Since the beginning of time, humans have learned to crawl, walk and run. For thousands of years, the dream of aviation and learning to fly has occupied the greatest of minds.
Early days of aviation
From the Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus, to stories originating across the globe in India and China, early flying legends tell stories of men strapping birdlike wings and other devices to themselves in an attempt to fly.
Possibly the first form of man-made aircraft was the man-carrying kite, believed to have originated in China, man-carrying kites were used for both military and civil purposes.
The beginning of a new era
In 1670 Francesco Lana de Terzi published a work suggesting the use of copper foil spheres that contain a vacuum. Unfortunately his theory was not feasible for aviation, as the pressure of the surrounding air would crush the spheres.
Over the next one two hundred years, ballooning, airships and zeppelins became incredibly popular with many people in Europe, taking to the skies in the late 18th century. It was ballooning which helped build a detailed understanding of the relationship between altitude and atmosphere.
The emergence of modern theory
The 17th and 18th centuries were more successful, with Tito Livio Burattini inventing a model aircraft with four fixed glider wings in 1647, successfully lifting a cat in 1648!
The 19th century and the arrival of steam power broke new ground with the design for an aerial steam carriage. It wasn’t until the Wright brothers came along that aviation truly changed aviation. Orville and Wilbur Wright’s rigorous experimentation of trial and error led to the working aircraft.
Military use and the world wars
Almost as soon as airplanes were invented, they were used for military purposes with the first country to do so, being Italy. During the war, France, Germany and Italy became leading manufacturers of fighter planes with Hugo Junkers pioneering the all-metal aircraft in 1915.
The Second World War saw rapid advancements in aircraft technology with the creation of the first operational jet aircraft in 1942, and the jet-powered bomber in 1943.
Aviation Post-war and today
After World War II, most ex-military aircraft began being used for commercial aviation, transporting people and cargo.
In 1967, the X-15 set the air speed record for an aircraft at 7,297 km/h or Mach 6.1.
The last quarter of the 20th century saw an advancement not in speeds or distance, but in the digital revolution in flight avionics and aircraft manufacturing techniques.
The 21st century has seen the emergence of remotely operated or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) . In 2003 the first autonomous flight across the atlantic occurred by a computer-controlled model aircraft.
Just last year in 2015, a solar-powered plane, the Solar Impulse 2, flown by André Borschberg, flew a record distance of 7212 km from Nagoya, Japan to Honolulu, Hawaii.
What’s in store for the future?
With such rapid technological and aviation advancements in the last two hundred years alone, it is exciting to wonder what is next. Is it electric aircraft? 3D printed planes?
Computer technology is now advancing more and more by the hour than it did its entire first 90 years since. By 2050, we may all just be boarding a plane that can provide thrust in any direction, eliminating the need for rudders, tailplane control surfaces and elevators!
If you’ve dreamed of taking to the skies, like many have since the dream to fly became a reality, why not check out the The Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) or contact us on (03) 9587 5020 to find if you have what it takes to fly.