Friday, December 9, 2011

Top 10 Technological Achievements in Aeronautical History

Since its invention about a century ago, the airplane has developed from two wooden planks held together by wires to a giant metal bird comprising of millions of parts. The airplanes have completely revolutionized the world, in each and every aspect. Who could’ve thought a few hundred years ago that Man would one day take to the skies?
Following is a list of the most important technological achievements in aeronautical industry that transformed the airplane into what it is today.

The Wright Brothers
Wright Brothers

Of course all aeronautical technology wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for Wright brothers, who made the World’s first successful airplane that took to the skies on December the 17th, 1903 with Orville Wright at the controls. Without their efforts the idea of flying would still be a dream. Their invention of the airplane is not only the “Most Important Technological Achievement in Aeronautical History” but also the “Most Important Invention in Human History”.
The Airship
The Airship
The airship or dirigible can rightly be described as an aerostat or a lighter-than-air aircraft. The first successful airships were built by the French in the late 18th century. In appearance, the airship is an elliptical balloon attached to a car at the bottom. The airship was the main aeronautical vehicle, commercial and combat, during the first two decades of the 20th century. The airship serves as a recreational vehicle today.
The Heinkel He 176 became the first rocket-powered aircraft to have flown on 20th June 1939. Since then aircrafts have used this technology to conquer the air at higher speeds and altitudes. The current record is held by the rocket-powered North American X-15 at over 7000 km/h in speed and 328,084 ft in altitude.
The Aircraft Carrier
Aircraft Carrier
Although aircraft carriers are classified under naval technology, they have completely altered the face of the combat aircraft, broadening its horizons for development. The first aircraft carrier to have set sail was the French La Foudre (1911). Today the US Military uses its Nimitz-class carriers in all overseas operations. The services rendered by these ships have proven invaluable to the US in its military campaigns.
Stealth Technology
Stealth Plane
The stealth technology allows the airplane to take the fight directly to the enemy without being seen. Most believe that the development of stealth technology began in Germany during the Second World War although nobody can say for certain as there is no evidence of this fact. Today, planes like the B2-Spirit and the F-22 Raptor dominate the skies with their state-of-the-art stealth capabilities, wrecking havoc before the enemy even knows what hit him.
UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are a very important aeronautical invention. The first UAV aircraft was the “Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane” built in 1916 during the First World War. Since then the UAVs have been developed and improved to flawlessness. Today the US’ Predator Drones serve as its military party-piece, a pilotless angel of death destroying its targets from above.
The Bell X-1
The Bell X-1
When the Bell X-1 made its maiden flight on January the 19th , 1946, it not only set a landmark in aeronautical history; it opened a whole new chapter aeronautical development, proving to the world that sound could be conquered. Its success opened the doors for the creation of many other aeronautical *landmarks* such as the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
In many opinions it may be the most important aeronautical invention, a deadly wasp causing devastation at an unimaginable scale is a missile. From the mammoth ballistic missile to your minute smart bullet, the missile dominates the battlefield of today, an unstoppable bringer of destruction.
Boeing 707
Boeing 707
Although this list focuses more on military-aeronautical technology, the importance of commercial planes cannot be overlooked when talking about aeronautics. Amongst these commercial planes the Boeing 707 holds the most importance. This plane defines the modern commercial aircraft. Or in other words, all commercial aircrafts today are inspired from this phenomenal metal-bird.
Jet Technology
Jet Technology
The most important element of an airplane is its engine. It determines the plane’s speed and altitude. The employment of the jet-engine in the airplane has been the most revolutionary technological development in aeronautical history. It has allowed airplanes to travel at faster speeds.


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