Isn’t it fascinating that we can now fly to any part of earth without hassles? Few decades back, who would have thought that we could fly in the air even without a pair of wings? The idea of soaring high like birds and kites has been the inspiration of the inventors of Aeroplane. There was a time when travelling was not as easy as it is today. One had to spend days for travelling from one part to another. Needless to say, Invention of Aeroplane has revolutionized travelling experience for people across the world.
Man’s romance with skies started back in 18th century when Hot Air Balloon was launched in France. This amazing invention was done by Montgolfier Brothers in 1783. François Laurent d'Arlandes and Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier were passengers of the first flight. But there was one problem with these hot air balloons that they could not be directed to the location one wanted to visit. Rather wind was one that decided destination and direction of balloon.
With more research and time invested in the concept of flying in the air, gradually led to invention of gliders. This non motorized flying mechanism was better than the hot air balloon. Earliest glider that could really fly was developed by George Cayel. And in 1843, William Henson made the plans for model plane which unfortunately proved to be a disappointment for him. And soon after, his friend named John Stingfellow designed a plane with the same model and succeeded. This plane managed to fly but did not stay in the air for a long time.
Year 1880 witnessed earliest steam power airplanes. And during this time, Hiram Maxiam came up with steam powered flying machine too. As the machine was bulky, it could not ever become airborne. Samuel Langley also tried his hand on the steam powered planes and introduced one in 1894, the one that covered around 0.8 kms in around 1½ minutes. Then he designed another plane but its flights led to crashing in the lake. And finally in 19th century, the heroes- Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright, that are known to endow successful Aeroplane, became interested in the concept of flying.
The first step towards the successful invention of Aeroplane, was research through reading various books on it. The brothers built and tested the gliders. They chose Kitty Hawk in North Carolina as the test site due its sand, wind, hilly terrain, and the remote location. In year 1900, the Wright brothers tested the new biplane glider with 17 foot wing warping technique and wingspan, weighing 50 pound at the Kitty Hawk, in piloted as well unmanned flights. Based on the glider’s results, the brothers planned on refining landing gear and controls and designed a larger glider.
In the year 1901, at the Kill Devil Hill in North Corolina, the brothers flew largest glider ever. With 100 pound weight and 22 foot wingspan, the boys geared up for their glider’s flight. But as nothing comes easy, the glider faced problems too. The wings did not have enough power to lift, forward elevator was not that effective and its wing warping technology caused it to spin out of control occasionally.
In spite of all the problems being faced by them, Wrights refused to give up. They were fighters in true sense; they keep reviewing the test results till they found out that the calculations used for the mechanism were not up to the mark. Then they thought of building wind tunnel for testing the wing shapes and their effect on the lift. Based on the tests, the inventors tried to understand how airfoil wing worked and calculated how well a wing design could work. Their plan was to design the new glider with around 32 foot wingspan and tail for stabilization.
During 1902, the Wrights flew a number of test glides of the new glider. Their research showed that a movable tail would be of help in balancing craft so they connected one for coordinating turns. With the passing time, they invented various things like flaps on wings and rudder. These two brothers were the first ones to add the concept of navigation on the glider. So they gave a glider that allowed pilots to control the height and direction of glider in the air. And these improvements continued for a couple of years. With the success of their test flight with wind tunnels, they planned of building powered aircrafts.
And towards end of year 1903, the Wright Brothers effectively flew earliest plane with a man on it. The earliest of their flights covered around 120 feets in span of 12 seconds. And in the same day, the brothers had another 2 successful flights. Amongst all, longest was by Wilbur that covered around 892 feet and stayed in the air for 59 seconds.
Their first powered Aeroplane was named Flyer. It was plane with two wings and 12 horse powered engine. It also had wooden wings which were 40 feet wide, covered with the cotton cloth. This plane demanded pilot to be in lower wing on his stomach for the steering. And in year 1908, another plan was introduced by the brothers that stayed in the air for about 1½ hours. In year 1909, the brothers got a contract from US military for building first plane for them. In 1911, Calbriath Rodgers was the one that made first flight across U.S possible.
Since then, Airplane travel has improved a lot. Airplanes now cover thousands of miles at great altitudes of 7 miles and more, carrying around 300 passengers. These passengers comfortably travel across the world on these airplanes. Jet engines have now replaced the propellers and they travel with speed of more than 600 miles every hour. Not even Wright Brothers would have imagined the way air travel has turned today. Consistent efforts and hardwork of the Brothers and other inventors have offered the comfort of air travel today. The best part is that in innovations never stop, they are ongoing. So, one can look forward to advancements in the field.