Innovation Info
Country (invented in): 
United States
Year Invented: 
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We cannot imagine traveling long distances today, without thinking of air travel. People travel every day and everywhere, even to the most remote corner in the world by dialing a travel agent and booking a flight. But just a century ago this was a very remote possibility. Most of the people who traveled across countries had to take a long arduous journey by sea. It took anywhere from a few weeks to months before one reached their destination. But all this changed with the invention of the Airplane.


What is the date of first ever human flight?

The modern day Airplane was first invented by two brothers, Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright in 1903. Their first successful flight was on Dec 17th, 1903. The plane flew on its own power for 12 secs and covered a distance of 120 ft. 


What is the history of Airplane?

People have been fascinated with the idea of flying long before the technology evolved and it was invented. The Chinese had come up with flying kites  as early as 200B.C. Leonardo daVinci  tried flying in 15th century though none of his devices could actually fly. Most of the pioneers around this time tried to make the flying machines very light, thinking that they have to be lighter to be able to fly.


It was only in the 20th century that aviation was taken a step further. Many pioneers had come up with  all kinds of  heavy and light designs for flying. But finally it was the Wright brothers who came up with a design that was actually heavy and was still able to fly. Though their first flight lasted  for only 12 seconds in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they  went onto develop and upgrade their plane and were able to fly for 30 miles nonstop by 1905. The aviation technology received a boost because of the First world war. The English, Germans and Americans were trying to get better than the other  for military uses. It was however only after the world wars ended that the aviation industry became more civilian focused.


How does an airplane work?

By the time the  first successful airplane was invented a whole  lot of concepts evolved and developed.  Aerodynamics and Bernoulli's principle, airfoil,etc had to be  evolving at the same time.  For an airplane to fly there are four types of forces that come into play. Lift, Drag, Thrust and, Gravity. For an airplane to fly it has to overcome the gravitational force. The lift produced is explained by " The Bernoulli's principle".


So what is Bernoulli's Principle?

Daniel Bernoulli was a Swiss scientist who lived during the eighteenth century. He studied the relationship between the speed of the fluid and its pressure. The principle states that "the pressure of a fluid or gas decreases as the speed of the fluid increases". Within the same fluid, high-speed flow is associated with low pressure, and low-speed flow is associated with high pressure.


This principle is used in designing the wing of the plane  which is the airfoil. The airfoil is designed so that its curved on the top and flat at the bottom . It is this design that makes the airplane fly. The design facilitates more air pressure to be created below the wing than above it, thus  creating a lift. For the plane to lift it has to move forward which is provided by the engine or the propeller and the plane is able to take off. To keep it moving upward more power is increased to the engine and while landing the power to the engine is reduced.


There are several factors that will vary the lift such as 

the shape of the airfoil, the angle of attack, area of the surface exposed to the airstream, the air density and air speed. 

The amount of lift created  depends on the  speed of the airplane, which means the faster the wing moves through the air the more air is forced over and under the wing, creating more lift. Then comes the density of air - The denser the air is, the more lift is produced. This is why airplanes climb better in winter as the colder air is denser. Some wing shapes are better at creating more lift than other shapes. In order to maintain a stable and level flight the aiplane's speed and pitch angle are important which are decided by calculating from the formula to determine the lift.

Lift = (1/2) * (air density) * (velocity) * (aircraft's wing area) * (coefficient of lift)
Based on their functions, airplanes are of different kinds,
  • Commercial Transport Planes : Freight planes, cargo carriers.
  • General Aviation Planes: Boeing 707, Boeing 747, Boeing 777, Boeing 300 and Boeing 400 are all examples of airplanes.
  • Military Planes: Fighters such as F-14,F-15,F-16,Bombers like B-52,B-1,B-2.
  • Sea Planes: These are  fixed wing planes that are capable of  taking off and landing on water. There are 3 types of sea planes,
  • Float planes, 
  • Flying Boats,
  • Amphibious planes:  Aeromarine 75, Boeing Clipper, Consolidated Commodore, Dornier Wal


Special Purpose Airplanes  are mostly the ones used in performing flying stunts, putting out forest fires,  or spraying chemical over crops.