When Was Aviation First Invented?

From the very first hot air balloon to modern commercial airlines, the aviation industry has gone through many great advancements since its emergence. To better understand the invention of aviation, we will first take a look back at several of the most important developments in engineered flight. The first rendition of man-made flight came in the 5th century with the invention of the kite in China. Then in the 15th century, Leonardo Da Vinci created the first drafts for a rational aircraft in his paintings. In later years, several more sketches and models were made, including a theory by Francisco Terzi, the father of aeronautics, that showed the possibility of flight in lighter-than-air aircraft made of copper foil cylinders. Then, following the discovery of hydrogen in the 17th century, the first hydrogen balloons were created, leading up to the invention and high popularity of hot air balloons from 1783 to the late 18th century. This ultimately led to the airship in the late 1800s.

Despite the advancements of lighter-than-air aircraft, their existence was ultimately short-lived. In 1869, Samuel Pierpoint Langley launched the first unmanned heavier-than-air aircraft on a successful flight. Langley was later funded by the US government to create a manned version for the purposes of spying on the enemy. However, his design was not successful. It wasn’t until December 17th, 1903 that the Wright Brother built and launched the first crewed heavier-than-air flight. This is universally recognized as the date that launched modern aviation. On that day, they made a total of four flights in their simple aircraft.

Continuing the momentum of the US’s request to Langley, aircraft became militarized as soon as they were invented. Italy was the first country to use aircraft for military purposes, employing airships and monoplanes for bombing and transportation during the Turkish-Italian War in Libya. Aircraft were first used in active combat on a large scale in World War I, during which, France became the leading manufacturer of aircraft producing over 68,000 airplanes between 1914 and 1918. By World War II, nearly all countries increased their production of aircraft and accompanying flight technology. Moreover, the later invention of radar technology led to more precise, coordinated, and controlled aircraft deployment. The funding and manpower devoted to aircraft engineering in the war effort made for the adoption of civil aviation and a lineup of advancements for comfort and accessibility. By the end of the Second World War, there were airports or landing strips in many cities and towns, and many military aircraft were repurposed as personal or airliner planes.

Modern aviation has come a long way since the end of WWII with digital technology generating massive advancements in the aviation industry. Computer-aided design and manufacturing software in the 1970s made for the development of better aircraft designs. Modern aircraft also come equipped with digital systems, so there is no longer need for most analog and mechanical instruments. One example of this technology is the adoption of computer-based electronic displays. The introduction of composite materials like the one used for building Boeing 787 Dreamliner has also made a significant impact, cutting down on the weight of aircraft and leading to improved fuel efficiency.

In conclusion, aviation has gone through many significant advancements over the span of human history. Beginning with early notions about what could be possible, early inventors paved the way for a lasting future in flight. Purchasing Sphere is a leading supplier of parts within the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. Browse the catalog of available parts on our website or send an Instant Request for Quote form today to receive a competitive quote tailored to your needs in just 15 minutes or less!


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