The first person(s) to actually sustain controlled, powered flight were not the Wright brothers; It was Richard Pearse of New Zealand a few months before in a more advanced flying machine of his own design & construction. On 31-3-1902 he flew about 350 yards, and on 11-5-1903 flew over 1,000 yards, out of ground effect & including several turns.
One of the heavy-weight versions of the
Boeing 777 twin jet considered had an extra large auxiliary power unit
(APU) in the tail, to give a bit more thrust for take-off.
(The APU is the jet-like noise you can hear at the rear of jet airliners on the ground. They are a small jet engine, and provide air pressure, electrics, and sometimes hydraulic power to the stationary aircraft when it's on the ground.)
The first patent for a turbojet as a powerplant for an aircraft was made by Sir Frank Whittle.
The first jet engine to ever run was made
by Professor Ernst Heinkel, in March 1937. It was the hydrogen fuelled
Heineken He S 2. The engine only ever ran on a test stand, and its
construction was overseen by Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain.
(Whittle's engine first ran on 12-4-1937, a couple of weeks later than the Heinkel engine)
The first jet powered aircraft to fly was the Heinkel He 178, on 27-8-1939, powered by a Heinkel He S 3B engine, which made about 450kg (1,000lbs) of thrust. The flight lasted six minutes, and the pilot was Erich Warsitz.
The first twin engined jet to fly was the Heinkel He 280, on 30-3-1941, powered by two Heinkel He S 8's, and lasted only three minutes due to concerns of the chance of the engines overheating.
The first four engined jet to fly was the Arado AR 234C, in April 1944. It was powered by four BMW 003 jet engines.
The first six engined jet aircraft to fly was the Junkers Ju 287 derivative, the Junkers EF 131. The aircraft was built in Dessau, Germany, and finished in late 1946. The factory had been taken over by occupying Soviet troops, and for some reason for its first flight it was disassembled and taken by train to Podbererez'ye, near Moscow. The date is not definite, but it was around late 1946. Each forward swept wing had a large pod, each containing three Jumo 004C engines.
The Heinkel factory was the first to use catapults to assist aircraft in taking off from ships.
The Heinkel factory invented the explosive and counter-sunk riveting methods.
The first ejection seat was made by Heinkel, for the He 280. It was pneumatically powered, and accelerated the pilot upwards at between 7 and 9 gees.
The first use of an ejection seat was made by pilot Schenk, on 13-1-1943. He required it's use when the He 280, which was powered by two Argus pulse-jets that required a high forward speed to start up, refused to separate from the tow aircraft due to the cable release mechanism icing up. As a precaution, Schenk ejected and landed safely.
The first aircraft to have variable sweep wings was the Messerschmitt Me P1101, though it never flew due to he end of the Second War War bring its construction to a halt. The wings, however, could not be moved in flight, only on the ground. Its design was later copied and improved on by Bell in the US, when they made the Bell X-5 experimental aircraft, which flew six years later on 20-6-1951.
The axial flow compressor, later used by the vast majority of all jet engines, was invented by Frenchman, Maxime Guillaume in 1921.
The ramjet engine was invented by Frenchman, René Lorin, in 1908. It's use was not realised for many decades.
The first afterburning jet engine was a modified Jumo 004E. It ran in mid 1945, and made 1000kg (2200lbs) thrust 'dry', and 1200kg (2650lbs) when afterburning.
The first by-pass jet engine (like the engines on modern large jet airliners) was to be the Heinkel He S 10 'dual cycle engine', in late 1939, but its development was halted in favour of the He S 011.
The Rolls-Royce RB-211 turbojet engine is a very common fitment to many modern airliners, such as the 747, 767, 757, DC-10, MD-11, etc. The designation 'RB' is obtained from 'Rolls Barnoldswick', which refers to the Rolls-Royce centre in north-west Yorkshire where the engine was developed.
The average twenty-year-old 747 has been pushed backwards from the 'gate' approximately 2,300km! Note that this would be roughly the same for most international airliners, with the higher cycle domestic airliners being up to four to six times more than that.
Some other WW2 facts -
- The Battle of Britain was a very close thing indeed. One of the reasons the Allied aircraft beat the enemy fighters was that a single ship load of high-octane fuel arrived from the US in England just at the height of the Battle. It was the only one to make it through, and so the Spitfires were able to run full boost on the temperamental engines, thus making an extra couple of hundred horsepower. That was just enough to make the difference in battle. So when you think that the petrol companies don't do anything for you, remember that a Esso saved the 'free' world at one point!
- The Luftwaffe had the excellent Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter/bomber. It was so fast that the Allied fighters couldn't catch it to shoot it down the handful that were cutting the B-17 & Lancaster's to pieces, but one pilot noticed that there was an airfield in Germany with over 200 of the 262's on the ground! So why weren't they airborne & fighting? The Allies had determined that if they bombed a critical ball-bearing factory then a major part of the German war effort would be ground to a halt. It was - The 262's were grounded because of the lack of ball-bearings for their turbo-jet engines. If the 200 extra 262's had been airborne, then the Luftwaffe would have easily wiped out most of the Allied bombers.
Every airliner in the world, and most planes, in fact, uses a piece of navigation equipment called DME, or Distance Measuring Equipment. This was invented in Australia in the 1950's.
As above, the ubiquitous 'black box' flight recorder was also invented in Australia, by David Warren of the Aeronautical research laboratories in 1958.
The first flight across the Pacific Ocean was made by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, from Oakland in California to Brisbane, Australia in 1928.
The first around-the-world passenger service by an airline was started by Qantas, in 1958.
Qantas stands for Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services.
Qantas is the world's second oldest airline, (est 1920) with only KLM being older.
Contrary to popular belief, Qantas has lost some passengers & aircraft in its long history; Passengers & hull losses inlcude - de Havilland DH-9C G-AUED 24 Mar 1927 - 3 died, de Havilland DH-86 VH-USG 15 Nov 1934 - 4 died, de Havilland DH-86 VH-USE 20 Feb 1942 - 9 died, Short S-23 (flying boat) VH-ADU 22 Apr 1943 - 13 died, Lockheed 18 Lodestar VH-CAB 26 Nov 1943 - 15 died, Short S-23 (flying boat) VH-ABB 11 Oct 1944 - 1 died, Lancastrian VH-EAS 07 April 1949 - 0 died, de Havilland Drover II VH-EBQ 16 Jul 1951 - 7 died, Lockheed L1049 VH-EAC 24 August 1960 - 0 died.