The history of aviation is not only interesting but very important too, and there are several key events and developments that plot our path to commercial flight.
Although it ultimately proved an inefficient loss leader The Concorde is an important feature in aviation history. The first commercial supersonic mode of transport could travel the same distance as ordinary aircraft but in half the time making it very popular with jet-setting businessmen and high ranking politicians. Its main root was between Heathrow and JFK Airport in New York which it flew regularly from 1975 until its retirement in 2003. The Concorde suffered from economic issues for a long time and regular complaints from the public about noise pollution added to its problems until a Concorde aircraft crashed after take-off in Paris in July 2000, which practically solidified its termination.
The Boeing 747
The seminal commercial aircraft is without a doubt the Boeing 747, carrying between 416 and 524 passengers. It was the first wide-bodied aircraft used for commercial flights and over 1500 have been built so far. There are now a range of different Boeing 747s with cargo airliners, military command models and luxury planes operating in our skies. It is a bastion of trade based aviation and there’s not a better aircraft in production for business flying. Perhaps the most famous version is the VC-25 which is the selected model for Air Force One, used to transport the President of the United States and other important dignitaries around the world.
Several of the most important developments in aviation weren’t to do with the aircraft themselves but were subsidiary advances with technology. Radar is one such development, and the most significant. In 1917 Nikola Tesla invented radar to enable the British army to path and prepare for attacks during the Battle of Britain. 21st Century radar now serves to organise the high volume of air traffic, giving pilots the ability to fly in almost all weathers. Radar is one of the most important events in aviation because without it we wouldn’t be able to handle the thousands of aircraft in the sky day and night.
Sound Barrier Broken
In 1947 on the 14th of October A US Air Force Captain called Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager became the first human to break the sound barrier. Flying the Bell X-1 plane faster than the speed of sound over the California-Nevada test range Charles Yeager reached a peak of Mach 1.06, or 700 miles per hour. Arguably this achievement is more of an aviation milestone than an industry development but it is certainly noteworthy.
The Jet Engine
Both the turbo fan and turbo jet engines transformed aviation because the made higher speeds and higher altitudes possible which propeller driven planes simply couldn’t achieve. In 1910 a Romanian man called Henri Coanda patented his designs for jet propulsion. Prior to Germany introducing the world’s first jet powered fighter plane – the Messerschmitt 262 during World War 2, Britain experimented a lot with jet engine technology. It wasn’t until 1952 that the first jet engine aircraft, called the De Havilland Comet, officially started commercial services.