'Aircraft type' is a classification or style of aircraft.
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A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat against other aircraft, as opposed to bombers and attack aircraft, whose main mission is to attack ground targets. The hallmarks of a fighter are its speed, maneuverability, and small size relative to other combat aircraft.
Many fighters have secondary ground-attack capabilities, and some are designed as dual-purpose fighter-bombers. Often, aircraft that do not fulfill the standard definition are called fighters. This may be for political or national security reasons, for advertising purposes or other reasons.
A fighter's main purpose is to establish air superiority over a battlefield. Since World War I, achieving and maintaining air superiority has been essential for victory in conventional warfare. The success or failure of a belligerent's efforts to gain air supremacy hinges on several factors including the skill of its pilots, the tactical soundness of its doctrine for deploying its fighters and the numbers and performance of those fighters. Because of the importance of air superiority, since the dawn of aerial combat armed forces have constantly competed to develop technologically superior
Ultralight aircraft in the United States are much smaller and lighter than ultralight aircraft in all other countries.
In the USA ultralights are classified as vehicles and not aircraft and are thus not required to be registered or for the pilot to have a pilot licence or certificate.
Regulation of ultralight aircraft in the United States is covered by the Code of Federal Regulations Title 14 (Federal Aviation Regulations) Part 103 or 14 CFR Part 103, which defines an "ultralight" as a vehicle that:
Ultralight vehicles cannot be flown over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons.
Weight allowances can be made for amphibious landing gear, and ballistic parachute systems.
In the United States, while no license or training is required by law for ultralights, training is highly advisable.
The G-Class Blimps were a series of non-rigid airships (blimps) used by the United States Navy. In 1935, instead of developing a new design airship, the Navy purchased the Goodyear Blimp Defender for use as a trainer and utility airship assigning it the designator G-1. Defender was built by the Goodyear Aircraft Company of Akron, Ohio and was the largest blimp in the company’s fleet of airships that were used for advertising and as passenger airships. Additional G-class airships were bought during World War II to support training needs.
After purchase on September 23, 1935, G-1 was in constant use until it was lost in a mid-air collision on 8 June 1942 with another blimp, the L-2. The two blimps were conducting experimental visual and photographic observations during night flight. Although twelve people were killed in the crash, G-1 had demonstrated her capabilities as a trainer and utility blimp. As the Navy needed additional training airships during the World War II war time build up, a contract was awarded on 24 December 1942 for seven more G-class airships. These were assigned the designation Goodyear ZNN-G. (Z = lighter-than-air; N = non-rigid; N = trainer; G = type/class).
A maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), also known as a patrol aircraft, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, or by the older American term patrol bomber, is a fixed-wing aircraft designed to operate for long durations over water in maritime patrol roles—in particular anti-submarine, anti-ship and search and rescue.
The first aircraft that would now be identified as patrol bombers were flown by the Royal Naval Air Service during World War I, primarily on anti-submarine patrols. At first blimps were the only aircraft capable of staying aloft for the long periods of time (as much as 10 hours) needed by the patrols whilst carrying a useful payload. Shorter-range patrols were mounted by adapted bombers such as the Sopwith 1½ Strutter. Later in the war aeroplanes were developed specifically for the role. These were usually large floatplanes such as the Short 184 or flying boats such as the Felixstowe F.2.
Many of the World War II patrol aircraft were converted from long-range bombers or airliners (such as Germany's Focke-Wulf Fw 200 "Condor"). To cover the Mid-Atlantic Gap that existed the British introduced a "Very Long Range" version of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber which was capable
Ground-attack aircraft are military aircraft with primary role of attacking targets on the ground with greater precision than bombers and prepared to face stronger low-level air defense. This class of aircraft is ideal for close air support on the battlefield, but they are also employed in other missions, for example air interdiction or offensive counter air.
A more general category is an attack aircraft which, in addition to ground-attack types, includes aircraft for naval air-to-surface missions. To clarify a common mistake: as opposed to fighter aircraft, attack aircraft are not necessarily intended for air-to-air combat. However, they are often equipped with air-to-air missiles for self-defense.
Until the precision-guided munitions became standard in 1960s, the term "attack aircraft" implied a heavily armored aircraft armed with both bombs and with forward-firing automatic weapon—the former were more powerful, but the latter enabled strafing attacks of much higher precision. In particular, the Russian "shturmovik" and German "Schlachtflugzeug" terms may be seen in the literature. Also many fighter-bombers of the era fell into this category naturally, if sufficiently
A heavy bomber is a bomber aircraft of the largest size and load carrying capacity, and usually the longest range.
In New START, the term "heavy bomber" is used for two types of bombers:
The term was most commonly used prior to and during World War II, when engine power was so meager that bomber designs had to be carefully tailored to their missions. These sorts of distinctions were disappearing by the middle of the war, by which time the typical fighter aircraft could carry a 2,000 pounds (910 kg) load and light bombers were taking over roles and missions formerly flown by medium bombers.
Heavy bombers of the WWII era also were distinguished by their heavy defensive armament, for protection from smaller and usually much faster fighter aircraft. British designs often had three gun turrets with a total of 8 machine guns. U.S. heavy bomber designs, optimized for formation flying, had upwards of 10 machine guns and/or cannons in both powered turrets and manually operated flexible mounts to deliver the optimal protective arcs of fire. Positions for these guns included tail turrets, side gun ports which could be located either just behind the bombardier's clear nose glazing as "cheek"
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms. Unlike aerodynamic aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, which produce lift by moving a wing through the air, aerostatic aircraft stay aloft by having a large "envelope" filled with a gas which is less dense than the surrounding atmosphere. The first lifting gas used was hydrogen, although this had well-known concerns over its flammability. Helium was rare in most parts of the world, but large amounts were discovered in the USA. This meant that this non-flammable gas was rarely used for airships outside of the USA. All modern airships, since the 1960s, use helium.
The main types of airship are non-rigid (or blimps), semi-rigid and rigid. Blimps are "pressure" airships where internal pressure, maintained by forcing air into an internal ballonet, is used to both maintain the shape of the airship and its structural integrity. Semi-rigid airships maintain the envelope shape by internal pressure, but have some form of internal support such as a fixed keel to which control and engine
Primary gliders are a category of aircraft that enjoyed worldwide popularity during the 1920s and 1930s as people strove for simple and inexpensive ways to learn to fly.
Constructed of wood, metal cables and cloth, primary gliders were very light and easy to fly. They generally had no cockpit and no instruments.
Primary gliders were generally launched by bungee cord, whereby a rubber rope was arranged in a "V" with the glider at the apex. The ends of the rope were pulled by hand to launch the glider from a slope. Primaries were also launched by auto-tow and auto-bungee tow. Ramp launching from cliffs was also attempted successfully.
Modern versions of primary gliders are still built, but, while they are much like the originals in appearance, they are usually constructed with composites and safety enhancements.
Stealth aircraft are aircraft that use stealth technology to avoid detection by employing a combination of features to interfere with radar as well as reduce visibility in the infrared, visual, audio, and radio frequency (RF) spectrum. Development of stealth technology likely began in Germany during World War II. Well-known modern examples of stealth aircraft include the United States' F-117 Nighthawk (1981–2008), the B-2 Spirit, the F-22 Raptor, and the F-35 Lightning II.
While no aircraft is totally invisible to radar, stealth aircraft make it difficult for conventional radar to detect or track the aircraft effectively, increasing the odds of a successful attack. Stealth is the combination of passive low observable (LO) features and active emitters such as Low Probability of Intercept Radars, radios and laser designators. These are usually combined with active defenses such as chaff, flares, and ECM. It is accomplished by using a complex design philosophy to reduce the ability of an opponent's sensors to detect, track, or attack the stealth aircraft. This philosophy also takes into account the heat, sound, and other emissions of the aircraft as these can also be used to locate
A motor glider is a fixed-wing aircraft that can be flown with or without engine power. The FAI Gliding Commission Sporting Code definition is: A fixed wing aerodyne equipped with a means of propulsion (MoP), capable of sustained soaring flight without thrust from the means of propulsion.
In 1935, an occasional or auxiliary motor that could be retracted was suggested by Sir John Carden.
Most motor gliders are equipped with a propeller, which may be fixed, feathering, or retractable. However jet engines are now available from some manufacturers.
Motor with fixed or full feathering propellers are generally classified as Touring Motor Gliders (TMGs). TMGs can take off and cruise like an airplane or soar with power off, like a glider.
They are fitted with front-mounted engines, similar to a small airplane. The large wingspans of TMGs provide a moderate gliding performance, though worse than that of unpowered gliders. However TMGs are more efficient than conventional light aircraft.
Most TMGs are designed with engines of 80 to 100 hp (75 kW) and typically cruise (under power) at 85 - 100 knots (190 km/h). Most have fuel tanks capable of holding 50 and up to 100 liters (13 to 26 US
A vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft is one that can hover, take off and land vertically. This classification includes fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such as cyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors. Some VTOL aircraft can operate in other modes as well, such as CTOL (conventional take-off and landing), STOL (short take-off and landing), and/or STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing). Others, such as some helicopters, can only operate by VTOL, due to the aircraft lacking landing gear that can handle horizontal motion. VTOL is a subset of V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing).
Besides the ubiquitous helicopter, there are currently two types of VTOL aircraft in military service: craft using a tiltrotor, such as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, and aircraft using directed jet thrust such as the Harrier family. Generally speaking, VTOL aircraft capable of V/STOL use it wherever possible, since it typically significantly increases takeoff weight, range or payload compared to pure VTOL.
The helicopter's form of VTOL allows it to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. Its flight is either controlled autonomously by computers in the vehicle, or under the remote control of a navigator, or pilot (in military UAVs called a Combat Systems Officer on UCAVs) on the ground or in another vehicle.
There are a wide variety of drone shapes, sizes, configurations, and characteristics. Historically, UAVs were simple remotely piloted aircraft, but autonomous control is increasingly being employed.
They are predominantly deployed for military applications, but also used in a small but growing number of civil applications, such as firefighting and nonmilitary security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too 'dull, dirty, or dangerous' for manned aircraft.
The earliest attempt at a powered unmanned aerial vehicle was A. M. Low's "Aerial Target" of 1916. Nikola Tesla described a fleet of unmanned aerial combat vehicles in 1915. A number of remote-controlled airplane advances followed, including the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, during and after World War I, including the first scale RPV (Remote Piloted
The Kamikaze (神風, literally: "God wind"; common translation: "Divine wind") [kamikaꜜze] ( listen), official name: Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (特別攻撃隊), Tokkō Tai (特攻隊), or Tokkō (特攻), were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy warships more effectively than was possible with conventional attacks. Numbers quoted vary, but at least 47 Allied vessels, from PT boats to escort carriers, were sunk by kamikaze attacks, and about 300 damaged. About 14% of kamikaze attacks managed to hit a ship.
Kamikaze aircraft were essentially pilot-guided explosive missiles, purpose-built or converted from conventional aircraft, without the ability to deliver torpedoes or bombs or attack other aircraft, or even to land. Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships in what was called a "Body Attack" (体当たり; 体当り, taiatari) in planes laden with some combination of explosives, bombs, torpedoes and full fuel tanks; accuracy was much better than a conventional attack, and the payload larger. A kamikaze could sustain damage which would disable a conventional attacker
A very light jet, entry-level jet or personal jet, previously known as a microjet, is a category of small jet aircraft approved for single-pilot operation, seating 4-8 people, with a maximum take-off weight of under 10,000 pounds (4,540 kg). They are lighter than what is commonly termed business jets and are designed to be flown by single pilot owners.
Examples include the Eclipse 500, Cessna Mustang and Embraer Phenom 100.
In December 2010 AvWeb's Paul Bertorelli explained that the term very light jet is not used in the aviation industry anymore, "personal jet is the description du jour. You don't hear the term VLJ—very light jet--much anymore and some people in the industry tell me they think it's because that term was too tightly coupled to Eclipse, a failure that the remaining players want to, understandably, distance themselves from."
VLJs are intended to have lower operating costs than conventional jets, and to be able to operate from runways as short as 3,000 feet (914 m) either for personal use or in point-to-point air taxi service. In the United States the Small Aircraft Transportation System is aimed at providing air service to areas ignored by airlines.
A wide-body aircraft is a large airliner with two passenger aisles, also known as a widebody aircraft or twin-aisle aircraft. The typical fuselage diameter is 5 to 6 m (16 to 20 ft). In the typical wide-body economy cabin, passengers are seated seven to ten abreast, allowing a total capacity of 200 to 850 passengers. The largest wide-body aircraft are over 6 m (20 ft) wide, and can accommodate up to eleven passengers abreast in high-density configurations.
By comparison, a traditional narrow-body airliner has a diameter of 3 to 4 m (10 to 13 ft), with a single aisle, and seats between two and six people abreast.
Wide-body aircraft were originally designed for a combination of efficiency and passenger comfort. However, airlines quickly gave in to economic factors, and reduced the extra passenger space in order to maximize revenue and profits.
Wide-body aircraft are also used for the transport of commercial freight and cargo and other special uses, described further below.
The largest wide-body aircraft, such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380, are known as jumbo jets due to their very large size.
The Bristol Brabazon was a widebody transatlantic design that first flew in 1949 but
A medium bomber is a moderately large bomber aircraft capable of carrying large bomb loads for moderate distances at medium altitudes, especially one having a gross loaded weight of 45000 to 113000 kg (100,000 to 250,000 pounds).
It is designed to operate with medium bombloads over medium distances; the name serves to distinguish them from the larger heavy bombers and smaller light bombers. The term was used prior to and during World War II, when engine power was so meager that designs had to be carefully tailored to their missions.
The medium bomber was generally considered to be any level bomber design that delivered about 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) of ordnance over ranges of about 1,500 to 2,000 mi (2,400 to 3,200 km). Heavy bombers were those with a nominal load of 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) or more, and light bombers carried 2,000lb (907kg). These distinctions were beginning to disappear by the middle of World War II, when the average fighter aircraft could now carry a 2,000 lb (907 kg) load and ever more powerful engines allowed "light" bomber designs (and later jet fighter-bombers) to largely take over the missions formerly filled by mediums.
After the war the term disappeared
Unpowered aircraft are a group of aerial vehicles that can fly without onboard propulsion. They can be classified as gliders, balloons and kites. In this instance, 'flight' means a trajectory that is not merely a vertical descent such as a parachute. In the case of kites, the flight is obtained by tethering to a fixed or moving object, perhaps another kite. In the case of balloons, the flight is free but there is little directional control. The remainder of this group are the heavier-than-air craft such as gliders, hang gliders. and paragliders that have complete directional control and so can fly freely.
The first manned aircraft were kites, balloons and gliders. Kites are recorded in ancient Chinese history as being used for lifting men. Unmanned hot air balloons are also recorded in Chinese history. However the first free flight (i.e., untethered) by manned craft was by balloon built by the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France in 1783. The first practical, controllable glider was designed and built by the British scientist and pioneer George Cayley who many recognise as the first aeronautical engineer. It flew in 1849. Thereafter gliders were
An amphibious helicopter is a helicopter that is intended to rest and take off from either land or water. Amphibious helicopters are used for a variety of specialized purposes including air-sea rescue, marine salvage and oceanography, in addition to other tasks that can be accomplished with any non-amphibious helicopter. An amphibious helicopter can be designed with a waterproof or water-resistant hull like a flying boat or it can be fitted with utility floats in the same manner as a floatplane.
Helicopters have taken a primary role in air-sea rescue since their introduction in the 1940s. Helicopters can fly in rougher weather than fixed-wing aircraft, and they can deliver injured passengers directly to hospitals or other emergency facilities. A practical amphibious helicopter first appeared in 1941 and the water-landing feature soon proved its worth. Non-amphibious helicopters were required to hover above the scene of a water accident and utilize a hoist but amphibious helicopters were capable of setting down on the water to effect a rescue more directly.
In 1941, Igor Sikorsky fitted utility floats (also called pontoons) to the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, making the first practical
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, firing torpedoes at them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.
Strategic bombing are heavy bombers primarily designed for long-range bombing missions against strategic targets such as supply bases, bridges, factories, shipyards, and cities themselves, in order to damage an enemy's war effort. Current examples include the strategic nuclear-armed strategic bombers: B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress, Tupolev Tu-95 'Bear', Tupolev Tu-22M 'Backfire'; historically notable examples are the: Gotha G, Avro Lancaster, Heinkel He-111, Junkers Ju 88, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-29 Superfortress, and Tupolev Tu-16 'Badger'.
Tactical bombing, aimed at enemy military units and installations, is typically assigned to smaller aircraft operating at shorter ranges, typically along the troops on the ground or sea. This role is filled by various aircraft tactical bomber classes, as different as light bombers, medium bombers, dive bombers, interdictors, fighter-bombers, ground-attack aircraft, multirole combat aircraft, among others. Current examples: F-15E Strike
A jet airliner is an airliner that is powered by jet engines. This term is sometimes contracted to jetliner or jet.
First generation jet airliner travel was relativity noisy and fuel inefficient compared to airliner flying today. These inefficiencies were later addressed by the invention of turboprop and turbofan engines.
The first airliners with turbojet propulsion were experimental conversions of the Avro Lancastrian piston engined airliner, which were flown with several types of early jet engine, including the de Havilland Ghost and the Rolls-Royce Nene. These, however, retained the two inboard piston engines, the jets being housed in the outboard nacelles, and these aircraft were therefore of 'mixed' propulsion. The first airliner with full jet power was the Nene-powered Vickers VC.1 Viking G-AJPH, which first flew on 6 April 1948.
The early jet airliners possessed much lower levels of noise and vibration than contemporary piston-engined ones, so much so that in 1947, after piloting a jet powered aircraft for the first time, Wing Commander Maurice A. Smith, then-Editor of Flight magazine, stated; "Piloting a jet aircraft has confirmed one opinion I had formed after flying as a
A fixed wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed and the shape of the wings. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which the wings form a rotor mounted on a spinning shaft and ornithopters in which the wings flap in similar manner to a bird.
The wings of a fixed-wing aircraft are not necessarily rigid; kites, hang-gliders and aeroplanes using wing-warping or variable geometry are all regarded as fixed-wing aircraft.
A powered fixed-wing aircraft that gains forward thrust from an engine is typically called an aeroplane, airplane, or simply a plane. Aeroplanes include powered paragliders, powered hang gliders and some ground effect vehicles.
Unpowered fixed-wing aircraft, including free-flying gliders of various kinds and tethered kites, can use moving air to gain height.
Most fixed-wing aircraft are flown by a pilot on board the aircraft, but some are designed to be remotely or computer-controlled.
Kites were used approximately 2,800 years ago in China, where materials ideal for kite building were readily available. Alternatively, other authors hold that leaf kites existed far before
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that can fly like an airplane. Typically, it takes the form of a spacecraft equipped with wings, although lifting bodies have been designed and tested as well. The propulsion to reach space may be purely rocket based or may use the assistance of air-breathing engines.
However, for an aircraft to successfully fly in Earth's atmosphere, it must be able to successfully control, power and sustain its own flight. If a spaceplane cannot successfully control itself, power itself or sustain its flight once reentering Earth's atmosphere, it cannot be considered successful at aviation in the atmosphere.
Only five spaceplanes have successfully flown to date, having reentered Earth's atmosphere, returned to Earth, and safely landed — the X-15, Space Shuttle, Buran, SpaceShipOne, and X-37. All five are rocket gliders. Only rockets and rocket-powered aircraft have thus far succeeded in reaching space. Two of
An air superiority fighter is a type of fighter aircraft intended to gain air superiority in a war, by entering and seizing control of enemy airspace. Air superiority fighters are designed to effectively engage enemy fighters, more than other types of aircraft. They are usually more expensive and procured in smaller numbers than multirole fighters.
During World War II and through the Korean War, fighters were classified by their role: heavy fighter, interceptor, escort fighter, night fighter, and so forth. With the development of guided missiles in the 1950s, design diverged between fighters optimized to fight in the beyond visual range (BVR) regime (interceptors), and fighters optimized to fight in the within visual range (WVR) regime (air superiority fighters). In United States, the influential proponents of BVR developed the fighters with no forward-firing gun, such as the original F-4 Phantom II, as it was thought that they would never even need to resort to WVR combat. These aircraft would sacrifice high maneuverability, and instead focus on remaining performance characteristics, as they presumably would never engage in dogfight with enemy fighters.
However, combat experience
A reusable launch system (or reusable launch vehicle, RLV) is a launch system which is capable of launching a launch vehicle into space more than once. This contrasts with expendable launch systems, where each launch vehicle is launched once and then discarded.
No true orbital reusable launch system is currently in use. The closest example is the partially reusable Space Shuttle. The orbiter, which includes the main engines, and the two solid rocket boosters, are reused after several months of refitting work for each launch. The external fuel drop tank is typically discarded, but it is possible for it be re-used in space for various applications.
Orbital RLVs are thought to provide the possibility of low cost and highly reliable access to space. However, reusability implies weight penalties such as non-ablative reentry shielding and possibly a stronger structure to survive multiple uses, and given the lack of experience with these vehicles, the actual costs and reliability are yet to be seen.
In the early 1950s popular science fiction often depicted space launch vehicles as either single-stage reusable rocketships which could launch and land vertically (SSTO VTVL), or single-stage
An airliner is a large fixed-wing aircraft for transporting passengers and cargo. Such aircraft are operated by airlines. Although the definition of an airliner can vary from country to country, an airliner is typically defined as an aircraft intended for carrying multiple passengers in commercial service.
When the Wright brothers made the world’s first sustained heavier-than-air flight, they laid the foundation for what would become a major transport industry. Their flight in 1903 was just 11 years before what is often defined as the world’s first airliner. These airliners would change the world socially, economically, and politically in a way that had never been done before.
If an airliner is defined as a plane intended for carrying multiple passengers in commercial service, the Russian Sikorsky Ilya Muromets was the first official passenger aircraft. The Ilya Muromets was a luxurious aircraft with an isolated passenger saloon, wicker chairs, bedroom, lounge and a bathroom. The aircraft also had heating and electrical lighting. The Ilya Muromets first flew on December 10, 1913. On February 25, 1914, it took off for its first demonstration flight with 16 passengers aboard. From
A light bomber is a relatively small and fast class of military bomber aircraft which were primarily employed before the 1950s. Such aircraft would typically not carry more than one ton of ordnance.
Light bombers of World War I were single-engine aircraft with a bomb load of about 50–400 kg. One of the most famous was the Airco DH.4 designed by Geoffrey de Havilland. They could often also serve as reconnaissance aircraft (for example the Avro 504).
Prior to World War II, engine power was so meager that there were several types of bombers: light, medium, and heavy, each tuned to a particular performance and mission niche. As fighters grew in size and power to be able to carry the same sorts of loads at even greater speeds, light bombers were replaced around the 1950s and the term fell from general use.
Light bombers of World War II were single-engine or, less commonly, twin-engine aircraft with a bomb load of about 500-1,000 kg. Designs included the Fairey Battle, Mitsubishi Ki-51 (known to the Allies as "Sonia"), Lockheed Hudson, and Martin Baltimore. They could also be used in the reconnaissance role.
Some of them were dive bombers, such as the Vultee A-31 Vengeance and multi-role
A sub-orbital space flight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution.
For example, the path of an object launched from Earth that reaches 100 km (62 mi) above sea level, and then falls back to Earth, is considered a sub-orbital spaceflight. Some sub-orbital flights have been undertaken to test spacecraft and launch vehicles later intended for orbital spaceflight. Other vehicles are specifically designed only for sub-orbital flight; examples include manned vehicles such as the X-15 and SpaceShipOne, and unmanned ones such as ICBMs and sounding rockets.
Sub-orbital spaceflights are distinct from flights that attain orbit but use retro-rockets to deorbit after less than one full orbital period. Thus the flights of the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System would not be considered sub-orbital; instead these are simply considered flights to low Earth orbit.
Usually a rocket is used, but experimentally a sub-orbital spaceflight has also been achieved with a space gun.
By one definition a sub-orbital spaceflight
An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an aircraft that can take off and land on both land and water. Fixed-wing amphibious aircraft are seaplanes (flying boats and floatplanes) that are equipped with retractable wheels, at the expense of extra weight and complexity, plus diminished range and fuel economy compared to planes designed for land or water only. Some amphibians are fitted with reinforced keels which act as skiis, allowing them to land on snow or ice with their wheels up and are dubbed tri-phibians.
Floatplanes often have floats that are interchangeable with wheeled landing gear (thereby producing a conventional land-based aircraft) however in cases where this is not practical amphibious floatplanes, such as the amphibious version of the DHC Otter, incorporate retractable wheels within their floats.
Many amphibian aircraft are of the flying boat type. These aircraft, and those designed as floatplanes with a single main float under the fuselage centerline (such as the Loening OL), require outrigger floats to provide lateral stability so as to avoid dipping a wingtip, which can destroy an aircraft if it happens at speed, or can cause the wingtip to fill with water and sink
A suborbital spaceplane is a spaceplane designed specifically for sub-orbital spaceflight. A few projects of civil and military suborbital spaceplanes were in past in Nazi Germany, United States, Soviet Union etc. From the beginning of 21st century, it is expected that this type of spacecraft, as projects of many private companies, will play a key role in early space tourism.
The first ever true suborbital spaceplane was the North American X-15, which first flew above the Kármán line in 1963.
The first privately built and privately funded suborbital spaceplane was Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne, which first flew above the Kármán line in 2004.
A torpedo bomber is a bomber aircraft designed primarily to attack ships with aerial torpedoes, but which could also carry out conventional bombings. Torpedo bombers existed almost exclusively prior to and during World War II when they were an important element in many famous battles, notably the British attack at Taranto and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The introduction of improved weapons that could be carried by conventional bombers, notably anti-shipping missiles, and the vulnerability of torpedo bombers during the attack, led to the type's disappearance almost immediately after the war.
Torpedo bombers first appeared during the latter years of World War I.
Generally, they carried torpedoes designed for air launch, that were smaller and lighter than those used by submarines and surface warships. Nonetheless, as an airborne torpedo could weigh as much as 2000 pounds (or 907 kilograms), more than twice the bomb load of a contemporary single-engined bomber, the aircraft carrying it needed to have a more powerful engine. Carrying torpedoes also required a long bomb-bay (or in any case a longer fuselage), which was why a special type of plane was needed for this role.
A miniature UAV or Small UAV (SUAV), is an unmanned aerial vehicle small enough to be man-portable.
Miniature UAVs range from micro air vehicles (MAVs) that can be carried by an infantryman, to man-portable UAVs that can be carried and launched like an infantry anti-aircraft missile.
The notion that small, even very small, UAVs might have practical uses arose in the early 1990s. In 1992, DARPA conducted a workshop titled "Future Technology-Driven Revolutions In Military Operations". One of the topics in the workshop was "mobile microrobots". The idea of using very small "microdrones" was discussed, and after initial skepticism the idea started to gain momentum.
The RAND Corporation released a paper on the microdrone concept in 1994 that was widely circulated. DARPA conducted a series of "paper studies" and workshops on the concept in 1995 and 1996, leading to early engineering studies by the Lincoln Laboratories at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington DC.
The studies demonstrated that the concept was feasible. In 1997, DARPA then began a multi-year, $35 million USD development program to develop "micro air
An agricultural aircraft is an aircraft that has been built or converted for agricultural use - usually aerial application of pesticides (crop dusting) or fertilizer (aerial topdressing); in these roles they are referred to as "crop dusters" or "top dressers". Agricultural aircraft are also used for hydroseeding.
The most common agricultural aircraft are fixed-wing, such as the Air Tractor, Cessna Ag-wagon, Gippsland GA200, Grumman Ag Cat, M-18 Dromader, PAC Fletcher, Piper PA-36 Pawnee Brave and Rockwell Thrush Commander but helicopters are also used.
Crop dusting with insecticides began in the 1920s in the United States. The first widely used agricultural aircraft were converted war-surplus biplanes, such as the De Havilland Tiger Moth and Stearman. After more effective insecticides and fungicides were developed in the 1940s, and aerial topdressing was developed by government research in New Zealand, purpose-built agricultural fixed-wing aircraft became common.
In the US and Europe they are typically small, simple, and rugged. Many have spraying systems built into their wings, and pumps are usually driven by wind turbines. In places where farms are larger, such as New Zealand,
A cargo aircraft (also known as freight aircraft, freighter, airlifter, or cargo jet) is a fixed-wing aircraft designed or converted for the carriage of goods, rather than passengers. They are usually devoid of passenger amenities, and generally feature one or more large doors for the loading and unloading of cargo. Freighters may be operated by civil passenger or cargo airlines, by private individuals or by the armed forces of individual countries. However most air freight is carried in special ULD containers in the cargo holds of passenger aircraft.
Aircraft designed for cargo flight usually have a number of features that distinguish them from conventional passenger aircraft: a "fat" looking fuselage, a high-wing to allow the cargo area to sit near the ground, a large number of wheels to allow it to land at unprepared locations, and a high-mounted tail to allow cargo to be driven directly into and off the aircraft.
Aircraft were put to use carrying cargo in the form of air mail as early as 1911. Although the earliest aircraft were not designed primarily as cargo carriers, by the mid 1920s aircraft manufacturers were designing and building dedicated cargo aircraft.
A regional jet (RJ), is a class of short to medium-range turbofan powered airliners.
The term "regional jet" describes a range of short to medium-haul turbofan powered aircraft, whose use throughout the world expanded after the advent of airline deregulation in the United States in 1978.
Regional jet airliners are not a new concept in aviation. Aeroflot, for example, used Yakolev Yak-40 regional sized mini-jet airliners for decades when its airline functioned as a state controlled national directive.
Large 70-100 passenger short haul regional aircraft in the western world have existed for years. National "Flag carrier airlines" began ordering the first true purpose-built short-haul airliner, the Sud Aviation Caravelle, a twin turbojet airliner designed for use upon inter-European routes. To speed manufacturing, the Caravelle used the forward fuselage nose section of the de Havilland Comet, the West's first large-scale commercial jetliner, which was not as effective in continental-European flights.
Many of the post World War II airliners were often used on shorter and economically significant prestige routes such as London-Paris, or New York-Chicago, by the world's major
The Martin M-130 was a commercial flying boat designed and built in 1935 by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland, for Pan American Airways. Only three M-130s were built: the China Clipper, the Philippine Clipper and the Hawaii Clipper. A fourth flying boat (designated as M-156) called the Russian Clipper was built for the Soviet Union which was essentially identical to the three Pan Am models except that it had a larger wing (giving it a longer range) and twin vertical stabilizers.
Martin designated them as the Martin Ocean Transports, but to the public they were all referred to as the China Clipper, a name which evolved into a generic term for Pan Am's entire fleet of large flying boats - the Martin M-130, Sikorsky S-42, and Boeing 314.
Designed to meet Pan American Airways President Juan Trippe's desire for a trans-Pacific aircraft, the M-130 was an all-metal flying boat which employed streamlined aerodynamics and powerful engines, selling at US$417,000 a copy, to achieve Pan Am's specifications for range and payload. The M-130's first flight was on December 30, 1934. On November 22, 1935, the China Clipper, piloted by Captain Edwin C. Musick and First Officer
A strategic bomber is a heavy bomber aircraft designed to drop large amounts of ordnance onto a distant target for the purposes of debilitating an enemy's capacity to wage war. Unlike tactical bombers, which are used in the battle zone to attack troops and military equipment, strategic bombers are built to fly into an enemy's heartland to destroy strategic targets, e.g. major military installations, factories and cities. In addition to strategic bombing, strategic bombers can be used for tactical missions. The United States, Russia and China (leased from Russia) maintain strategic bombers.
The first strategic bombing efforts took place during World War I (1914-18), initially by Russians with their Sikorsky Ilya Muromets bomber (the first heavy four-engine aircraft), and by the Germans using zeppelins or long-range multi-engine Gotha aircraft. Both reached England on bombing raids by 1915, forcing the British to create extensive defense systems including some of the first anti-aircraft guns that were often used with searchlights to highlight the enemy machines overhead. Late in the war, American fliers under the command of Brig. Gen. William Mitchell were developing multi-aircraft
An air ambulance is an aircraft used for emergency medical assistance in situations where either a traditional ambulance cannot reach the scene easily or quickly enough, or the patient needs to be transported over a distance or terrain that makes air transportation the most practical transport. They can also aid in the search for missing or wanted people. These and related operations are referred to as Aeromedical. Air ambulance crews are supplied with equipment that enables them to provide medical treatment to a critically injured or ill patient. Common equipment for air ambulances includes ventilators, medication, an ECG and monitoring unit, CPR equipment, and stretchers. An important distinction should be made between a medically staffed and equipped air ambulance which can provide medical care in flight, and the use of a non-medicalized aircraft simply for patient transportation, without care in flight. The military and NATO refer to the former as "Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)" and to the latter as "Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC)" respectively.
As with many innovations in Emergency Medical Service (EMS), the concept of transporting the injured by aircraft has its origins in the
In fiction, a flying car is a car that can be flown in much the same way as a car may be driven. In some cases such flying cars can also be driven on roads.
Flying cars usually appear in science fiction, but some fantasy films, such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, employ the same motif. In most cases the exact mechanism for achieving flight is never revealed.
In addition, flying cars have become a running joke; the question "Where is my flying car?" is emblematic of the supposed failure of modern technology to match futuristic visions that were promoted in earlier decades.
In science fiction, the vision of a flying car is usually a practical aircraft that the average person can fly directly from any point to another (e.g., from home to work or to the supermarket) without the requirement for roads, runways or other specially-prepared operating areas. In such works they can often start and land automatically in a garage or on a parking lot. In addition, the science-fiction version of the flying car typically resembles a conventional car with no visible means of propulsion, unlike that of an aeroplane.
A flying car is subtly different from a hovercar, which flies at a constant altitude of
A light-sport aircraft, also known as light sport aircraft or LSA, is a small aircraft that is simple to fly and which meets certain regulations set by a National aviation authority restricting weight and performance. For example, in Australia the Civil Aviation Safety Authority defines a light-sport aircraft as a heavier-than-air or lighter-than-air craft, other than a helicopter, with a maximum gross takeoff weight of not more than 560 kilograms (1,200 lb) for lighter-than-air craft; 600 kilograms (1,300 lb) for heavier-than-air craft not intended for operation on water; or 650 kilograms (1,400 lb) for aircraft intended for operation on water. It must have a maximum stall speed of 45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph) in landing configuration; a maximum of two seats; a maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh)—138 mph (120 knots) CAS; fixed undercarriage (except for amphibious aircraft which may have repositionable gear, and gliders which may have retractable gear); an unpressurized cabin; and a single non-turbine engine driving a propeller if it is a powered aircraft.
In the US, several distinct groups of aircraft may be flown as light-sport. Existing certificated
A balloon is a type of aerostat that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner.
The "basket" or capsule that is suspended by cables beneath a balloon and carries people, animals, or automatic equipment (including cameras and telescopes, and flight-control mechanisms) may also be called the gondola.
There are three main types of balloons:
Unmanned hot air balloons are popular in Chinese history. Zhuge Liang of the Shu Han kingdom, in the Three Kingdoms era (220–280 AD) used airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns are known as Kongming lanterns (孔明灯).
There is also some speculation, from a demonstration led by British modern hot air balloonist Julian Nott in the late 1970s and again in 2003, that hot air balloons could have been used by people of the Nazca culture of Peru some 1500 to 2000 years ago, as a tool for designing the famous Nazca ground figures and lines.
In 1709 Brazilian cleric Bartolomeu de Gusmão made a balloon filled with heated air rise inside a room in Lisbon. He also built a balloon named
A monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane or triplane. Since the late 1930s it has been the most common form for a fixed wing aircraft.
The main distinction between types of monoplane is where the wings attach to the fuselage:
Some of the first attempts of heavier-than-air flying machines were monoplanes; the Monoplane built in 1874 by Felix du Temple de la Croix is one example. Other early attempts of flight by a monoplane were carried out in 1884 by Alexander Mozhaysky. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the first successful monoplane flight was on 18 March 1906, covering just 12 m (40 feet) at Montesson, France in a craft fashioned by Traian Vuia, a Romanian inventor.
The first successful aircraft were biplanes, but many pioneering aircraft were monoplanes, for instance the Blériot XI that flew across the English Channel in 1909. Throughout 1909-1910 Hubert Latham set multiple altitude records in his Antoinette IV monoplane, eventually reaching 1,384 m (4,541 ft). The Fokker Eindecker of 1915 was a successful fighter aircraft. The first all metal aircraft was a monoplane, the German Junkers J 1 which first flew in
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections (called sponsons) from the fuselage. Flying boats were some of the largest aircraft of the first half of the 20th century, superseded in size only by bombers developed during World War II. Their advantage lay in using water instead of expensive land-based runways, making them the basis for international airlines in the interwar period. They were also commonly used for maritime patrol and air-sea rescue.
Following World War II, their use gradually tailed off, partially because of the investments in airports during the war. In the 21st century, flying boats maintain a few niche uses, such as for dropping water on forest fires, air transport around archipelagos, and access to undeveloped or roadless areas. Many modern seaplane variants, whether float or flying boat types are convertible amphibian aircraft where either landing gear or flotation modes may be used to land and take off.
Henri Fabre, a French
A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target reduces the distance the bomb has to fall, which is the primary factor in determining the accuracy of the drop. Additionally, as the bomb's motion is primarily vertical, the complex parabolic trajectory is reduced to one that is much straighter and easy to calculate - even by eye. The rapid vertical motion of the aircraft also aids it in avoiding fire from anti-aircraft artillery, although diving to low altitude offsets this advantage as it brings the aircraft into range of smaller weapons.
A true dive bomber dives at a steep angle, normally between 45 and 90 degrees, and thus requires a very short pull-up after dropping its bombs. This demands an aircraft of extremely strong construction, and generally limited the class to light bomber designs with ordnance loads in the range of 1,000 lbs. This type of aircraft was most widely used before and during World War II; its use fell into decline shortly afterwards. The most famous examples are the Aichi D3A "Val" dive bomber which sank more allied warships during WWII than any other
An orbital spaceflight (or orbital flight) is a spaceflight in which a spacecraft is placed on a trajectory where it could remain in space for at least one orbit. To do this around the Earth, it must be on a free trajectory which has an altitude at perigee (altitude at closest approach) above 100 kilometers (62 mi) (this is, by at least one convention, the boundary of space). To remain in orbit at this altitude requires an orbital speed of ~7.8 km/s. Orbital speed is slower for higher orbits, but attaining them requires higher delta-v.
The expression "orbital spaceflight" is mostly used to distinguish from sub-orbital spaceflights, which are flights where apogee of a spacecraft reaches space but perigee is too low.
Orbital spaceflight from Earth has only been achieved by launch vehicles that use rocket engines for propulsion. To reach orbit, the rocket must impart to the payload a delta-v of about 9.3–10 km/s. This figure is mainly (~7.8 km/s) for horizontal acceleration needed to reach orbital speed, but allows for atmospheric drag (approximately 300 m/s with the ballistic coefficient of a 20 m long dense fuelled vehicle), gravity losses (depending on burn time and details of the