Today, we can reach any corner of the world within a couple of days. Whether you need to go from Japan to Middle East or from Europe to Africa, all you have to do is get your tickets booked and board your aeroplane on the scheduled day. Before you even know it, you will be standing at your destination. However life hasn’t always been so easy. There were times when people used to spend days going from one city to another, forget about crossing international borders. It was the invention of the airplane that changed the scenario completely. With this article, we intend to help you explore the history and origin of aeroplanes.
Interesting Information on Background of Aeroplanes
Man’s romance with the sky began in the late eighteenth century, with invention of the ‘Hot Air Balloon’, in Annonay, France. The credit for the invention goes to the Montgolfier Brothers, who made it a success in the year 1783. Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes were the passengers of the first flight. However, there was one problem with the hot air balloons; they could not be directed towards the place you wanted to go. Rather, it was the wind that decided the direction and the destination of the balloon.
With time, more research went into the concept of flying in air and gradually, it led to the invention of the glider. A non-motorized flying machine, it was an improvement over the hot air balloon. The first glider than actually flew was made by a man named Sir George Cayel. In 1843, William S. Henson made plans for a model plane, but it proved to be a failure. However, when his friend, John Stingfellow, tried to make a plane with the same model, he succeeded. The plane managed to fly, but could remain in the air for a short time only.
The year 1880 saw Cl`ement Ader making the first steam powered plane. Around this time only, Hiram Maxiam also built a steam-powered flying machine. However, being too heavy, the plane could never ever become airborne. In 1894, Samuel Langley made a steam powered plane, which covered 0.8 km in 1½ minutes. He made another plane also, but its flight resulted in crash landing in a lake. It was around the later 19th century that Wright Brothers - Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright, became interested in the concept of flying.
Their first step towards building an airplane comprised of reading books about airplanes. They made improvements on the glider and in 1899, came up with a large, two wing kite. With time, they invented things like rudder (the tail of the plane) and flaps on the wings. In fact, Wright brother were the ones who added the feature of navigation to the glider. In other words, they made a glider that would allow the pilot to control its direction and height in the air. The improvements continued for the next couple of years
In December 1903, Wright Brothers successfully flew the first plane with a person in it. The first flight covered only one hundred twenty feet, in about 12 seconds. The same day, they had two more successful flights. Amongst them, the longest was the one by Wilbur, which covered 892 feet and was airborne for about 59 seconds. Wright Brothers made their first powered airplane, named ‘Flyer’, in the year 1903. It was a biplane i.e. a two winged plane that boasted of a 12 horse power engine.
Apart from that, it also comprised of 40 feet wide, wooden wings that were covered with cotton cloth. The plane required the pilot to lie on the lower wing, on his stomach, for steering. It was in the year 1908 that the Wright Brothers made a plane that remained airborne for more that 1½ hours. In 1909, the Wright Brothers got a contract from the US military, to build the first military plane. The first flight across the United States, from Sheepshead Bay (New York) to Long Beach (California), was made by Calbriath Rodgers, in 1911.
The flight took 84 days and in-between, the plane crashed somewhere around 70 times. By the time it reached Long Beach, almost all its parts had been replaced by Rodgers. However, the total flight time was around 3 days, 10 hours and 24 minutes. With time, more improvements came to be made to the airplanes and gradually, they evolved to the ones that we see in use today. From the hot air balloon to the first plane of the Wright Brothers to the jet planes of today, aeroplanes have surely come a long way!