The Invention of the Flight

Human beings have always wanted to fly and have been trying to design flying machines for years and centuries. Even the renowned 16th-century artist Leonardo da vinci made studies of his own aerodynamics and flying apparatus.

The first aeroplane that flew successfully by its own power was assembled by the American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright. It eventually made flights up to 260 metres (853 ft) long above a beach in North Carolina in 1903. The Voison brothers in France were making aeroplanes for commercial use the very next year. However, it was the need for military aircraft in World War 1 that prompted swift advances in aviation technology.

First Aviators

The Wright brothers flight on 17 December 1903 lasted for less than a minute but was a successful triumph. Their aeroplane, called 'Flyer' weighed 275 kilograms (605 pounds) and had a tiny engine with a propeller. Movable wing tips enabled the direction of the plane to be controlled. The Wright brothers achievement made them very famous and they went on to develop many more similar planes.

Only 23 years after the Wright brothers took to the air, a young American aviator became the first person to fly solo non-stop acroos the Atlantic ocean. His name was Charles Lindbergh and his journeys from New York to Paris took 33 and a half hours. The 5,800 kilometre (3,600 miles) flight in his plane, 'Spirit of St.Louis', ended on 21st May 1927 in Paris. Charles Lindbergh was greeted by large cheering crowds and became an instant international hero.

Modern Aeroplanes Emerge

In the 1920s and 1930s, aeroplanes provided a new form of transport. Regular commercial flights between London and Paris began in 1919, transatlantic flights in 1939. Flying boats (aircraft that can land on water) were often used at first because they did not need airports, but the biggest success was the Douglas DC-3 'Dakota', some of which were still flying in the 1990s.

Aeroplanes grew safer, larger and faster. During World War 2, new types of aircraft, such as helicopters, were developed. By the 1950s, jet-powered aeroplanes began to replace ships for long-distance travel.

Flight facts:

France: The first people to fly ascended in the Montgolfier brothers balloon in 1783.

Brazil: Alberto Santos-Dumont built the first microlight aircraft in 1907.

Germany: The first jet aircraft to fly was a Heinkel He 178 in 1939.

USA: More than 300,000 warplanes were built from 1941 to 1945.