Student Article / Science

Aviation: Wings of Fire

Aviation:  Wings of Fire

Assistant Editor

04 Jan, 2019

Humans have always wished to fly and since times immemorial stories of flying super heroes, legends, arts and mythological characters have fascinated humans all around the globe described through different tales and characters. The desire to be free from earth's gravitational pull, to soar the skies freely has captured the minds of humans over the ages. 

The Indian Mythological stories are rife with tales of flying. These mythological tales tell stories of flying chariots or Vimana. Some of these stories defy rational explanations like when Arjun travelled in a flying chariot across the Himalayas into the land of the Devas. Hanuman flew over the Ocean to Lanka to find Sita, as described in the Ramayana. The Greek mythology has the legends of Daedalus and Icarus,they were father and son who created wings combining feathers and wax, however, their story of flight ended in tragedy as Icarus flew too close to the sun, his  wings melted and he plummeted out of the sky fell into the sea and drowned. 

The earliest uses of the kites were by the Chinese almost 2,800 years ago. The kite is said to be invented by the Chinese Philosophers Mozi and Lu Ban. The Chinese used the kites for several purpose like measuring distance, wind testing, signaling, communication especially by the military and also lifting men. The Chinese also used small hot air balloons for signaling from as early as the 3rd Century B.C.

Leonardo da Vinci was first one who made real studies about the mechanisms of flight in the 1480's. he had over 100 drawings that had detailed illustrations on bird and the mechanical flight. His Ornithopter flying machine unfortunately never saw the light of the day. Leonardo da Vinci wanted to show man how one could fly, however the modern day helicopter is based on the concept of Leonardo da Vinci as his design and drawings were studied by the 19th century pioneers of aviation.

In 1783 two Brothers, Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier worked their way to the flight of the First Hot Air Balloon. The attached a silk bag to a basket and used smoke from a fire to blow into the silk bag, once the balloon filled up with hot air the balloon became lighter than air and started to fly. The first passengers of the colorful Hot Air Balloon were a sheep, rooster and a duck. The balloon climbed to a height of above 6,000 feet and travelled more than a mile. After the successful launch the two brothers started sending men up in their Hot Air Balloons. They sent their first manned hot air balloon on the 21st of November, 1783 and the passengers to that historical flight were Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent. 

It was easy to think about building a ship that was lighter than air and could fly, however the challenge was to build a ship with materials that were way heavier than air and yet make it fly. Many during the initial experiments maintained that this could not be achieved. People were using canvas and wood to make gliders, but attaching a powered machine for sustaining the flight for certain duration presented challenges. In 1903, the American brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully made the heavier than air flight which was powered for sustained flight and was a manned flight. It was the first real airplane called the "Wright Flyer" made of the technology called wing-warping which allowed the air craft to be manuevered.It travelled one hundred twenty feet in twelve seconds. The brothers took turns to fly the aircraft and the fourth and the last of the flight on that historical day covered 850 feet in 59 seconds. However, the flyer was very unstable and hard to control. The Wright brothers worked on their flyer for two more years correcting and perfecting their designs and finally they were able to fly for 39 minutes and for about 24 miles of circles around Huffman Prairie on the 5th of October, 1905. Leon Delagrange was the first flight passenger to fly with French pilot Henri Farman from a meadow on the outskirts of Paris in 1908.The first scheduled air service began in Florida on the 1st of January, 1914. Glen Curtiss had worked on a plane that could take off and land on water, this idea was harnessed by an auto parts mo maker Thomas Benoist who decided to build a flying boat or a sea plane for a service across Tampa Bay called the "St.Petersburg-Tampa-Air Boat line", and his first passenger was ex-St Petersburg Mayor A.C. Pheil. They were able to make the 18-mile trip in 23 minutes which took two hours by boat. However, one person could be accommodated and was charged $5 for one way fare. With World War I the Aviation industry made significant development. More powerful engines were built; increased speed and larger aircrafts were introduced. However, war had a negative impact on commercial aviation as most of the flights designed then were focused on building military aircrafts.

The first modern Airliners came after 1930s. The Boeing 247 is what is considered the first modern passenger airliner, which was unveiled in 1933.Meanwhile; radio and the technological development of the radar also boosted the growth of the aviation industry. The developments of Jets post War made way for high speed flights to be followed by supersonics in the coming years. 

Today we cannot imagine our lives without aviation. From the time when flights were a rich man’s mode of transport we have now reached that phase were low cost flight affordable to every one is the norm.

A career in Aviation is a highly paid job. There are several options that one can choose from not necessarily one has to be a pilot. The top most paying aviation jobs are;

1. Director of Aerospace Program Management.

2. Airline Pilot, Copilot or Flight Engineer.

3. Aerospace Project Engineer.

4. Aircraft Maintenance Manager.

5. Aircraft Maintenance Manager.

6. Air Traffic Controller.

7. Air Traffic Controller.

8. Air Traffic Controller.

To join the Aviation Industry or to be a Pilot one has to pass 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics, should be within 18 to 30 years of age and minimum height of 5 feet. Most importantly eyesight of 6/6 which is perfect vision is a must.

There are many facets of the Aviation Industry and many courses to pursue. Several colleges across the country offer courses on different vertical s of the aviation industry. 

The best would be to take advice from the Career counselors and get a sound idea about the courses. There are several Career Counselors that one can go to including Online Career Counseling as well. 

Apart from these there are many Career Guide Services available online and one can go through those websites to get a good understanding of the Course. Many Career seminars also are held to help students select the course most suitable for them. The counseling also helps students understand their strengths and weaknesses and can work accordingly to better themselves.

One can log on to the links listed below which will provide one with a good understanding of the courses available and how to go about cracking the exam:

Career Guide

Future Bright Programs

By: Madhuchanda Saxena