Believe it or not, there was a time in history where boats and trains were the fastest way to travel long distances. I have become completely fascinated with the advancement airplanes have made since their inauguration less than a century and a half ago. Though the Wright brothers gave the flight industry the groundwork necessary for present success, many others helped to pave the way in getting air travel to where it is today.
It all began, as any invention does, with an idea. Otto Lilienthal wanted to have the ability to fly since his teenage years. Starting his journey with homemade wings, to finally creating the first successful glider in 1891, Otto became the official pioneer in humans taking flight. Following in his footsteps, the acclaimed Wilbur and Orville Wright controlled the first powered flight in history. The notorious trip took place in 1903, and 15 years later Wilbur made history again by taking an employee up into the with him, completing the first passenger flight. The brothers continued in their monumental achievements by opening the first flight school and the Army Airfield.
The designs of airplanes have continually changed since their origins. A german company is to thank for the discovery of metal being a viable material in aviation devices. They proved that the use of lighter weight metals has the capability to soar through the skies. In May of 1927, the first transatlantic flight successfully took place, and the number of air travelers increased by 3,000%, making it one of the most popular mean of transportation in the U.S.
Not as commonly recognized is the once existing airships, the only competitor that the commercial airplane has ever seen. Sadly, in 1937 the Hindenburg exploded mid-flight and was no longer considered a safe means of transportation. Finally ruling the skies, the commercial airplanes become the primary way the world travels great distances. From the 1940s to the 1960s developments of fighter jets and planes that serviced the wars became a trend, and many commercial flights and airports went offline in support of the military’s WWII efforts.
Although the first pressurized cabin jet came in the 1930s, the passenger airline game was changed forever with the introduction of the Boeing 747, in 1970. This plane was the largest mechanism developed in aviation in almost 40 years and it opened the doors for so many airlines to launch and become the successful companies they are today.
Airplanes have become a huge part of my life, and to think that they were merely wood and fabric devices a little more than a century ago is captivating. So many individuals, companies, and nations contributed in getting the airline industry to the dominant role it plays in our lives today. Hopefully, this brief overview of airplane history can help you appreciate those beasts in the sky as much as I do every day!