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Aviation History Research Papers

Aviation history research papers are custom written to focus on any era or event in the history of flight or air travel. Whether it is international or history within the United States concerning aviation, Paper Masters' writers can focus your project on exactly what you need them to write on.

As long as human beings have watched the birds in the sky, they have wanted to join them in flight. The ancient Greek myth of Icarus tells of Daedalus and his son constructing wings to escape from King Minos of Crete. When he flew to close to the sun, Icarus’ wings melted and he plunged to his death. True aviation history began when the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne, demonstrated their first hot air balloon to revolutionary France. Present on that day at Versailles were two future American presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Aviation HistoryIn the late 19th century, the industrial inventor, of which Thomas Edison was an archetype, were attempting to solve the mechanical problem of heavier-than-air flight. Orville and Wilbur Wright set a new mark in aviation history on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. With World War I in 1914, airplanes became an efficient killing machine, and the skies over Europe were witness to the exploits of men like Baron von Richtofen, the Red Baron, and American Eddie Rickenbacker.

One of the next major milestones in aviation history occurred in the 1927, when Charles Lindberg became the first man to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. Departing from New Jersey, Lindberg piloted the Spirit of St. Louis to Paris in thirty-three and one-third hours. The golden age of aviation history had begun, as pilots sought to establish new records. In 1947, US Army test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier.

Early Aviation History

It wasn’t a man or a woman who took to the skies for the first time. In September 1783, three barnyard animals were the first passengers in a hot air balloon flight in Paris. A sheep, duck and rooster were launched in a balloon designed and created by the Montgolfier brothers. Then, two months later, in a paper and silk hot air balloon powered by a wood fire and designed by the same brothers, two noblemen from Louis XVI’s court rose about 500 feet above the rooftops in a 22-minute flight from the center of Paris to vineyards miles away. Upsetting local farmers, the pilots presented them with champagne in celebration of their success, a tradition that is still honored today. Other balloon flights followed, including one a year later by Jacques Charles, a Parisian physicist, who flew more than 27 miles in a hydrogen-filled balloon with two passengers on board. Balloons flew across the English Channel and in Philadelphia and Nebraska, where the first free flight carrying a passenger took place. Dubbed the official birthday of today’s hot air balloon, the polyurethane-coated nylon envelope was inflated and powered by a propane burner. Balloon flight got us off the ground and gave us a preliminary understanding of the relationship between the atmosphere and altitude. But it was even years before that, in 1716, that the first scientific paper on aviation was published. In it, a flying machine with wings made of a light frame and covered with canvas was described. From there, many others explored the notion of getting off the ground. And then, in 1903 entrepreneurs Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the world’s first flying machine.

The Wright brothers have come to be known as the inventors of flight. Their success has been the subject of much debate throughout history because of recorded attempts to fly by many others and as early as 1825, when Hans Andreas Naverstad allegedly flew a manned glider in Norway. But each recorded event shows the different stages aviation history went through to get to where it is today. The reason why the Wright brothers are so important in the evolution of aviation is not only because it was the first flight ever to be photographed, but it followed years of research and development. And when the four flights were made in December of 1903, they are considered to be the first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air flights made. The Wright brothers’ invention led to the next period in aviation history.  

The Golden Age of Aviation

During the first three decades of the 1900s, aviation really took off as World War I initiated many innovations including aerial warfare. Initially used for observation purposes, early wood and canvas aircraft were small and relatively agile. Unlike their ancestors, zeppelins and balloons, used for the same purposes, these planes could escape gunners on the ground and move fairly quickly out of the way. At first, pilots of these early war planes exchanged waves and smiles with their enemies. Then, the throwing of bricks and grenades progressed to handheld firearms and eventually to mounted guns. Thus, the era of air combat was born. Meanwhile, progress was being made in other areas of aviation history.

  • In June 1919, the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean was made by two British aviators, Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Whitten Brown. Battling engine trouble, snow, ice, and fog, the airmen flew a modified bomber powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle engines and flew 1,890 miles in just under 16 hours. Their average speed was 118 mph.
  • Less than 10 years after Alcock and Brown, Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. flew the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Earning him the Orteig Prize, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a ticker-tape parade in New York City and international fame, the flight in his single-engine plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, took Lindbergh 33.5 hours, which started from Roosevelt Airfield on Long Island, New York and ended in Paris.
  • Lindbergh's time was almost cut in half by his grandson, Erik Lindbergh, 75 years later as he recreated his grandfather’s famous trip.
  • Today the average flight from New York to Paris takes 7 hours and 13 minutes. 

The Modern Age of Aviation

The rest of the 20th century showed many gains in the aviation industry. In October, 1947, Chuck Yaeger took the Bell X-1, a rocket-powered jet past the speed of sound. After World War II, the commercial airline industry also took off, along with America’s quest to be the first nation on the moon. That was accomplished in 1969, the same year Boeing introduced its Boeing 747, still one of the largest aircrafts ever to fly. The dawn of the 21st century saw the possibility of air travel without pilots as a few unmanned aerial vehicles were developed and tested. The race to go higher and faster continues as promises of flights into space are available to anyone who can afford to buy a seat. And like the race to space, the promise of bigger and faster planes will continue to be fulfilled as long as there are people who need to fly.

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