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Curtiss-Wright R-1820 Cyclone Radial Engine

Heavier Than Air Flight 1930

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The move from wooden to metal construction quickened pace in 1930. High wing monoplanes became increasingly common with smaller aircraft, although very large bombers and airliners were still mainly biplanes. The new contender, cantilever, low wing monoplanes kept knocking at the door and there was some success. Meanwhile, the Great Depression stifled good ideas among commercial airliners that might otherwise have done well. By contrast, sales of smaller utility aircraft and personal transport continued to grow, as affordable airplanes found...
De Havilland Gipsy III 4-cylinder Air-Cooled Piston Engine (Un-Inverted)

Heavier Than Air Flight 1929

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1929 was a year of mixed fortunes. There was a flurry of passenger airliner crashes in the midst of rapidly increasing demand. A connection could be argued with a temptation to cut corners in a year of distance and speed records. Perhaps the real winners were a new generation of high wing monoplanes, though. Meanwhile, major protagonists in a future World War II upped the ante with larger, faster and more sophisticated warplanes. Germany, France and Great Britain were major...
Berryloid Pigmented Dope Advertisement Showing Command-Aire 5C3

Heavier Than Air Flight 1928

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1928 was a lively year for aviation, with some exciting developments and also a few quirky innovations. The Soviet Union’s first five year plan delivered fighters and light bombers that sold in thousands down the years. While the United States continued producing small commercial biplanes and maintaining its military advantage. Britain, on the other hand, focused more on maintaining control over its far-flung empire with technology that sometimes seemed to stand still. But France’s luxurious airliners were what really seized...
Preliminary Study Into Nuclear Powered Airships

The 1954 American NUCLEAR Powered Airship Program

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The American Nuclear Powered Airship Program President Dwight Eisenhower addressed the United Nations on December 8, 1953, when he argued the need to stop nuclear weapon proliferation. He hoped to see atoms used for peace, although his dream went largely unfulfilled. Nuclear power for flight had intrigued the U.S. throughout the Cold War. It would help maintain a round-the-clock defensive presence, armed with powerful nuclear weapons in case the Soviet Union threatened imminent attack. F.W. Locke Jr investigated the feasibility of using...
Sky Kitten Demonstrator Flies at Cardington (2006)

Airships of the 21st Century Take A Fresh Breath

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Airships had largely moved on from bulk passenger transport, and long-range military surveillance by the dawn of the 21st century. Fast jet planes and orbital satellites dictated new roles for the largest cargo vessels we may ever see. Their role would shift to heavy lifting, and large cargoes to remote places. They would be able to remain aloft for weeks, and this would attract new investors. The world’s oldest aircraft technology would gradually become less dependent on the human factor....
Lockheed Vega 5B Cockpit, Amelia Earhart

Heavier Than Air Flight 1927

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Aircraft design took a sudden, almost unprecedented step forward in 1927. Sure, the customary procession of faster, more deadly military aircraft continued. But something else was in the air. The challenge of crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and traveling in luxury airliners to the four corners of the world beckoned. Of course, this was only in its infancy, although  Fokker  and Farman were getting closer to daring to do it. Meanwhile Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart were a step ahead. They...
Armstrong Siddeley Two-Row Radial Engine (circa 1927)

Heavier Than Air Flight 1926

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Large passenger aircraft continued to make inroads into production schedules, after Deutscher Aero Lloyd merged with Junkers Luftverkehr to create Luft Hansa. New generation airliners boasted more spacious seats, in-flight meals, and even night beds. But others were more utilitarian, with passenger budgets in mind. The U.S. Air Force learned to entertain the public with higher speeds, and barnstorming events. Junkers continued to take the lead with metal air frames and cladding, although other nations gradually began following the example...
Areas of the World Covered by Commercial Aviation in 1925

Heavier Than Air Flight 1925

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There were many hopeful designs that never made it to these pages because they were not sufficiently successful (if at all) to make lasting contributions.  Simulation technology was primitive. Aviation was sometimeas a semi hit-and-miss-affair despite the accumulation of knowledge. JANUARY 1925 Czechoslovak Aero A.11 Light Bomber / Reconnaissance Biplane The Aero A.11 was a light bomber and reconnaissance biplane that formed the basis for several future military developments. Around 250 were made after it first flew in 1925. Some were still...
Walter Five-Cylinder, Air-Cooled, Radial Engine

Heavier Than Air Flight 1924

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The aviation industry moved into a more relaxed phase in 1924. The main manufacturers seemed comfortable supplying their military or commercial niches, or both. There was a definite uptick in interest in passenger travel, especially in larger more luxurious aircraft. The main protagonists from World War 1, Germany, France, United Kingdom and United States continued to hold the technical lead. However, other players were knocking on doors, as the focus finally began to shift from cumbersome, wooden biplanes to sleeker, increasingly...
Stern view of Akagi Carrier with Mitsubishi B1M and B2M bombers (1934)

Heavier Than Air Flight 1923

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The First World War to-end-all-wars continued to fail to live up to its name in 1923. The old animosities continued. The United States and Britain kept replenishing their reserves, while Germany built military aircraft in surrogate countries, and Japan stretched its naval aircraft wings. But there were lighter moments too, as air passenger travel literally began to take off, mainly in small airplanes but with a few larger, luxurious aircraft. The dream to fly high in the sky with the...

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