Sunday, August 6, 2017
THE EVOLUTION OF FLIGHT
THE EVOLUTION OF FLIGHT - Around the year 1500, Leonardo da Vinci produced sketches, mostly ornithopters, of flying machines and bird flight. The man-powered helical airscrew might have been able to lift off the ground. Unfortunately the engine wasn’t available at that time to produce a functioning helicopter. Prior to 1700, kite jumping and tower jumping were the earliest forms of human flight. The first manned hot air balloon was piloted in 1783 by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier on the order of King Louis XVI. The design consisted of a fire in an iron basket under a balloon neck, it sustained for 25 minutes at a distance of 5 miles. Gas balloons, blimps, dirigibles and zeppelins came later - relying on the tenants of the original design. Sir George Cayley developed a flying machine concept in 1799, actually built a glider in 1849, which carried a boy on a short flight. He correctly predicted a flying machine wasn’t possible without a powerful engine. After years of experimentation, the Wright brothers made their first flight in 1903 at Kitty Hawk. Orville and Wilbur’s manned/ powered flight measured 120 feet in length and lasted 12 seconds. Biplanes, monoplanes, jets and bombers succeeded one after the other - each one improving on previous designs. The world’s first practical helicopter took flight in 1939, invented by Igor Sikorsky, it was based on a single blade design still in use today. The Soviet Union launched the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin on the Vostok 1, for a single orbit around Earth in 1961. With the Apollo 11 spaceflight in 1969, the United States landed Charles Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. They spent 2 hours on the surface and collected rocks to bring back to Earth. NASA is planning a human surface expedition to Mars slated for mid-2030. The crew will explore the Martian surface for a year, 6 decades after the first human stood on another celestial body. And the next step into our solar system? The Milky Way … and beyond.