Questions tagged [aviation-history]

Questions about aviation history, starting from kites, balloons, airplanes, helicopters and rockets.

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7 answers
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Why do older airplanes have a wing on both the top and the bottom of the aircraft?

The first airplane by the Wright brothers had a double wing. This concept continued through World War 1 and into the 1930s - why was this concept popular?
Ethan's user avatar
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15 votes
6 answers
6k views

Can biplane or triplane designs be revived with modern materials?

With the new-age technologies and cutting-edge composite materials etc available currently, is it possible that biplane and triplane designs will make a comeback in the near future?
Krishnaraj Rao's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
8k views

What is the purpose of a wing Yehudi? [duplicate]

Apart from covering the landing gear leg, the Yehudi also increases the wing root cord which allows the build height for the root to increase for the same wing relative thickness. This is useful as ...
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52 votes
9 answers
22k views

Why don't aircraft use nuclear propulsion?

Nuclear propulsion research for aircraft was abandoned during the 50's. Why wasn't it revived ever?
user avatar
35 votes
4 answers
13k views

Have jet engines ever "Sheared" off?

I have read that jet engines, at least the under-wing ones, are attached to the airplane by shear nuts and bolts so that in case of unstable forces in or on the engine, the engine would fall off to ...
SMS von der Tann's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
950 views

What are the statistical probabilities of commercial aircraft accidents?

Is there any study showing how probabilities of various kinds of aviation (e.g. crash-landings, fatal crashes, mid-air collisions) accidents have increased or reduced over time?
Krishnaraj Rao's user avatar
116 votes
13 answers
43k views

Why does it take so long to develop modern military jets?

In the 1960's, it took three years to produce a flying prototype of an aircraft that flew faster than anything before, was built out of a novel construction material, used a new type of fuel, and was ...
Koyovis's user avatar
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37 votes
5 answers
23k views

Why did the Junkers Ju-52 have corrugated external surfaces?

Every time I pass by Munich I have to pay a visit to the Deutsches museum, in particular to the aviation wing. Among the other aircraft on display, there is a Junkers Ju-52. A different photo taken ...
Federico's user avatar
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33 votes
4 answers
48k views

Why does an airplane captain sit in the left seat?

For almost every airline, the captain sits in the left seat, and the first officer on the right. We know that in most countries right-side traffic and some have left-side. During training, the ...
Farhan's user avatar
  • 29.4k
20 votes
9 answers
7k views

Why are airships not more popular?

There is this question but I am hoping for more general answers to why airships are not more commonplace. The previous question does bring up the cost of production (mainly because of hi-tech fibers ...
Matthew Peters's user avatar
20 votes
1 answer
4k views

Is Doppler navigation still in use for civilian aircraft?

Is it possible to find an airliner nowadays with Doppler radar used for navigation purposes?
Andrea Ghilardi's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
2k views

Airline safety: what happened between 1959 and 1962?

The graph on page 17 (PDF page 18) of this Boeing air safety publication shows the fatal accident rate for commercial jets in the US and Canada dropped from about 40 per million departures in 1959 to ...
Mark's user avatar
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42 votes
3 answers
21k views

How did SR-71 spy, flying at 80,000 ft and 3500 km/h?

The SR-71 Blackbird is a famous supersonic reconnaissance/spy aircraft, undoubtedly one of the most amazing flying machines ever. Now, with the capabilities it had: Maximum speed: Mach 3.3 (2,200+ ...
anshabhi's user avatar
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33 votes
5 answers
9k views

Why, until recently, were smooth nose sections not popular?

Why, until recently, were smooth nose sections not popular? By smooth I mean without a break between the nose and windshield. (The question focuses on airliners.) Seeing the Starliner (left) and DC-7 (...
user avatar
25 votes
4 answers
16k views

Why did WWII prop aircraft have colored prop tips?

Why do propeller aircraft from World War II and similar planes sometimes have the tips of the props colored? I see it on single engine planes like the P-51 as well as bigger, multi-engine planes such ...
dalearn's user avatar
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16 votes
2 answers
79k views

What is the origin of the term "pax"?

Pax in commercial transport is used as something like persons or passengers, in the context of counting people, e.g. 150 pax onboard. (Amadeus capture, source) I observed that in German writers tend ...
mins's user avatar
  • 73k
15 votes
4 answers
6k views

Why was the Boeing 377 "Stratocruiser" frequently landed nosewheel first on touchdown?

Why was the Boeing 377 "Stratocruiser" frequently landed nosewheel first on touchdown? In the mid-1950's I had often observed Northwest Airlines' B377's frequently being landed that way at the old ...
К. Келлогг Смиф's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
1k views

What is currently the longest commercial flight in terms of distance?

Flightradar24 has announced few hours ago, that Qantas QF7 is taking off for its 13,804 km long flight and named it the longest commercial flight (by distance). Is that correct? I was more than sure, ...
trejder's user avatar
  • 4,152
13 votes
5 answers
3k views

Has there ever been a diesel-electric helicopter?

Occasionally I come across the diesel-electric (DE) design for submarines and freight trains. They say something like "a diesel engine powering an electric drive lets the two operate at their most ...
DrZ214's user avatar
  • 17.7k
12 votes
4 answers
5k views

What is the oldest aircraft still in production?

What is the oldest aircraft still in production? I Googled it but only got the answer to the oldest military aircraft still in production.
flyingfisch's user avatar
  • 14.5k
9 votes
2 answers
589 views

What specific improvements were made in supercritical airfoil design from 1980 - 2000?

I originally asked a question (Comparisons between the A340 and 747-200 wing: sweep angle and span) about the technological developments which allowed the Airbus A340 to have a wing with greater ...
interested22's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why did Air France retire Concorde? [closed]

It was developed by British Airways and Air France in the 1970s as the first supersonic passenger/civilian airplane.
user3718737's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
20k views

Why has the maximum service ceiling of Boeing and Airbus products remained about the same for 30 years? [duplicate]

When Boeing introduced the 747-100 in 1969, its maximum ceiling was 45,100 feet; half a century later, when Boeing introduced the 777x, its maximum ceiling was 43,100 feet. Similarly, the maximum ...
Him's user avatar
  • 5,288
58 votes
9 answers
21k views

Why was the P-51 Mustang not adopted by the U.S. Navy?

I've heard from many WWII aviation hobbyists and WWII vets that the P-51 was essentially the pinnacle of U.S. piston-engine fighter design; it was fast, maneuverable, long-range, well-armed, allowed ...
KeithS's user avatar
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48 votes
3 answers
92k views

Why did the Ju-87 Stuka have a siren?

Why did the Ju-87 Stuka have a siren? Was this for purely psychological reasons or did it help the pilot in some way?
flyingfisch's user avatar
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31 votes
12 answers
10k views

Is there an example of a classic aviation engineering moment when engineers had to discard all their work due to the wrong approach?

Is there any classic aviation/space engineering moment where the engineers had been working on a concept for months and then realised that their approach to the problem wasn't quite right and so had ...
RNG's user avatar
  • 477
30 votes
5 answers
10k views

Why was the production of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird halted?

Why was production of Lockheed's SR-71 Blackbird halted, given that it was an advanced supersonic jet that was ahead of its time?
titan's user avatar
  • 402
29 votes
4 answers
5k views

Did Wolfgang Langewiesche ever change his mind about rudder pedals?

I get the feeling that if aviation was a religion and had a holy book, that book would be Stick and Rudder. Mostly because it's often spoken of with great authority by people who have never read it. ...
Steve V.'s user avatar
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25 votes
6 answers
4k views

Which airplane designs have the greatest longevity?

What airplane designs have been around the longest, from first flight through last retirement from active commercial or military service? My guess is that the DC-3 will win, since it has been around ...
Ralph J's user avatar
  • 51.4k
24 votes
5 answers
8k views

What was the inflight entertainment in the early seventies?

In her 1970 song "This Flight Tonight", Joni Mitchell sings I'm drinking sweet champagne Got the headphones up high Can't numb you out Can't drum you out of my mind They're playing Goodbye ...
SQB's user avatar
  • 2,265
21 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why did some Caravelles have a very long dorsal fin?

(Source) Why did some Sud Aviation Caravelles have a very long dorsal fin stretching half the fuselage? Initially I thought it's to keep the fin low to fit in existing hangars as a selling point, ...
user avatar
20 votes
5 answers
9k views

How did aircraft communicate during early air travel?

During the initial era of air travel how do the pilots/Navigation officers would communicate with ground stations? Do they use radio communication? Or Telegraph was used?
Karthick's user avatar
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18 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why are there so few aircraft that had inhabited wings?

According to an answer by John Frazer The only successful plane with inhabited wing might have been the Ju-38 Is this true? In the whole history of aviation there was only one aeroplane with ...
Squareoot's user avatar
  • 1,654
17 votes
1 answer
4k views

Did Flight Engineers progress to be pilots?

When 3 man cockpits were common place on commercial aircraft what was the career progression of a Flight Engineer like? Did FE's normally transition to be pilots? I'm not trying to insinuate here ...
user1352057's user avatar
  • 1,445
17 votes
2 answers
9k views

What was Boeing's competitor to the C-5?

Doing some of my airplane learning, I have come across a point many times that the engines for the Boeing 747 (at least partially) came from Boeing's competitor to the C-5 Galaxy. What was this plane ...
SMS von der Tann's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is it common for aircraft tugs to work from under the aircraft?

I came across this photo showing a tug attached in a way I have never seen before. I assume it was used to allow the aircraft closer to the terminal. Did this require special equipment or ...
Mike Sowsun's user avatar
  • 37.8k
15 votes
2 answers
21k views

Where did the terms QNE, QNH, and QFE come from?

In the aviation community (at least outside North America), the terms QNE, QNH, and QFE are used to describe standard pressure, local altimeter, and field elevation, respectively. But what is the ...
newmanth's user avatar
  • 5,167
13 votes
1 answer
969 views

What is the history and process of designing new waypoints and airways?

I am interested in what goes into designing new airways and navigation fixes, especially on international routes. For example, after WWII, there were no established international air service. Now, we ...
kevin's user avatar
  • 39.7k
13 votes
1 answer
3k views

Has there even been a case of pilot incapacitation due to food poisoning?

On commercial flights, pilots are usually required to have different meal, to reduce the chance of food poisoning affecting both pilots. Is this just a precautionary measure, or has this actually ...
kevin's user avatar
  • 39.7k
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

How did old autopilots work?

With fly-by-wire and computers between pilot's command and flight control surfaces, it is easy to imagine the implementation of an autopilot inside the computer, but I read somewhere that autopilots ...
Manu H's user avatar
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12 votes
3 answers
2k views

Is it possible for a plane to accelerate easily from 30 to 45 mph in flight while it struggles to reach 30 mph (the engine runs at constant power)?

In two letters sent to Dr. G. A. Spratt (an aviation enthusiast), Wilbur Wright reported the progress he and his brother had made, up to September 10, 1904, regarding Flyer II, a plane powered by a 16-...
Simplex11's user avatar
  • 798
11 votes
4 answers
9k views

Why was the engine of the Ju-87 Stuka not replaced with a more powerful one?

Related to this question Why did the Ju-87 Stuka have a siren? I would like to know the reasons why they have not changed the engine of the Stuka when they realised it was easy prey for Hurricanes ...
Marcello Miorelli's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

How are aircraft controlled that have no forward view out of the cockpit?

Modern aircraft tend to have quite reasonable cockpit visibility. But throughout history there were some that had literally no visibility directly forward. The best known example is probably Ryan ...
Jan Hudec's user avatar
  • 56.3k
11 votes
3 answers
6k views

When did airlines start using seat belts for passengers?

When did airlines start using seat belts on passenger flights?
Joe Oldenburg's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the largest aircraft that has been flown inverted successfully?

What is the largest aircraft that has been flown inverted? For the purpose of the question: Sustained inverted flight is not necessary, therefore barrel rolls and loops count The aircraft must be ...
kevin's user avatar
  • 39.7k
10 votes
1 answer
4k views

How was the high-bypass concept invented?

(Source) Wikipedia says: After [the Ryan XV-5 Vertifan demonstrated] that large amounts of air could be moved through a lift fan, an 80 in (2.0 m) tip drive fan turned through 90 degrees, driven ...
user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
4k views

How did ICAO SARPS come to include the 250 knots speed limit for aircraft below 10,000 feet?

In certain airspace classes, a speed limit of 250 knots IAS is imposed for aircraft flying below FL100/10.000FT, according to the airspace classes defined by ICAO. How did this limit find its way into ...
60levelchange's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
738 views

Where can I find more information about my grandfather's crashed B-18a bomber on Mt. Redoubt Alaska?

My father and I have chartered a plane for late August to search for the remains of my grandfather's B-18a bomber, which crashed in the summer of 1942 in Mt. Redoubt Alaska. I am specifically ...
bclarkreston's user avatar
  • 3,686
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

What was the range of a low-frequency radio range station?

The low-frequency radio range is a historic navigation aid that was in use from the 20's to the 70's. I find it quite interesting. Using AM frequencies, what was the range of a high power LFR station?...
user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

What noise reduction measures were taken in the time between hush kits and chevrons?

In older jets such as 727 hush kits are used in the engines to reduce noise. In very modern jets such as 787 or 747-8F, chevrons are used for the same purpose. What happened in between? The switch to ...
Moobie's user avatar
  • 173