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The Airplane and Its History

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The Airplane and its History
Robert Dobson
Thomas Edison State University
THE AIRPLANE AND ITS HISTORY 2
The Airplane and its History I am currently finishing a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology degree in Aviation Flight Technology at Thomas Edison State University. I have also been a pilot for twenty years, professionally for the past sixteen years. For these reasons, I have chosen the airplane and its history as the technology that will serve as the subject of this assignment. First, I will explain what an airplane is. Next, I will explain how an airplane works. Finally, I will give a brief history of the airplane. So what is an airplane? I'm joking! Everyone in the world knows what an airplane is unless they've lived in a stone age society their whole life. Even so, I'll begin by defining exactly what an airplane is and how they work. An airplane is a powered, fixed-wing vessel that travels through the air (Airplane, n.d.). The airplane has wings that provide the force of lift in order for the airplane to overcome the force of gravity and climb off the ground and stay airborne. In order for the wings to do their job of providing lift, the airplane must be propelled forward so that the wings can get sufficient airflow to generate the necessary force and overcome the force of drag. The propulsion methods usually employed are through use of engine driven propellers or jet engines. These provide the force of thrust to move the aircraft forward. Many variations exist as to the configuration of these methods to generate propulsion. Some common configurations are propellers in a forward pull location, a rearward push location, wing mounted, or a push-pull arrangement. Jet engines are typically mounted either on the wings or aft on the fuselage of the airplane. The airplane also needs to have control surfaces that enable stable control of the aircraft. These control surfaces usually include ailerons, an elevator, and a rudder. I'll continue by explaining some of these things in greater depth beginning with the wing
THE AIRPLANE AND ITS HISTORY 3 and the forces of lift and gravity. Gravity is the force generated by objects with mass, such as the earth, that have an attractive force that draws other objects toward them. This is the main obstacle to flight. The wing of an airplane needs to generate enough force that can overcome the force of gravity in order for the aircraft to become airborne, climb, and maintain level flight. The wing, also known as an airfoil, generates the necessary lift according to a mechanic known in fluid dynamics as Bernoulli's principle. Wings are designed in such a way that the upper surface is curved while the bottom surface is straight, resulting in a greater distance across the top than the distance on the bottom. As the airplane is driven forward to enable airflow over the surface of the wing, the air flowing over the top of the wing is forced to accelerate in order to travel the greater distance across the top versus the air flowing along the bottom. This acceleration of air over the top of the wing results in a drop of pressure in that air, leaving the air along the bottom of the wing with a greater pressure advantage that pushes upwards. This is the force of lift. When lift equals weight, the aircraft will stay level. When lift exceeds weight, the aircraft will climb. When weight exceeds lift, the aircraft will descend. The next forces I will explain, and the relationship between them, are thrust and drag. Drag is best explained as the resistance created by substances that come into contact with the airplane. There is resistance from the ground while the airplane's tires are still in contact, and there is resistance from the air as the aircraft accelerates along the ground and after it becomes airborne. The force of drag must be overcome by the force of thrust for the airplane to move forward. The airplane must move forward to generate sufficient airflow across the wings to produce enough lift to overcome gravity. This is where the propulsion of the airplane comes into play. Whether the aircraft propulsion is accomplished with propellers or jet engines, they produce
THE AIRPLANE AND ITS HISTORY 4 enough thrust to overcome drag and move the airplane forward. If thrust and drag are equal, the airplane remains at a constant speed. If thrust exceeds drag, the airplane will accelerate. If drag exceeds thrust, the airplane will decelerate. The next subject I'll discuss are the control surfaces and how they function. The control surfaces found on most airplanes are ailerons, the elevator, and the rudder. These function primarily through deflection of the airflow to enable directional control. The airplane has three axes which are the roll axis, the pitch axis, and the yaw axis. The roll axis is controlled through the use of the ailerons. When the pilot moves the control to the left, the aileron on the left wing deflects upward forcing the wing down and the aileron on the right wing deflects downward forcing the wing up. This results in the airplane rolling to the left. The exact opposite occurs when the pilot moves the control to the right. The pitch axis is controlled through the use of the elevator. When the pilot pulls back on the control, the elevator deflects upward forcing the tail of the airplane down and the nose of the airplane up resulting in a climb. The opposite occurs when the pilot pushes the control forward. The yaw axis is controlled through the use of the rudder. When the pilot pushes the left foot pedal, the rudder deflects to the left forcing the tail to the right and the nose to the left. The opposite occurs when the pilot presses the right foot pedal (Brain, M., Lamb, R., & Adkins, B., n.d.). Now that I've covered the fundamental aspects of what an airplane is and how it works, I'll move on to telling the story of the origins of the technology and give a brief history of the airplane. Mankind dreamed of flying long before it became a reality. In ancient times, some people attempted to fly by creating artificial bird wings that they tried to flap while jumping from
THE AIRPLANE AND ITS HISTORY 5 a high place. That never worked out too well. Leonardo DaVinci created concept drawings of a flying machine in 1490. Beginning in 1783, people began to take flight in balloons filled with hydrogen gas or hot air. This was very limiting, as one could only travel the direction of the wind, but it was a start. In 1804, Sir George Cayley built the first true airplane which was a kite mounted on a stick with a moveable tail. In 1849, a boy made the first manned flight in a glider designed by Cayley. Beginning in 1891 and continuing until his death in 1896, Otto Lilienthal carried out a series of successful controlled glider flights. In 1901, Samuel Pierpont Langley built the first successful flying model with propulsion from an internal combustion engine (A History of the Airplane., n.d.). The Wright Brothers tested their first glider in 1900, but it performed poorly. In 1901 they tested a new design and were more successful. In 1902, the Wright brothers carried out hundreds of successful flights with a glider that had a steering system using a moveable rudder at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Afterward, they designed an airplane with a twelve horsepower internal combustion engine that they also designed with assistance from a machinist named Charles Taylor. Finally, on December 17th in 1903, they made the first successful powered aircraft flight in history. The airplane stayed aloft for twelve seconds and covered a distance of 120 feet. They made further test flights that day with Wilbur flying the last flight and covering 852 feet in 59 seconds (First Airplane Flies., n.d.). Many improvements were made by the Wright brothers to their airplanes in following years, and further advancements in flying soon followed as others ventured forth to push progress. In 1916, Lawrence Sperry added a steering gyroscope to a stabilizer gyro to demonstrate the first automatic pilot. In 1917, an all metal airplane called the Junkers J4 was
THE AIRPLANE AND ITS HISTORY 6 introduced by Professor Hugo Junkers. In 1918, the US Postal Service inaugurated airmail service. Charles Lindbergh completed the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, flying from New York to Paris, on May 21st 1927. One of the most significant advancements ever made in aviation history happened when the Heinkel He 178 became the first aircraft to ever fly with jet propulsion in 1939. As a direct result of jet propulsion, Chuck Yeager was able to break the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 over Victorville, California in 1947. Other notable aviation hallmarks since that time have been the first flight of the Boeing 747 in 1969, the Concorde SST being introduced into commercial airline service in 1976, and the Boeing 777 becoming the first aircraft produced through computer-aided design and engineering to debut in 1995 (Airplane Timeline - Greatest Engineering Achievements of the Twentieth Century., n.d.). Without a doubt, the airplane is one of the most significant technologies developed in the last century. It has led to a world that feels much smaller and can be traversed much faster than ever before. It has had an immense impact on economies worldwide, personal lives, and military operations. Certainly, there will be many more amazing advancements in airplanes and aviation going into the future.

THE AIRPLANE AND ITS HISTORY 7
References
Airplane. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airplane
Brain, M., Lamb, R., & Adkins, B. (n.d.). How Airplanes Work. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/flight/modern/airplanes.htm
A History of the Airplane. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.wrightbrothers.org/History_Wing/History_of_the_Airplane/ History_of_the_Airplane_Intro/History_of_the_Airplane_Intro.htm First Airplane Flies. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-airplane-flies Airplane Timeline - Greatest Engineering Achievements of the Twentieth Century. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.greatachievements.org/?id=3728…...

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