A brief history of aviation
We begin our look into our brief history of aviation in China sometime around 400 BC. The thought of flying up in the air has always fascinated folks. People’s thinking was farther affected upon seeing those kites that the Chinese had flown in ancient times. Kites that were made in China then were equally found for use in religious events as well as for recreation. There’s a unique type of kite that were made to test out the prevailing weather at that particular time. The concept of balloons and gliders began from the kite, therefore, kites are an important factor in mankind’s pursuit of aerial flight.
Mankind’s attempt at flight
Man’s motives for flight originated in seeing birds soaring up in the sky. Man then attempted to copy how a bird flies up in the air. Man tried to replicate the wings of birds using various kinds of materials. Naturally, man is unable to fly using the design of the birds wings. Unlike the birds, the bodies that we have weren’t designed to be carried aloft by wings. There was more to the birds being able to fly than just having wings.
Hero of Alexandria, an early Greek engineer by experimenting with various power sources, built the Aeolipile. When a jet of steam is directed into it, the Aeolipile would start a rotary or circular motion. A pot filled with water was utilized put over a fire was used by him. The Aeolipile was put over the pot. When water starts boiling and turns to vapor it moves into Aeolipile and starts turning it. That is considered important because Aeolipile is considered as the first known engine invented. In the evolution of flight, engines, up to this date, are very important in the development of man’s quest for flight.
1485 – Leonardo DaVinci studies flight
The first person to really extensively study what flight is about was Leonardo DaVinci. The Ornithopter was actually drawn by him . He produced more than 100 illustrations about his thoughts on flying with machines and flights of birds. The sketching consists of flying machine that take visitors up on a flight. He also drew some equipment to test how the wings and also the tails of the birds worked.
The Ornicopter was drawn by Leonardo to illustrate his vision of how a person can actually fly. Unfortunately it never progressed beyond the illustration. A physical version of it was never built. Leonardo’s drawings were even studied by the airplane’s first inventors. The Ornithopter, though turned out to be the basis for the helicopter that we know at present times.
First successful hot-air balloon flight
The hot-air balloon that made the first successful flight was designed by Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier in France on 1485. The mechanism was manufactured from a bag created from silk and had one basket carrier attached to it. Smoke coming from a fire placed in the basket produced heat inside the silk bag. The heated air then would rise, and since it was contained inside the silk bag, the silk bag floated up along with the hot air. The balloon carried as the first passengers a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The balloon went up to around 6000 feet and traveled over a mile.
As a result of being successful in their test flight, the siblings began carrying up folks in their hot-air balloons. Francois Laurent and Jean francois Pilatre de Rozier went up together in the initial manned trip done on Nov 21, 1783.
George Cayley with his glider, circa 1799-1850
George Cayley, known as the father of modern aerodynamics, recognized the forces acting up on an object that is in flight. The four aerodynamic forces are lift, gravity, thrust, and drag. He attempted many different designs of wings. The basic aircraft control surfaces that we know of today were all thought of by him. Controls such as steering rudders, the vertical tail control surfaces or the rear elevators. He made many variations of his gliders. Control of the glider is attained by the movement of the person’s body. The glider of Sir George Cayley is indeed the first ever to carry people in a heavier than air flying machine.
In a span of 50 years, George Cayley made many improvements to his glider. Modifications on the glider’s wing were made to get the proper airflow on the wing. A tail section was added for stability. For the structure of the glider to be stronger, the concept of biplane style design was adapted. He also knew at that time that the only way for this glider to remain up in the air for a considerable length of time was for it to have a mechanical engine.