Questions tagged [aviation-history]

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

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23
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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!
23
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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 ...
22
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4answers
20k views

Why does the US use two types of aerial refueling?

There are two main types of aerial refueling, the boom and the drogue. The US uses both, while most other countries use just the drogue. How are they different and why does the US use both?
20
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3answers
5k views

Is this a famous aviator / airplane?

This may be a little off topic but I could not find a better community or website. I have two photo postcards with a man in front of a plane. Pretty sure it's Charles Lindbergh but an exhaustive ...
19
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2answers
4k views

What is this aircraft with pipes at the flight deck windows?

This image comes from a site about aircraft tractors: What could be the reasons for this old aircraft to have pipes at the flight deck windows and to be moved near a forest?
13
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3answers
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 ...
13
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3answers
2k views

Why did the F-104 Starfighter have a T-tail?

The F-104 Starfighter was launched in 1954, nine years after WWII. It had short stubby wings and a T-tail. According to wiki, the short stubby wings caused inertia coupling and the T-tail reduced this....
13
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1answer
3k views

Were civilian aircraft allowed to overfly the Soviet Union?

The great-circle route from Western Europe to, say, Japan involves putting in a lot of miles above Russia, for example like this (London Heathrow–Tokyo Narita; map from gcmap.com). Would routes ...
12
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1answer
2k 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 ...
11
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4answers
6k 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 ...
11
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1answer
761 views

What aircraft had the first pilot-assisted controls?

This question about regulations regarding hydraulic flight controls got me thinking about the history of hydraulic or pilot-assisted controls. As aircraft get larger the control surfaces must grow ...
10
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2answers
2k views

What was the first commercial aircraft to have a 'built-in' oxygen system?

(Source) Boeing 307 of TWA, the 307 was the first pressurized passenger aircraft. The 307 (c. 1938) flew as high as 23,300 ft, lower than the jets of nowadays, and did not have a built-in oxygen ...
9
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2answers
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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 ...
8
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1answer
3k views

Which was the first pressurized aircraft?

Which aircraft was the first one to fly pressurized? High altitude breathing apparatus, 1918 (source) I mean an aircraft which didn't require to don an oxygen mask above a certain altitude, ...
7
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1answer
455 views

What was the first aircraft fitted with both an FDR & CVR?

What was the first production aircraft to be fitted with a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) as standard by the manufacturer?
7
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5answers
2k views

Were WW2 American fighters designed to operate from dirt airstrips?

Fighter or fighter-bomber planes built in America during WW2, such as the P-36, P-39, P-47, P-51. Were these designed to takeoff and land on dirt airstrips? My impression, and correct me if I'm wrong,...
7
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1answer
855 views

How did aircraft flying in formation use flares to communicate with each other?

The image shown in the question Which aircraft had such a luxurious-looking navigator's station? (also below) shows a flare gun with several flares. A comment below the question says: On the ...
7
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1answer
2k views

Has an unauthorized civilian ever tried to land on an aircraft carrier?

Has there ever been an attempt by a civilian 'daredevil' to land a plane on a US aircraft carrier? I came across the Red Square Landing and coupled with this video it made me wonder if there was ...
6
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1answer
590 views

Pre-50's, how was electricity generated without using an Integrated Drive Generator?

The question How do airplanes regulate the output frequency of AC generators? here on SE already answers why we need an IDG with a constant speed drive on airliners. [IDG's] have been used in ...
6
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2answers
392 views

Any biplane flying wings after 1914?

Were any biplane flying wings built and flown after the 1912-1914 variants of the Dunne D.8? If not, why? Wikipedia mentions merely that this type was too stable and insufficiently controllable, but ...
5
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1answer
1k views

Has turbulence ever killed a passenger?

The question is on my mind, because many passengers think there is no need to wear the seatbelt when the seatbelt sign is not illuminated.
4
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1answer
332 views

How did Wilbur Wright create and use the formulas he mentions in his letter to Octave Chanute?

In a letter written by Wilbur Wright and addressed to Octave Chanute, dated 1903/06/18, I have found two things that I do not quite understand. Our engine develops at the brake 15.6 horse power and ...
4
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7answers
517 views

Was the adoption of conventional tailplanes as 'everyday aircraft' inevitable, or are there other designs that can be just as good?

I originally asked a variant of this on Worldbuilding.SE, but they didn't seem to like it. So I apologize if it's out of place even here. I ask, because I've been forming in my head an alternate ...
3
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2answers
219 views

Re old (1993) US VFR sectional charts— when did the term “Class E” first appear?

When did the phrase "Class E" or "Class E airspace" first appear on the legend of US VFR sectional charts, to identify the meaning of the thin dashed magenta line? I'd like to narrow down the date as ...
3
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2answers
336 views

What did Fiji have to do when it incorporated GPS into its aviation system?

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 ...
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2answers
6k views

Should “mayday” be preferred over “SOS” in an emergency?

I was asked about the difference today. The only difference I know is that mayday doesn't appear in the exams ( like the SOS parts of the book, you get the joke? :) ). I also found the difference in ...
24
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2answers
8k views

Is there an official record of the pilot with the most logged flight time?

We often hear about pilots with 10 or even 20 thousands hours. So I was wondering how much higher this number can go. Do we know which pilot has the most logged time? Is there any official number?
22
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1answer
4k views

What airframe designer/manufacturer is credited with the first retractable landing gear system?

A quick follow-up to Why do planes always land on rear wheels instead of the nose wheels? What airframe designer/manufacturer is credited with the first retractable landing gear system? I ran past ...
19
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3answers
8k views

Has anyone ever been penalised for buzzing a control tower?

Has there ever been a pilot who was caught and penalised for performing a "circus stunt fly-by" next to a control tower? To clarify the question: I mean legal actions took place; for example ...
17
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1answer
9k views

Where does the term 'greased landing' come from?

I've heard this term used a few times to describe a really smooth landing (one where you hardly feel a bump). But where does this term actually come from? I'm not sure how grease (a lubricant) came ...
15
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1answer
3k 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 ...
15
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3answers
1k views

Where does the 90 seconds limit for plane evacuation come from?

New airplanes have to confirm that all passengers have to be evacuated within 90 seconds or they wouldn't be certified by aviation authorities. But where does the 90 seconds limit come from? Why isn't ...
14
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1answer
693 views

How were the graveyard spiral and other sensory illusions discovered?

The graveyard spiral has an infamous reputation for killing even experienced pilots which only have visual flight experience. What the wikipedia article does not mention is how and when the spiral and ...
12
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3answers
4k views

What is the history of glass cockpits?

All glass cockpits seem to have the same basic setup for the primary instruments. Altitude tape on the right, air speed tape on the left, turn coordinator on top and an artificial horizon in the ...
11
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2answers
3k views

How did the Wright plane takeoff/land?

I don't understand exactly how the Wright brothers handled takeoff with the first gliders and powered plane. I know it has something to do with an elevated rail track. Also, if the flying position was ...
11
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3answers
2k views

Which came to be first - bigger airplanes, or longer runways?

I'm generally speaking about airports with runways long enough for airliners, be historic or still in use. In order not to turn this question to a chicken-egg discussion, here are my points: Would ...
10
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1answer
2k 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 ...
9
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2answers
673 views

Comparing the Lilienthal and Wright gliders, which one had a better glide ratio?

Where can I find reliable figures about the best glides of Lilienthal and the Wright Brothers (1902 - 1903)? From the sources below it would appear that Lilienthal's most advanced glider was far ...
9
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1answer
2k views

What is Mode B on the transponder?

Mode A selected on the transponder provides identification of the aircraft to the secondary radar; Mode C will add an automatic height read-out of an aircraft. Mode S is a selective addressing. But ...
8
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3answers
4k views

When did airlines start using seat belts for passengers?

When did airlines start using seat belts on passenger flights?
6
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2answers
8k views

How many 747-200 are still in service?

I'm wondering how many 747-200's are still in service? I know for sure Rolls Royce is using one for testing purposes. And the one from the US Forces. Are there any civilian operated ones left? Does ...
6
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2answers
836 views

What is the record length of time for single-occupant flight?

What is the longest flight time for a single pilot alone in an aircraft?
5
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1answer
267 views

When were airbrakes used for the first time in aviation?

I would like to have some information about the history of airbrakes.
5
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1answer
1k views

Does a 1lb crow expend only 7.68 Watts to fly at 37 km/h?

The Wright brothers and the 1 pound crow that flies at 37 km/h expending just 7.68 W In an 1905 letter to Octave Chanute, Wilbur Wright evaluated the power, used by a 1 lb bird to fly at 34 ft/s, ...
5
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1answer
106 views

What happened with the balloons of project Excelsior?

After the flight to the ISS yesterday I am reading more stuff about mankind in the universe. Reading about the Excelsior project makes me wonder what happened with the helium balloon after Joseph ...
5
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1answer
378 views

How are rotary engines controlled?

Listen closely to the engine sound here. It seems to me all rotaries continuously sound on/off. Is that a pilot application to manage the engine's torque (with the whole block rotating), or as ...
5
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2answers
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 ...
4
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3answers
2k views

Did WW2-era aircraft have constant-speed or variable-pitch props?

This is slightly related to my other question on variable-pitch controls. I want to know if WW2-era aircraft typically had variable-pitch or constant-speed propellers. Variable-pitch lets the pilot ...
4
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1answer
592 views

Where to find information on the Daimler-Benz 606/610?

There seems to be relatively little information regarding either of these engines on the web. Anyone have an idea where I can find more info?
3
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1answer
582 views

No alternate destination when flying from Oakland to Honolulu: is that correct?

When you file a flight plan from Oakland to Honolulu you put "Glory" as your alternate destination.[1] Is that the correct way to file the flightplan? Scanning back a few paragraphs, the airplane ...