Aviation… Conquest Of The Sky since 1818
From ancient times men dreamed of leaving the ground. The easiest way to do this was to fall off a cliff, neither the safest nor the most efficient way to do so. Something radical had to be conceived, something that employed mechanical innovations and science to a whole new level. They had to create engines and motors…
From dead start the aviation was clearly restricted to non powered controversial flight machines, innovated by pioneers(Leonardo Da Vinci etc) who were magested with the prospect of a man flying. Some mechanical propulsion also was tried out but failed catastrophically, mainly because the power/weight ratio of pre-oil engines was that awful that they had no chance of lifting them selfs .
At last a breakthrough came at the end of the 18th century. On 21 november of 1783, in Paris, the first untethered manned balloon took to the skies. The dreams of many people came true by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.
The next step and the first study of the air and aviation came at the 19th century while the perfection of the infamous rigid airship more known in our days as Zeppelins.
The zeppelins proved excellent testing beds both for civil and military aviation, earning violable know how for the humanity and attracting man and brains in a field, were not long before was considered, madness or witchery. These flying devices dominated the skies for the haul 19th to the 20th century and paved the way and built the infrastructure and demants for the future breakthrough, the fixed wing aircraft.
In the very early 20th century there were many attempts to create an aircraft, accompanied by some real misses and a very big death toll and numerous injury listings. But, although all the misfortunes, at 17th December 1903 at Kitty Hawk US of America Orville and Wilbur Wright materialized the dreams of countless people in history, achieving the first fixed wing engine powered aircraft take off-Sustained and controlled fight-and made a somewhat controlled landing in known history. The first flight lasted 12 seconds for a total distance of 120 ft (36.5 m), but it was more than enough. The rest are history which can be seen even today in the air. DC3s, Comets, Jumbo Jets, Concord…in a little more than one century, the totally empty skies are crowded with metal behemoths that connect us to any corner on earth and deliver any kind of goods in virtually overnight.
Gyrocopter - Gyro - Autogyro
Next target? Vertical takeoff. All the great myths describing flying objects that can carry men(magic carpet, Chinese magical chair) had one think in common, they did not require a runway.At early 20s the target was achieved.At first in the form of a gyrocopter(gyro/autogyro), which is a hybrid between a wingless aircraft and helicopter flew at 9 January 1923. Although most of them were not capable of a complete vertical takeoff, but more concentrated to STOL(Short Take-Off and Landing) performance until late 30s.
Helicopters - The angel of mercy
During the WWII vertical take off was needed for spacial opperations(See Mussolini's escape from Campo Imperatore, which was to be conducted by a prototype helicopter). Aircraft require a runways to take off and the size, slow vertical and horizontal speed of hotair ballons and zepelins made them unfit for those rolls. Then came a revolution, based on an existing concept. Grasping the advancements of gyroplanes and developing them further in order to overcome the problem of taking off weigh, the German company Focke-Wulf developed the model 61 which flew first time on 1934.Although not very successful in WWII, after WWII and especially in Korean/Vietnam battlefields the helicopters redeemed themselves, making them one of the most valuable and versatile tools of US forces and especially in EVAC(evacuation) operations and transport of wounded soldiers , earning the Bell Huey the title the angel of mercy.
Of course many advancement and improvements came into effect till today each one making its impact in history of aviation.Who doesn`t know the names Sikorsky, Agusta-Bell, Robinson, if you don`t you have the problem my fellow readers.