Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., can view the record-setting aircraft that pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew nonstop around the world in nine days in December 1986. The Rutan Model 76 Voyager Took off from the runway at Edwards Air Force Base on December 14 and landed back at the base 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds later, having covered a distance of 40,212 km as certified by the FAI – Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The Rutan Voyager was designed by Dick Rutan’s brother Burt, a visionary aerospace engineer who has created more than 360 original concepts for aircraft, with 45 of his designs taking flight, some with commercial success, and others as record breakers or research craft.
SpaceShipOne was another of Rutan’s designs to grab news headlines, as in June 2004 it became the first privately built and funded manned aircraft to reach space. After completing a second flight to space within two weeks, the aircraft was awarded the Ansari X Prize of US$10 million. The Ansari X Prize is intended to encourage innovation of low-cost spaceflight.
In March 2005, the single-engine Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, piloted by Steve Fossett, completed the first solo non-stop and non-refueled flight around the world in 2 days, 19 hours and 1 minute. The aircraft was designed by Burt Rutan and built by his company, Scaled Composites. Between February 7 and February 11, 2006, Fossett piloted the GlobalFlyer for the longest flight in history, covering a distance of 41,467.53 km. The aircraft now forms part of the NASM collection which includes six Rutan-design aircraft.
Rutan also designed a range of homebuilt aircraft, with his first being the VariViggen which he started building in 1968 in his home garage, and flew for the first time in April 1972. As he did not have wind-tunnel facilities, Rutan reportedly tied a model of the VariVigen to the roof of his station wagon and measured the forces while driving at speed on empty roads. The Rutan VariEze was based on the VariViggen, and in 1975, piloted by Dick Rutan, it set a world distance record in its class. The Quickie was a single-seat sport aircraft designed by Rutan, which was marketed by Quickie Aircraft for some years. The Canada Aviation and Space Museum has an original Quickie aircraft in their collection.
Born in Oneonta, New York, on April 7, 1896, Sherman Mills Fairchild made a major contribution to the development of the aviation industry with his many inventions. An astute businessman, Fairchild founded more than seventy companies, including the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, the parent company for many of his aviation-related firms. In addition to designing and building aircraft, Fairchild developed aerial photography for commercial and military use, with his inventions for aerial photography being used on NASA Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17.
Some of Sherman’s earliest airplane designs were inspired by the need for an aircraft that could accommodate the aerial photography he was working on. At the time he had been using a World War I Fokker D.VII biplane, with which he undertook his first aerial mapping of a major city – Newark, New Jersey. This proved to be such a success that he was appointed by the Laurentide Paper Company to perform aerial mapping of Canada in 1923. This was followed by an aerial map of Manhattan Island, which led to other cities using aerial mapping as a less expensive, and quicker, alternative to ground surveying. Frustrated by the fact that existing planes lacked the maneuverability that aerial photography required, Fairchild formed the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, based in Long Island, and designed and built the FC-1. The company built and delivered 300 FC-2, the production model of the FC-1, between 1927 and 1930 and during this time, and in subsequent years, Fairchild dominated the aviation industry.
While Fairchild formed, merged, split, sold and rebought his companies over the years, he continued to make significant contributions to the rapidly advancing technology of aviation. His PR-19 was the aircraft of choice for training military pilots prior to World War II, while the aptly nick-named “Flying Boxcar”, the C-82, was used for military transport. Other notable aircraft included the C-119 Flying Boxcar, of which more than 1,100 were produced, the C-123 Provider, and the A-10 Thunderbolt – nicknamed the “Warthog”.
Sherman Mills Fairchild was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1979. He had also been awarded fellowships in the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, and received recognition for his accomplishments from the Smithsonian Institution.
The history of the invention of the airplane more often than not brings to mind the Wright Brothers – Wilbur and Orville – and their innovative developments leading to the legendary event of the first heavier-than-air, controlled and powered flight on December 17, 1903. The Wright Brothers were born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and their ground-breaking work was carried out there. Sadly, Wilbur Wright didn’t live to see the impact of his work on the world, as he passed away at the age of 45 on May 30, 1912, reportedly from typhoid. One hundred years later, to commemorate the life and achievements of this visionary inventor, a team of graduate students in the Public History program of Wright State University have compiled an exhibit focusing on Wilbur Wright which will be on display at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton until the end of 2012.
Wilbur and Orville’s father, Bishop Milton Wright, upon the death of his son wrote in his diary that Wilbur’s life had been short, but full of consequences. The exhibit uses this observation in the title of the exhibit “Wilbur Wright: A Life of Consequence”. The exhibit focuses on Wilbur as an individual as opposed to the way he is usually seen, as part of a team. Visitors to the exhibit will gain insight into his character, his life as a son, brother and uncle, as well as his legacy.
Certainly, Wilbur Wright’s death had a profound impact on his hometown and made headlines around the world. The Woodland Cemetery, which organized the 100th anniversary memorial service, noted in a statement that following Wilbur’s death thousands of people lined up to honor him as his body lay in state in Dayton’s First Presbyterian Church. Church bells tolled across the city at 3:30pm. Streetcars and trains stopped and businesses closed while Dayton citizens observed five minutes of silence as a token of respect. On June 1, 2012, a memorial service was held at 3pm at his graveside in Woodland Cemetery, with several churches tolling bells, while people observed a moment of silence.
Carillon Historical Park covers 65-acres and features 25 special exhibit buildings for visitors to explore. One of the highlights of the museum complex is the actual 1905 Wright Flyer III which took to the air with Orville as its pilot on June 23, 1905. Further record-breaking flights took place that year at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field outside Dayton, Ohio. The 1905 Wright Flyer III is the only airplane designated as a US National Historic Landmark.
Everyone knows that one of the noisiest places in a city is an airport. With massive airbuses and other aircraft taking off and landing at regular intervals, airports are usually located on the outskirts of a city to avoid the city being subjected to the constant roar of jet engines. Three designers got together to combine their creativity and aviation knowledge to design a futuristic aircraft and system that will reduce noise levels at airports and help with fuel consumption of aircraft. They have named it the MagLevAir.
Deniz Ors, George Milde and Leonie Lawniczak are the designers of the MagLevAir, which they are hoping will assist the aircraft of the future during lift off from the runway. The MagLevAir is designed to shuttle the aircraft down the runway and then to propel it into the air, taking on the form of a type of catapult. This system will need a shorter distance for take off and will use magnets to launch the aircraft into the air. Aircrafts making use of the MagLevAir will also carry less fuel, either making them lighter or giving them a longer range with the fuel on board. As for the aircraft, in order for them to take to the skies after the MagLevAir has boosted them into the air, the designers have suggested the use of scramjets.
Unlike conventional jet engines that use air to spray their fuel into the compressed air that then ignites to produce the thrust needed to move forward, a scramjet uses the compressed air created by the movement of the aircraft. The MagLevAir will create the minimum speed needed for the scramjet to operate, and allow the aircraft to take off once it has been lifted in the air. The MagLevAir was designed for the use at smaller airports where space is limited and a reduction in noise level will be welcomed, as the new MagLevAir and aircrafts will transport their passengers to bigger airports, where larger jet aircraft are available.
Hallmarks of Honda’s products have always been great design, innovation and low cost. This certainly continues to be the case with the company’s new venture into the realm of aviation. The Honda Aircraft Company Inc (HACI) has been hard at work creating the recently released HondaJet.
The new HondaJet is a 5/6 + 2 seat jet with a changeable configuration that can make the aircraft suitable as an air taxi or business jet. As is typical of the company, they’ve broken a few rules and come out on top. One of the first things you’ll notice about the aircraft is that the engines have not been placed at the rear section of the fuselage as is typical of business jets. Instead they have been uniquely positioned above the aircraft’s wings. Previously it was thought that this position would increase drag and reduce range, but it seems that extensive modelling and testing has proved that the concept doesn’t just fly – it flies well. And the change in design means that HondaJet owners can enjoy more cabin space.
Another very prominent feature is the unusual shape of the aircraft’s nose. A far cry from the sleek, narrow facades we’ve become used to seeing in this kind of aircraft, one cannot but help wonder why Honda chose this design. It turns out that not only does the bulbous front create extra room in the cockpit, but that it improves laminar flow over the fuselage. This further helps to reduce drag and so improves range.
Clearly chief designer and Honda Aircraft Company Inc CEO Michimasa Fujino has invested a lot of time and money in developing the aircraft’s design. The end product is an aircraft that has a comparable range and carrying capacity to the Citation CJ1 + (Cessna). However the plane is smaller and retails for around $3.6m instead of the $4.3m price tag on its competitor aircraft. The GE/Honda HF 120 engines that have been fitted to the aircraft also make it possible for the HondaJet to reach higher max cruise speeds than the Cessna – something which may be curtailed in future. With the executive jet market suffering as it is, this economical, well-designed, cheaper aircraft will likely receive a lot more attention from prospective buyers than its competitors.
Hosted by Aircraft Specialists Jet Center and presented by “Flying” magazine, Parade of Planes Lawrenceville takes place 13-15 August 2009. This event is dedicated to providing the aviation consumer with up-to-date information on the very latest in aviation products and technology.
Date: 13-15 August 2009
Venue: Gwinnett County Airport
City: Lawrenceville, Georgia
Hosted by Volo Aviation and presented by “Flying” Magazine, Parade of Planes Hayward will take place 15-17 October 2009. Would-be and current aircraft owners will have the benefit of expert advice on the latest in aviation products and technology as they view the many exhibits.
Date: 15 -17 October 2009
Venue: Hayward Executive Airport
City: Hayward, California
While airlines have been toying with the idea of in-flight internet access for some time now, decreasing passenger numbers and increasing competitiveness between rival airlines in the US, may prove to be the driving force behind the idea becoming a reality. A number of US carriers, including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, are either testing or have reached the stage of implementing Wi-Fi access on selected flights, marketing this facility as a draw-card for passengers.
It has been one hundred years since the Admiralty first put aside funds to have an airship built for the Royal Navy. The event was history in the making and before long the face of warfare changed completely.
It all began on May 7, 1909, when £35,000 were officially set aside for the development of a rigid airship that would compete with the threat offered by the German airship program. The result of research and development was the HMA 1 airship, more commonly known as the Mayfly. Unfortunately the Mayfly never actually flew as a strong gust of wind caused it to hit an obstruction and break in half. But the potential of having sea-based air power and the advantages it would provide in warfare were already clearly recognized, with the result that just three years later the first aircraft was launched from a moving ship. It was a momentous time and the Royal Navy has certainly never looked back. 2009 now marks the centenary of British naval air power. Naval air power has since proved to be of vital importance, helping Britain to dominate the Pacific theatre of World War II. Stephen Saunders, editor of ‘Jane’s Fighting Ships’, noted the reasons behind this advantage when he said: “Naval aviation is important because of the flexibility and independence that air power gives you. If you operate from ship you have a large moving airfield that can get to places that simply may not be served by an airstrip.”
After a hundred years of British naval air power, the Royal Navy has now seen fit to celebrate an illustrious and successful past. And why not? The navy’s Fleet Air Arm now boasts more than 250 aircraft and helicopters and so constitutes approximately one third of the UK’s air strength. The anniversary will be celebrated during the course of the year during a series of concerts, fly-pasts and other events. It will culminate on 7 May when both a modern and ancient Fleet Air Arm does a fly-past over HMS Illustrious aircraft carrier. The following day a formal service recognizing the centenary occasion will take place at St Paul’s Cathedral.
A team of researchers from the University of York’s Department of Electronics have won a European grant to help aerospace companies try to produce safer aircraft whilst at the same time reducing costs involved. The team will specifically be attempting to tackle the problem of trying to test aircraft equipment against electromagnetic interference during the manufacture process.