The Invention of the Airplane as Well as the Birth of an Industry

I predict that you will read a lot about the Wright Brothers and their inventing of the airplane, this year. This is because it will be the 110th anniversary of the birth of our industry.

To reflect upon how the technology that makes the aviation industry what it is today, and how it has developed over this past century plus ten, can certainly cause a considerable amount of brain ache, I think.

Obviously the world was ripe for man-made machines to navigate across the skies, so much so, that developments and advances in aviation, especially in the first sixty-plus years came and spread almost as fast as the flame front of a pool of ignited gasoline.

Think about this as we make a quick review of some of the technological milestones that have taken place in aviation and are now laid down within our history books:

1903 the Wright Brothers invent the airplane

1914 the airplane fights in European skies during WW1 while at the same time the world’s first scheduled airline service is established on the west coast of Florida

1919 Alcock and Brown fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean in two days, which is at least a week faster than the most rapid sea vessel of the day

1919 man is first able to climb higher than the highest point on the earth, thanks to Roland Rohlfs in a Curtiss Tri-Plane

1924 a DH 4B made the first all instrument only flight after take-off, and before landing (575 miles from Ohio to New York; and later in 1929 the first all instrument flight that included the take-off and landing too

1939 to 1945, the airplane fights again during WW2, this time in all of the skies of the World

1942 is the year that the Jet Engine is invented

1947 Chuck Yeager exceeds Mach-1 and is the first person to exceed the speed of sound

1957 the first man made earth orbiting satellite is shot into space

1959 the world’s first business jet became available for purchase (MS760 Paris Jet)

1969 men went to space, took a walk on the moon, and then returned home to tell the world what they saw and experienced while they were strolling/hopping about there

1976 the paying passenger public were first able to fly faster than a rifle bullet at 1,354 mph when they purchased a ticket on Concorde

1980 a flight across the English Channel was successfully flown/pedalled from dry land, across water to dry land over a distance of more than 22 Miles, powered entirely by energy provided by the lone pilot

1986 an airplane made a flight that completely circumnavigated the world, all on one load of fuel - from take-off to landing for 24,987 miles

2010 a solar powered airplane makes a flight of more than 26 hours

Now think about how other epic man-made technologies developed in the last 200,000 years:

It took man about 140,000 years to invent the ‘Wheel’

Agriculture; or the tending of crops to feed a group of people that remained in-one place, instead of going out to ‘hunt-and-gather’ isn’t first recorded until 185,000 years after hybrid apes technically become Homo sapiens’, i.e. one of us!

Metal hand-working tools were not in existence until 193,000 years had elapsed

It was only a full 1,000 years before metal had been made and fashioned; that the world’s first boat took to water

A simplistic article: the candle took over 197,000 years before it was invented by man

It was 199,600-odd years after the birth of ‘man’ when animal power was finally challenged by, and firmly put on the road of obsolescence by the man-made invention: the steam engine.

The locomotive quickly followed, and the automobile didn’t come until almost 300 years later. A full 25 years after Karl Benz invented the world’s automobile, the Wright Brothers then invented the airplane.

I don’t know about you, but this passage through time really makes my head spin; what do you think?

I hope that you don’t condemn me for saying this, but I sometimes feel that since the late 1970’s, safety and reliability has certainly benefited from technological advances, namely the computer, while in actuality our ability to fly high-fast and furious has actually regressed.

Long live the memory of Concorde and the Space Shuttle, and come January 2016 none of us will ever again have the pleasure of hearing a pair of Rolls-Royce Speys or Pratt & Whitney JT-12’s or CJ610’s, etc at running at full tilt as they blast a swept-winged beauty from any runway near me, you, or anyone that you know that may be living in the good old U.S.A. after that date.

Happy New Year!