other helpful missions for the Union Army. The creation of the Balloon Corps also brought along the first instance of an aircraft carrier in history. Although many enemies shot at the balloons, they were never hit.

This is just a brief overview of the fascinating story of the Balloon Corps. I highly encourage further reading and research into the subject, as the stories of these aeronauts are simply amazing!

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