Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Lockheed Vega 5B Cockpit, Amelia Earhart

Heavier Than Air Flight 1927

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

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...
Preliminary Study Into Nuclear Powered Airships

The 1954 American NUCLEAR Powered Airship Program

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...
Areas of the World Covered by Commercial Aviation in 1925

Heavier Than Air Flight 1925

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

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

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...
Bristol Jupiter VII Engine on Display at the Shuttleworth Collection

Heavier Than Air Flight 1922 Moving Forward

1922 continued the uptick in new aircraft design, and construction. Better fighters and bombers were in demand for colonial wars, while seaplanes lined up for innovative aircraft carriers launching from ship yards. Several innovative fast racing aircraft kept the bar above 200 mph. While passenger aircraft, large and small continued to tempt the new taste for passenger flight. The overall trend showed the industry had shrugged off the anything-goes culture of World War 1. Military, civilian and private customers were more...
The Curtis Record-Breaking D-12 Engine

Heavier Than Air Flight 1921 Moving Forward

Aircraft manufacture ticked up in 1921. However, this time the focus was more on military aircraft required for local conflicts, and maintaining self-defense capability.  The United States military developed an interest in winning competitions, and broke the 200-mph barrier. Japan entered the arena as it manufactured its own airplanes for aircraft carriers. Civilian air transport continued to test its wings by developing local routes, although it focussed on small aircraft while dirigibles did the heavy lifting.  JANUARY 1921 British aircraft carrier HMS Argus...
Blackburn Company Advertisement Announcing the Blackburn Dart

Heavier Than Air Flight 1920 A Time for Consolidation

1920 was a year for consolidation, after rapid progress in World War 1. Hostilities had taken fixed wing aircraft to new heights and top speeds. Civilians were attracted to their potential for carrying passengers and freight on a commercial basis when hostilities ended. However the supply of war surplus airplanes dampened demand for new models. But the military were restless because they wanted to retain air superiority in their domains. Aircraft manufacturers were on the back foot, because they had to...
Blériot-SPAD S.27 Ready for Action

Heavier Than Air Flight 1919 New Beginnings

The world breathed easier as peace began to return to the sky. Millions of young people returned home with new life skills, keen to resume their lives over again. There was a huge surplus of aircraft and pilots. These came together to create a world where they could fly almost as free as birds, and establish new records of personal endurance. Air passenger and freight services began to pick up, taking advantage of an oversupply of aircraft, and wartime aviators thirsting...

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