Questions tagged [aviation-history]

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

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What happened to the Japanese aviation industry after WW2?

The Empire of Japan had a domestic aviation industry supplying the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force up until the end of WW2. The USSR and Western Europe, which saw large parts of their production ...
Bort's user avatar
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1 vote
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90 views

By how much did the content of the Airbus A320 FCOM expand over the last 40 years?

The Airbus A320 has been in service for almost 40 years now. I imagine that the current manuals are much larger than the manuals provided in the 80s, mainly for three reasons: The newer models ...
Ulu83's user avatar
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18 votes
3 answers
6k views

Soviet (Eastern bloc) aircraft innovations?

From my Western perspective as a non-aviation person, it appears that most aircraft innovations throughout history (whether commercial or military) were pioneered by Western countries/corporations. ...
Milwrdfan's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
301 views

Have two similarly sized aircraft ever hard-docked with each other while in flight?

This question is looking for a precedent in aviation related to the futuristic idea of maintaining a permanent fleet of solar-powered aircraft in the upper atmosphere on the sunny side of Venus (which ...
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1 answer
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RB-77C Destroyer on March 10th, 1964 over Magdeburg

It is claimed that a spy plane with the registration RB-77C Destroyer was shot down near Magdeburg on 10 March 1964. Does anyone know anything about this?
HolgerFiedler's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
162 views

Origins and Efficiency of the Phonetic Alphabet in Aviation

I’m curious about the history and practicality of the phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, etc.) used in aviation communication. While I recognise its universal application in ...
tedioustortoise's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
516 views

Advantages of an inverted sesquiplane?

A biplane whose lower wing is significantly shorter in span than the upper is sometimes called a sesquiplane, from sesqui "one and a half." One whose upper wing is shorter (even slightly, ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
86 views

What was the penultimate flight of the TCA plane that crashed near Vancouver in 1947?

In his 1975 book An Almanac of Words at Play, Willard R. Espy recounts the following: En route from Montreal to Vancouver in 1947, we sat down in Calgary, where a wire from my boss changed my ...
Psychonaut's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
452 views

Is it correct to say that the expected behaviour at a Fly-by/Fly-over waypoint derives from when there was no GPS, but rather just VOR/DMEs?

I was re-looking at Fly-by/Fly-over waypoints: and discussing with a colleague the topic of how these came about. Is it correct that this definitions were put in place so that a human pilot could fly ...
Federico's user avatar
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2 votes
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180 views

Are there other examples of Brown-Stigler incident?

I have just finished reading A Higher Call and wondered if there are other cases where a pilot showed his mercy to the foe when they are in desperate situation. Looked through several B17 related-webs,...
Lady Be Good's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
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Could "Lady Be Good" Incident Prevented by the Technology of its Time?

For those who don't know, Wiki page of the incident sums up. I don't have much knowledge about communication systems of WWII, but I know how radio communication work. This page has The aircraft flew ...
Lady Be Good's user avatar
21 votes
1 answer
3k views

What plane was most likely used for this TWA transatlantic flight in 1954?

This is the manifest for my grandaunt (she is #9). She most likely took a train from Paris to Croatia to visit her mother. The family was not wealthy, so this was an extravagant expense for them. Can ...
Mattman944's user avatar
-5 votes
2 answers
929 views

How did novice pilots hit the Twin Towers?

I know people don't like discussing this, and I don't ask out of morbid curiousity. But conspiracy theories will naturally arise about such great and consequential events, and I don't think it's fair ...
Abdullah is not an Amalekite's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
443 views

What was the first law requiring licensing or certification for pilots?

What was the first law passed by a government (e.g. not a private organization's policy) requiring some kind of licensing or certifications for civilian pilots?
Someone's user avatar
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Were there any planes used in WWII that were able to shoot their own tail?

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there's a scene where Indiana is piloting a plane and his father is acting as gunner. While shooting at incoming enemy planes, he accidentally shoots his own ...
Elerium115's user avatar
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2 answers
348 views

Has any aircraft in history ever pulled 7g for 15 or more seconds?

According to this post "no aircraft has ever pulled 7g for two seconds" If the interpretation of the video is correct, has any aircraft in history ever pulled 7g for fifteen seconds?
Bob b's user avatar
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Why did two of the development Concordes have red cabin doors?

The second British Concorde 101 G-AXDN at the 1974 Farnborough Airshow (Photo by: Richard Vandervord source: www.airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0) Three of the six development ...
Steve Pemberton's user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
196 views

Historical Number of Aircraft in Service (by Airline)

I am looking for historical data on the number of commercial passenger aircraft in service, ideally with additional information on the associated airline. My search so far has turned up one scientific ...
Wasserwaage's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
952 views

Are there any variable-diameter propellers?

Have there been any known tests or prototypes of variable-diameter propellers? There's this paywalled paper from 2014 that seems to have made a virtual prototype model, have there been any physical ...
user721108's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
276 views

Why do acronyms aviation often have words in orders unusual?

"Airplane Single Engine Land" (rather than "Single Engine Land Airplane" "Certified Flight Instructor Instrument" (rather than "Certified Instrument Flight ...
Someone's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
182 views

Private Plane security United States 1975

in 1975 Famous Teamster Boss Jimmy Hoffa disappeared after being picked up at a local restaurant. One of the theories is that men from New Jersey boarded a plane, landed in Detroit, and assisted with ...
Sithjedi66's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
134 views

Energy Maneuverability Theory Applied to WW1 Fighters

I am trying to test the Fokker D.VII, Spad S.XIII, Sopwith Camel, Nieuport 28, and the Se5a using the model in this paper: https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA066034.pdf It's called Combat Performance ...
MathFareswell's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
189 views

Was the first US government-issued pilot license issued in 1927 or '28?

The top image says it was issued April 6, 1928, while the bottom one says April 6, 1927. Are these two different documents issued a year apart, or is there a discrepancy?
Someone's user avatar
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5 votes
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When did the United States stop issuing pilot "licenses" (and start issuing "certificates")?

The first document issued by the US federal government authorizing a person to fly an aircraft was issued on April 6, 1927 by the Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce, and it is called a ...
Someone's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
301 views

Is it possible to use Morse code for communication?

Let's say your radio fails, but luckily you brought your keychain Morse code transmitter as a backup! Is there any way to use it? ICAO defines Q-codes for aviation use. Q-codes were initially ...
Zaz's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
313 views

What is the origin of the ‘six pack’ flight instrument arrangement?

I was wondering who came up with the modern ‘six pack’ flight instrument arrangement, when I realized that the old British blind instrument flying panel that was the standard across many airplane ...
B. Kellh's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why has structural efficiency (OEW / MTOW) not improved despite increasing use of carbon fiber?

Where can I find information on the weight breakdown of civil aircraft? I am interested primarily in trying to understand why structural efficiency (OEW/MTOW) has not improved despite increasing use ...
Wasserwaage's user avatar
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12 votes
3 answers
5k views

Were contrails different in the 80s?

My parents insist they remember contrails being significantly shorter around 1980s. From my research it seems this might be the result of several factors such as climate change, advancements in ...
OLEGSHA's user avatar
  • 231
11 votes
2 answers
3k views

Who was the first person to fly above 20,000 feet, and what aircraft was used?

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You ...
Someone's user avatar
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1 vote
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Is there an aerodynamic benefit of covering the underside of wings?

What is the nature and extent to the benefit of covering up the bottom of an airfoil? It seems like all the early airplanes just had ribs and spars that were wrapped only on top, but then pretty soon ...
stuart's user avatar
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1 answer
92 views

Aircraft progress: Evolution or design? [closed]

This video of a Curtiss Pusher is stunning. Had I been around when it was new, I would have stopped there! Question: What processes led to the aircraft of today? ...
chasly - supports Monica's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
260 views

Were European single-engine fighters considered superior to U.S. designs at the start of WW2?

There was a wide consensus in U.S. military circles about 1940 that U.S. pursuit fighters were substantially less capable in terms of performance than their equivalent European counterparts. ...
interested22's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
289 views

Who was the third person to fly a powered airplane?

The first person to fly a powered airplane was Orville Wright on December 17, 1903. The second was Wilbur Wright on that same day. The Wright Flyer was destroyed before anyone else flew it. The Wright ...
Plutor's user avatar
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23 votes
2 answers
4k views

How was altitude calculated before the invention of the altimeter?

I just read David McCollough's "The Wright Brothers," and was surprised to find several references to the exact altitude attained by various Wright airplanes. For example, on page 235: The ...
nuggethead's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
227 views

What was the first programmable computer used in a flight-related role on an aircraft?

What was the first programmable digital computer, or device containing a programmable digital computer, used on an aircraft or spacecraft for a purpose related to flight? To use modern devices as an ...
Someone's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
150 views

Was there any attempt on making a turbofan for mach 1-2 with a "decelerator" air intake?

What made me ask this question is the SR-71 hybrid engines and the efficiency difference between certain engines. Here is an article from wikipedia showing the efficiency of the engines accordingly to ...
Fulano's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
131 views

What are the aerodynamic characteristics of the flying saucer?

It seems that Canadian VZ-9 Avrocar was aerodynamically unstable. Particularly at high altitudes, and so the project was cancelled. IIRC there was considerable interest in flying saucers in the 1950s ...
Mr X's user avatar
  • 217
0 votes
1 answer
148 views

Are there any aircrafts that use the same "ballooning effect" of spiders to fly?

For those that aren't aware, the "ballooning" effect that spiders use to glide (not necessarily fly) explaining in a simple way, some small invertebrates throw a bunch of long strings (in ...
Fulano's user avatar
  • 119
6 votes
2 answers
2k views

Does “balls to the wall” mean “full speed ahead” or “full speed ahead and nosedive”?

Full speed ahead: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/balls_to_the_wall Full speed ahead and nosedive: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2006/02/why-we-say-balls-to-the-wall.html
iudfhuifsv's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
223 views

What was the story of a serious incident with Galaxy C5 in about 1973

I am guessing it was a flight in support of the Yom Kippur War in October of 1973 that due a pitot tube failure that Galaxy C5 had to do an emergency landing on Azore with assitance from another plane ...
user2617804's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
164 views

What were the atmospheric models in the 19th century and early 20th century like, compared to the present-day ISA?

Atmospheric pressure has been used to determine the altitude a pilot (or a mountain climber as well) is at since the beginning of the age of ballooning. I find the following Wikipedia excerpt about ...
Giovanni's user avatar
  • 393
0 votes
1 answer
46 views

Was Hawthorne C. Gray the first pilot to use a positive pressure mask?

The balloonist Hawthorne C. Gray established human altitude records twice in 1927. His ascent in May 1927 went to 42,470 ft (12.94 km) which is an altitude the FAA requires the use of a pressure ...
Giovanni's user avatar
  • 393
3 votes
2 answers
266 views

Why were taxiways marked with numbers (as opposed to letters) back in the day?

I learned through the USAir Flight 1493 and SkyWest Airlines Flight 5569 collision that many taxiways at KLAX were marked with numbers (e.g., Taxiway 45, Taxiway 33) instead of letters (e.g., Taxiway ...
Charles Nicholson's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
248 views

Can someone identify this biplane from 1920-21 taken in Arkansas?

Can someone identify this biplane? It was taken in late 1920 or early 1921 when my grandfather was barnstorming in Arkansas. My grandmother and aunts are also in the photos. Additionally, can someone ...
Bill Shaffer's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
387 views

What biplane of the Army Air Reserve is in this picture?

This is the second example of the biplanes they flew. Can anyone identify this biplane flown by the 476th pursuit squadron "The Black Falcons" of the 322rd pursuit group of the Army Air ...
Bill Shaffer's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
250 views

Can anyone identify this Biplane flown Army Air Reserve stationed at Clover Field, Santa Monica, California in mid the 1920's?

Can anyone identify this biplane flown by the 476th pursuit squadron "The Black Falcons" of the 322rd pursuit group of the Army Air Reserve stationed at Clover Field, Santa Monica, ...
Bill Shaffer's user avatar
21 votes
1 answer
5k views

What is this crashed WW2 era aircraft?

There is a post D-Day Nazi propaganda film (with contemporary Allied narration) available on YouTube. It shows a destroyed aircraft at 11:50, presumably Allied. It looks like a twin-engine aircraft, ...
Party Ark's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
183 views

Who put a model of the Space Shuttle at the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation in Los Angeles Ca?

Background This answer to Help identifying this landmark and road in "Los Angeles 1940s, Residential Area in color" in Travel SE identified the structure as the: Portal of the Folded Wings ...
uhoh's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
9k views

Why did Boeing never replace the 757?

https://boeing.mediaroom.com/2005-04-28-Boeing-Closes-Chapter-in-Aviation-History-with-Final-757-Delivery Boeing in late 2003 decided to end 757 production because the increased capabilities of the ...
chx's user avatar
  • 689
11 votes
3 answers
467 views

By what measure was Gander International Airport the "largest" in the 1940s?

According to the Wikipedia article and the original source Gander International Airport had four runways and was the largest airport in the world by 1945. Now, "large" can mean a lot of ...
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