The Birth of Air Travel

Topics: Wright brothers, Pan American World Airways, Otto Lilienthal Pages: 8 (2473 words) Published: November 8, 2011
The Birth of Air Travel

Air travel has influenced our everyday living it effects our social, economic and political surroundings. It affects the way people live and work as well as influence our relationships with other nations. From its beginning, air travel has developed into the most popular form of long distance travel in the world. These dreams became reality in the 20th century. In 1938 less than 300 cities and towns in the United States were served by air carriers, today, more than 650 cities have them.

Accordingly, I will begin this paper by examining, (1) Otto Lilienthal, a German Engineer who was the first man to launch himself into the air and fly. (2) The birth of air travel and how it starts with the Wright Brothers and their determination and engineering skills to create and fly the first airplane. It was in December of 1903, that Orville Wright left Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in the world’s first powered flight. His flight covered 120 feet and proved to be one of the greatest moments in history. (3) The first commercial flight to carry airmail was on July 1, 1926, by Colonial Air Transport. (4) Charles Lindbergh made the first transatlantic crossing in 1927. (5) Boeing builds the first plane to carry passengers. It held 12 passengers and first flew on July 27, 1928. (6) In 1911, Calbraith Perry makes the first transcontinental flight across the United States. He begins his flight in New York City and lands in Pasadena, California in 19 days. (7) Pan Am airlines use the Boeing 314 Clipper ship to make the first transatlantic flight.

Otto Lilienthal was born in Pomerania, Germany in 1848. He was interested in flight at a very young age. He had committed himself to studying the principles of aerodynamics and he analyzed how birds flew before he attempted to apply these principles to a structure.

In 1889, Lilienthal wrote a book on the flight of birds that outlined his theories in which became one of the classics of aviation. He examined the types and structures of bird’s wings, the methods and aerodynamics of bird’s flight. He described how birds propelled themselves by a twisting action of their outer feathers. He then formulated the amount of air resistance offered to a bird's wing within various degrees and determined the curve that was necessary for flight.

In 1891, he built his first glider which was named, the Derwitzer Glider. His first flights only took him a few feet, but gradually the distance lengthened until he could glide almost 80 feet. His glider originally had a wingspan of 25 feet, but during the course of his experiment, he reduced its span to about 18 feet. In 1892, he constructed a more sophisticated glider with fabric that covered both sides of the wings. This glider had a wingspan of 31 feet. He was able to fly this up to a distance of 270 feet but he soon realized that he needed more flying space. (

In 1894, he built an artificial hill that he could run down. He was able to glide more than 150 feet. Next, he decided to build gliders with flapping wings in the ornithopter fashion. Each machine had a lightweight carbonic acid engine that produced about two horsepower. The engine was supposed to make the wing tips flap up and down and move the aircraft forward. From 1894 until his death in 1896, Lilienthal constructed his ôstandardö glider. These monoplanes were highly successful. He was able to glide from 300 feet to more than 750 feet.

He had become a skilled pilot and could ride the wind and handle his aircraft skillfully. On August 9, 1896, the glider he was piloting stalled and went into a nosedive and he died the next day of a broken spine. His last words were ôSacrifices must be made.ö ( Before his death in 1896, he had built eighteen models—fifteen monoplanes and three biplanes. He had also...
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