Innovators and Inventors of Flight

Throughout the history of man, there has always been a huge fascination with flight. As far back as ancient Babylon and ancient Greek mythology, there is evidence showing that man had the desire to fly. In Babylon, the "Epic of Etana" describes a man flying on a giant eagle and operating the eagle as a flying machine. In ancient Greece, the story of Daedalus tells of a man who creates two flying machines to travel through the sky. More famously, Leonardo Da Vinci actually constructed a flying machine known as the ornithopter. This flying machine was well-constructed for its time, and it is thought that the machine would have flown once it was in the air. Unfortunately, however, Da Vinci's ornithopter did not have the ability to take off from the ground. It is thought that prehistoric man was inspired by winged animals, such as birds, in their desires to soar through the sky. Da Vinci confirmed this with his flying machine, citing birds and bats as inspiration for his design. While the fascination with flight remained, it wasn't until many years later that man would have the capability of taking flight.

The First Flight

Flights through the sky were attempted numerous times over the history of man. It wasn't until Dec. 17, 1903, that one of these flights was successful. This flight was made possible by the inventions and persistence of two bicycle rental and repair shop owners from Ohio: Wilbur and Orville Wright. The brothers from Ohio decided to experiment with flight following the death of German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal. Lilienthal had made several successful gliding flights but died when his glider stopped during an attempt to make another flight. In the beginning, the Wright brothers were inspired by Lilienthal, but eventually, they developed their own techniques and theories. These theories and many experiments led them to create the Wright Flyer I, in which the first flight in a powered plane was taken. Although this flight only lasted 12 seconds, it opened the door for further aviation and developments in the field.

Flight Throughout History

Once the first flights in aircraft were taken, it was possible for the Wright brothers and other pioneer aviators to develop new ideas for improvements on these aircraft machines. With modifications, people in aviation were able to achieve exciting accomplishments in flight. For instance, in 1906, Alberto Santos-Dumont was able to make a successful flight across Europe. A few years later, in 1909, Louis Bleriot traveled across the English Channel by plane. By 1927, Charles Lindbergh was able to make a nonstop flight across the Atlantic. These accomplishments kept the field of aviation in the headlines and led to even more impressive inventions. By 1930, Frank Whittle was able to invent a jet engine that majorly altered aviation technology. Little by little, improvements to the original design and new concepts led to the development of airplanes as we known them today. While one is searching for plane tickets for their next vacation, they often do not put much thought into all of the innovators and inventors in aviation that made air travel possible. Without all of these great inventors, man would also never have reached the moon. The world would certainly be a different place today had it not been for the contributions of the dreamers and inventors in the field of aviation.

Women in Aviation

In the beginning of aviation history, it was entirely a men's field. A few brave women, however, did not let this keep them away from their dreams of flying high in the sky. One of the most notable women in aviation is Amelia Earhart. She was the first female to fly on a solo trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart was a huge supporter of women in the aviation field, and she worked to inspire other women to become involved in the field as well. Her records and flights made her famous, but Earhart desired to make history by completing a flight around the world. Earhart completed about two-thirds of the flight around the world before mysteriously vanishing on July 2, 1937. It is commonly believed that Earhart's plane ran out of fuel looking for her next landing place at Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean, though no one knows for sure. Searches for the plane have come up empty, and her remains were never found. Other notable women in the field of aviation include E. Lillian Todd, the first woman to design and build a plane; Therese Peltier, the first woman to pilot an aircraft; and Raymonde de Laroche, the first woman in the world to have a pilot license. Another impressive woman in the field of aviation is Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. All of these women have made great strides in the field of aviation and are inspirations for young girls and women around the world.