Each year on August 19th, the United States celebrates National Aviation Day, a day to wonder on the power of flight and appreciate the history that led up to aviation as we know it today. Thanks to various scientific and technological inventions, in just a handful of generations aviation went from a crazy dream to a regular mode of transport, so here’s a little look at how we got here.
1. Some key moments in the history of aviation
- 1st Century AD- according to legend, Chinese Emperor Wang Mang ordered a soldier to strap two wings to his back, who then succeeded in flying 100 metres.
- 9th Century AD – it is said that Abbas ibn Firnas covered himself with feathers, attached wings to his body and (according to Algerian historian Ahmed Mohammed al-Maqqari) “flew a considerable distance.”
- 1799 – English engineer Sir George Cayley described the model for a modern airplane, consisting of a fixed-wing machine with lift, propulsion and control mechanisms.
- August 19th 1871 – Orville Wright born in Dayton, Ohio, brother to Wilbur, born in Millville, Indiana, on April 16th 1867.
- December 17, 1903 – The Wright Brothers completed a sustained flight of a heavier-than-air aircraft four miles south of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. This is widely credited to have been the first of its kind, however there are still various contradictory stories.
2. The start of something new
The aviation sector has seen many changes over the centuries, and this continues to be the case as scientists seek ways to reduce, or get rid of entirely, the heavy CO2 emissions that the mode of transport produces. From electric planes to flying taxis, airships and even flying cars, there is still so much to explore, and this extends further even, into space explorations and the future possibility of space tourism. Technology and knowledge combined have brought us a long way, but there is still a lot more to explore, and National Aviation Day is a way to celebrate this.