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Famous flights to inspire budding aviators

Read about history’s most noteworthy flights and get inspired to study Aviation.

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Are you a budding Aviation student who dreams of breaking records and going places your friends can only look at online? Let’s take a look at some turning points in aviation’s past and get you inspired about studying Aviation abroad.

We’ve all wondered what it would be like to fly. Our fascination with the skies has effected not only the development of planes but the creation of an entire industry.  

Thousands of flights take off and land across a plethora of different tarmacs around the world every day without anybody batting an eyelid. But flying wasn’t always as easy as a credit card transaction and waiting in the queue at customs.

As well as providing us with new means of travel and engaging with the world around us, modern history has been coloured by key points in aviation’s past.  Let’s look back at some famed flights in aviation history that have shaped the industry as we know it today.

 

The Wright Brothers

In the most famous 12 seconds of all time, Wilbur and Orville Wright commandeered the first human flight in 1903. The first of the three ‘Wright Flyers’ ran on a simple four-cylinder engine, generating just under 16 horsepower for 15 seconds before dropping beneath 12 horsepower. This was only enough to get the brothers airborne for four short flights, the last of which was 59 seconds long.

The brothers were inspired by the glides of the German Otto Lilienthal, and funded their studies via profits of their bicycle repair and exchange shop. After Lilienthal tragically died during one of his glides, Wilbur wrote a letter to the Smithsonian Institute asking for information about aeronautics. Their experiments began in late 1899. Since, developments in aviation technology have not only opened up new potential for travel, but allowed us to cross new frontiers in realms of business, language, warfare and crime.

 

D.B. Cooper

One of the world’s most infamous heists happened whilst in flight. On November 24, 1971, a man only known as D.B Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727 somewhere between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Holding the passengers and crew hostage, Cooper threatened to detonate an explosive device unless he was paid $20,000 in $20 bills and given four parachutes. Cooper commanded the crew to land at Seattle, where the plane’s 36 passengers were released.

The Boeing was then directed to fly towards Mexico, but landed instead in Reno, Nevada. Upon landing, Cooper was no longer aboard: he had strapped the cash to his body and parachuted out of the plane somewhere over southwest Washington State. He was never seen again. The case is still open, and remains the only existing unsolved case of air piracy in American history.

 

Concorde

New developments in technology later saw the birth of the Concorde: one of the only two turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliners to fly commercially. Introduced on January 21, 1976, the Concorde gracefully retired on 24 October, 2003, after its last commercial flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow. 

The Concorde’s technology was cutting edge: boasting a take-off speed of 250mph and cruising speed of 1,350 mph, its fastest transatlantic crossing from New York to London clocked in at just 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds. Considering that one of the most common qualms about flying is that it takes too long, losing the Concorde was a bit of a blow.

The plane’s four engines used what is called ‘reheat’ technology, a process that adds fuel to the final stage of the engine to produce the extra power required for take-off and transition to supersonic flight.

However, the Concorde was not without its problems. An incredibly high-maintenance machine, the plane required vast amounts of fuel to get it off the ground and maintain cruising speed, whilst concerns of radiation were voiced as the plane flew up so high. If it weren’t for the investigation following the fatal Concorde crash on July 25, 2000, perhaps they would still be flying. 

Despite these hiccups, the Concorde remains an exemplary marvel of aviation technology. Even though its flying days are over, it has no doubt inspired change and inquiry into new modes of air travel.

 

The future

And the world of flight is far from finished evolving. With more and more avenues of study and job opportunities set to open up as the industry grows, there’s no time like the present to get on board.

 

Useful links:

Browse Aviation courses in the UK

Browse all Aviation courses abroad

 

 

 

 

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About Author

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.

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