Questions tagged [aviation-history]

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

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15
votes
6answers
10k views

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?
14
votes
6answers
3k 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?
35
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
707 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?
37
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5answers
17k 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 ...
31
votes
4answers
36k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
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 ...
111
votes
13answers
35k 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 ...
41
votes
3answers
17k 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+ ...
51
votes
9answers
21k 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?
20
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9answers
5k 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 ...
12
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4answers
4k 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.
12
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5answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
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.
15
votes
3answers
958 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, ...
48
votes
3answers
78k 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?
57
votes
9answers
14k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
36k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
29
votes
5answers
9k 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?
19
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
733 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
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 ...
19
votes
5answers
7k 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?
16
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
669 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
16k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k 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?...
21
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
1answer
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, ...
18
votes
1answer
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 ...
14
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
12k 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 ...
80
votes
14answers
36k views

What is the slowest fixed-wing airplane?

It's easy to find information about the fastest airplanes, in different categories (e.g. X-15, SR-71, the Concorde etc), but what is the slowest one? Which powered, manned airplane is capable of ...
56
votes
13answers
14k views

Have any large aeroplanes been landed — safely and without damage — in locations that they could not be flown away from?

And, what was done with them subsequently?
23
votes
2answers
5k views

What was the first aircraft that could fly inverted?

I'm taking a guess and assuming the Wright Flyer was incapable of flying upside down. I'm just guessing it probably lacked the power... ;) So what was the first plane that could fly inverted for a ...
19
votes
3answers
6k views

How did the gyro gunsights of WW2 get the range and lead of a target?

I just read this article on the gyro gunsight, but I don't understand how it computed range/position to the target and then calculated how much lead is needed. Surely it must have had radar to get ...
42
votes
4answers
18k views

Why is the autopilot called “George?”

The autopilot of an airplane is frequently referred to as "George" (for example, in this answer). When did this nickname enter common usage, and what is its origin? Please cite sources if possible!
32
votes
1answer
5k views

Why did the DC-3 have wing sweep?

When looking at the silhouette of a DC-3, one can clearly see that the wings are swept. This design is from 1935, before the high-speed research work on wing sweep was ever implemented, and the DC-3 ...
25
votes
4answers
12k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are there different number of propeller blades on the inboard and outboard engines?

The Junkers G 38 has four propeller blades on the inboard but only two on the outboard engines. What's the reason for this special arrangement and is there any benefit?
39
votes
1answer
7k views

Which aircraft had such a luxurious-looking navigator's station?

I'm reading the BBC's How Fiji changed the way we travel; The little Pacific island nation was the first to incorporate GPS into its aviation system – and in doing so forever changed the way we get ...
38
votes
5answers
31k views

Why don't passenger aircraft use the trijet configuration anymore?

As a kid I distinctly remember seeing aircraft like the bright blue KLM MD-11 having the prominent third engine on the tail. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KLM_MD_11_AMS.jpg However, I don'...
33
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
27
votes
3answers
9k views

Would the Gee Bee be allowed to fly today, with so little forward visibility?

When looking at the Gee Bee: Source I wonder what the pilot is actually able to see, when rolling on the runway, when flying level, or trying to locate a possible emergency landing place. It seems ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

What would happen if a plane lost half of its weight instantly?

During the Second World War the RAF had a 10,000 kg bomb, the "Grand Slam", which was dropped from a Lancaster bomber. I assume that when this was dropped the plane would lurch upwards. Is there any ...
27
votes
4answers
4k 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. ...
23
votes
4answers
7k views

Which fixed-wing aircraft has the highest number of required flight crew members?

Most modern airliners require two pilots to operate. Older airliners require a flight crew of three: two pilots plus one flight engineer. Has there ever been an aircraft where the number of required ...
23
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is the “Dutch” roll called so?

Why is the "Dutch" roll called so? When did this name enter common usage, and what is its origin? Please cite sources if possible!