The History of Flying

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Gazing at birds, renaissance philosophers, dreaming about breaking the bonds of gravity. This was the elusive, ultimate success of man. We have mastered the sea, we have mastered the land, all that is left is flying up to the heavens. Da Vinci’s dream was first realised by the Wright Brothers

First Flight

While they were not the first to dream, that belongs in the annuls of classical history with Icarus and some feathers, it is well known that the first flying machine was developed by the Wright Brothers.

December 17th 1903, 10:35am, 12 seconds and 120 feet, Orville Wright.

That is the famous first flight. The less famous second flight piloted by Wilbur Wright at 11:20am of 195 feet was still less than the wingspan of a contemporary Boeing 747 (196 feet). Since that first breakthrough on a winter morning in North Carolina, flight has undeniably come so far as to look back and feel like it has always been.

Some question if the Wright Brothers device was truly an ‘airplane’. If you are going to think along these lines, first you must define the term airplane? The common definition of both Oxford and Collins dictionaries for airplane (or aeroplane in British English) is a powered vehicle with fixed wings, heavier than air, and achieves lift. While you may debate that the Wright Flyer didn’t sustain flight long enough, or was more of a gliding device. It is hard to argue that in the basic details, the Wright Flyer was an airplane.

Early Flying. Post and Passengers

Even once attained, flight didn’t take the form we know until much later. The early widespread commercial use of airplanes was promoted by the U.S. Post Office, to move mail quickly between cities in the 1920’s. At this stage, airplanes didn’t have the range to fly very far. In fact, it took longer to fly across great distances than it took to take the train!

Passenger movement was not a priority for these new airplane companies. During the 20’s if you were a passenger, you didn’t get to enjoy a movie, eat microwaved food and sip a shiraz. No, flying in early days was more raw an experience than we are accustomed today. Passenger rides consisted of strapping into a metal cylinder, not pressurised, exposed to the altitude air temperature, turbulence, exhaust smells and all the harshness of flight. Only in the mid 30’s did the passenger services begin to resemble a Qantas flight to Melbourne.

The Birth of Commercial Aviation as We Know It

The 1930’s saw commercial aviation grow rapidly in comfort and speed. The biggest advantage was the increases in cruising speeds. The trip from England to Singapore was shrunk to a short 11 days. The 30’s saw beds, lounges, food service and quietened cabins introduced, setting the standard for contemporary flying services.

If your imagination is stuck in the clouds and you’re contemplating a change of career, or would like to pursue recreational flying, contact us at Bunbury Flying School. We will get you in the air and teach you how to become a pilot in no time.

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