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Aircraft

Historic aeroplanes

Alberto Santos-Dumont's 14-bis (1906)Alberto Santos-Dumont's 14-bis (1906)The first aeroplanes were built for individuals to achieve fame and fortune, but it was not long before people began to realise what a formidable weapon of war the aeroplane might be. Many planes were made for specific use as fighters and bombers during World War I. After the war many bombers were converted into airliners, and by the time World War II had broken out, planes were capable of travelling much further. Aviation technology leapt forwards in the 1950s as manufacturers looked for ways to increase speed. Today, size and fuel efficiency are more important factors.

 

Wright Brothers' Flyer I (1903)

In the USA, two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, were experimenting with kites and gliders. They made thousands of test flights in their gliders, gradually perfecting their controls, including incorporating a mechanism which enabled the pilot to twist or "warp" the wings, and thus roll the aircraft to the left or right. In 1903 they finally built an aeroplane, called Flyer I, with a petrol engine. It was a biplane, with two sets of wings stacked one above the other.Flyer 1 takes off, 17th December 1903Flyer 1 takes off, 17th December 1903On the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, with Orville at the controls, Flyer I flew for 12 seconds before grounding 36.6 metres (120 feet) away—less than the wingspan of many modern airliners. It had made the first-ever powered, controlled aeroplane flight. The date was 17th December 1903.


Voisin-Farman I (1907)

The world's first aeroplane was the Wright Flyer I of 1903. It was the first heavier-than-air machine to make a controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.

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