Introduction: Aviation a Brief History – Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, the Wright Brothers
Aviation, a Brief History: Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, the Wright Brothers…is a quick look at a few players in the industry and what their roles were. Air flight is one invention that transformed the world because it changed the way we travel. It opened up transatlantic travel and made it more accessible to all.
If you are looking to learn about aviation, you will see it through the eyes of Amelia Earhart, Otto Lilienthal, Charles Lindbergh, Samuel Pierpont Langley, the Wright Brothers, and their book, The Early History of the Airplane (my book review/summary), which is their perspective.
The interesting thing about The Early History of the Airplane is that it’s not the technical aspects of air flight that the brothers write about, but the framework it offers on how to approach any project to break it into bite-sized portions.
This gives you a brief history of aviation through the eyes of five key people. Before you discount it, I ask you to consider reading the synopsis about each person. Today, more than ever, it’s important for you to have both broad and deep knowledge – broad knowledge on many subjects, and deep knowledge in a few. That’s one of the ways you become creative because you have more diverse information to draw on.
A strong advocate for women, Amelia Earhart had a lot of firsts in her life, when it came to flying. She wrote magazine articles on her flights which popularized commercial aviation. In 1928, publisher George Palmer Putman of Putman and Sons, who had just published Charles Lindberg’s story of his 1927 solo transatlantic flight, selected Earhart because of her flying experience, to fly with pilot Wilmer Stulz and mechanic Louis Gordon to cross the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Wales.
Though she was not the pilot of the flight, Earhart received much publicity because she was the first woman to fly the Atlantic. As president of The Ninety Nines, Inc, a flying organization for women, Earhart found jobs for female pilots, petitioned the NAA (National Aeronautic Association) to establish separate categories for women pilot.
Otto Lilienthal and his brother Gustav developed an interest in flying. When Lilienthal was a lad, he and Gustav watched birds in flight to understand the mechanisms of flying. Otto Lilienthal is the King of Gliders. A mechanical engineer by profession, Lilienthal was the first in history to design and successfully fly gliders. Though Lilienthal studied engineering, aerospace studies remained his hobby and passion. In 1867, while he was still studying engineering, Lilienthal started to experiment with aerodynamics and human flight. In his short life of 48 years, Otto Lilienthal contributed significantly to piloted flight and was an inspiration to the Wright Brothers.
Charles Lindbergh left his studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin to study flying in Lincoln, Nebraska from 1920 to 1922 and made his first solo flight in 1923. Flying was in Lindbergh’s blood, it was his passion. Charles Lindbergh was the first aviator to make a non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. By flying across the Atlantic Ocean, Lindbergh had now opened up a world of possibilities for airplanes and traveling. He flew across the US and the world advocating for commercial flights and became technical adviser to many airlines.
Using his knowledge of aerodynamics, Samuel Pierpont Langley, an American scientist and aviator pioneer, built a number of elastic-powered models. The aircraft did not fly because the launching apparatus failed. In 1896, Langley successfully flew a 14-foot steam-powered aircraft model for 3,000 feet over the Potomac River. He repeated his experiment, and this time, the model flew 4,200 feet. Two years later, the US War Department awarded Langley a grant for $50,000 to continue his experiments to achieve piloted flights. The development of flight followed the trajectory of the Wright Brothers and not Langley.
The Wright Brothers are credited for inventing the airplane, but many had paved the way for them. They knew about Otto Lilienthal’s stellar work, but it wasn’t until his death in 1896 that they became interested in his glider flight experiments. The Wright Brothers reviewed the work that had already been done in the aviation field. They concluded that earlier attempts at flying failed because plans for the early plane required the pilot to manoeuvre his body to control the plane. Armed with this newfound knowledge, the Wright Brothers flew double-winged kites and gliders to gain experience and test the data they had. The brothers built a third glider and incorporated all the new information from their experiments.
These profiles are meant to give you broad knowledge on my topics. Think of them as helping you to acquire your Master of Practical Knowledge to sound knowledgeable at cocktail parties and other events.
To get the most from each profile, while you are reading it, answer the following questions:
- Are their similarities between the person profiled and yourself?
- What are your five takeaways from the profile?
- When you think of the person profiled, what thoughts immediately come to mind?
- In what ways can you use the information in your work and life?
- Look at the process you use to get your job done, think of ways to improve the process and make it more efficient. Is there a way to eliminate a step or combine steps? Also, is there a way to do your work in a more cost-efficient manner?
- After reading the profile, what is one concrete action you can take?
The Early History of the AirplaneAircraft: The Definitive Visual HistoryAirplanes of the Second World War Coloring Book (Dover History Coloring Book)How We Invented the Airplane: An Illustrated History (Dover Transportation)You Could Fly an Airplane: Planning to be a Pilot for Kids – How Airplanes Work – Children’s Aeronautics & Astronautics BooksThe Devil Dragon Pilot: A Ford Stevens Military-Aviation Thriller (Volume 1)Flight: The Complete HistoryHigher: 100 Years of BoeingAirplane, ThePlanes: A Complete HistoryThe Wright Brothers for Kids: How They Invented the Airplane, 21 Activities Exploring the Science and History of Flight (For Kids series)