It has been an ever-lasting dream for the people to be able to fly. There is a Greek legend that tells the story of Icarus whose father made a pair of wings out of wax for his son but he got too close to the sun, the wings melted and he fell in the sea. Even in ancient times people were fascinated by flying and wanted to invent a way to soar in the sky. Many gave building a plane a try but it was not until 1903 that the brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew their plane. The first flight lasted only 12 seconds but it was just the beginning. For the following few years they kept on developing and improving the idea of controlled flying. But what is actually an airplane and how does it work?
An airplane is an aircraft with wings that uses the power from engines or propellers so it is able to fly. The airplanes give us the opportunity to cover enormous distances for a period of time much shorter than if we travel by car, train or even ferry. Generally, a plane can carry not only people but also cargo. There are a couple of very famous planes. Everybody has heard of Boeing 747 – the biggest passenger airplane for more than 30 years. It normally carries 416 passengers but it can accommodate up to 660 people in an one-class configuration. But nowadays the largest airplane is the Airbus A380 which can carry up to 853 passengers in some of its modifications! It is so large that it can not land on all airports – it needs a 3-km long runway to get sufficient speed for takeoff and it is much wider that the other airplanes. One very important airplane is Air Force One – the plane in which the President of the United States is flying. It is a modified 747s that can serve as a command center in the air. It is fully equipped with phone and Internet systems and it has 19 TV sets which enable the President and his administration to perform their duties when flying and even at time of war. If we are talking about airplanes, there is always a special one that comes up – Concorde. It is one of the two supersonic airplanes used in commercial aviation. Although it was operational for only 27 years and there were only 20 planes manufactured by the joint efforts of France and the UK, it was truly a magnificent means of transportation. It was able to fly from Paris to New York in 3,5 hours which is more than half the time conventional planes need. Due to its unusual shape it could carry only around 100 passengers but a cruise speed of 2158 km/h is definitely worth mentioning.
It is more than sure that we have walked – or more exactly flown – a long way from the first kite-like flying machines to the SpaceShipOne, the spaceplane that can take us on a flight in space. But one can not imagine modern life without travelling by or using airplanes altogether. And they will continue to evolve so they will become even faster, more dependable and affordable in the future!
AIR FORCE ONE
ANTONOV CARGO AIRCRAFT
MILITARY TRANSPORT AIRCRAFTT
SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR
soar –to fly, hover
cargo –shipment, goods, commodities
supersonic – faster than the speed of sound
kite –a light frame covered with paper that is flown in the air at the end of a long string