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Men & Women In Aviation - Level 1

Outstanding Men & Women In Aviation

Leonardo da Vinci was known for his attempts to design a mechanical device using arms and legs which activated flapping wings through a system of pulleys and levers. This machine was called an ornithopter which means "flapping wings."

Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier designed the first hot air balloon. Hot air is lighter than the surrounding colder air and causes the balloon to rise. Hot air ballooning was slightly dangerous because the brazier which maintained the supply of hot air in flight could also cause the fabric to catch fire.

Sir George Cayley was concerned with a form of flight which could break man free from the limitations of lighter-than-air craft. He realized man had held the key when flying a kite. A kite mounted on a stick with a movable tail was a heavier-than-air craft, in fact, a glider. The basic principles upon which modern aeronautics is founded were formulated by George Cayley. Cayley's vehicles were launched by ramp because the internal combustion engine had not yet been invented. Cayley is known as the "Father of Modern Aviation."

Wilbur and Orville Wright - With the availability of the internal combustion engine the Wright Brothers designed a control system which meant for the first time that lift, power, and control were combined to enable the first controlled and sustained flight. The Wright Brothers made several short flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903.

The Wright Brothers

Felix du Temple de la Croix was the first person to fly a powered airplane. His flight, however, was not sustained or controlled.

Otto Lilienthal was one of the world's greatest exponents of gliding.

Otto Lilienthal

Glen Curtiss was known for his pioneering in water-based aircraft.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin - The Zeppelin Company was credited with developing the first airliner. The airship was a dirigible and looked like an elongated balloon. It provided air service between Europe and America in the early 1900's.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin

Charles Lindbergh was best known for accomplishing the first flight from New York to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis. He covered the distance of 3,610 miles in 33 1/2 hours. This was the first solo, non-stop transatlantic flight.

Charles & Anne Lindbergh

Amelia Earhart was the greatest American woman pilot in the 1930's. She flew solo across the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland. She was the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California and from Mexico City to New Jersey. In 1937 she set out for an around-the-world flight. In New Guinea her radios failed but she continued out across the Pacific Ocean and was never seen again.

Amelia Earhart

Olive Ann Beech is known as the First Lady of Aviation. Co-founder of Beech Aircraft Corporation, with her husband Walter H. Beech in 1932, she now serves as Chairman Emeritus and Director of diversified Beech Aircraft Corporation, producer of the internationally known Beechcraft airplanes, military aircraft and target missiles. Beechcraft is now a Raytheon Company.

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Updated: March 12, 2004