From Kitty Hawk to The Heavens: Advances in Aircraft Over Time

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Over the last century, airplane design has progressed rapidly from the Wright Flyer demonstration in 1903 to the launch of SpaceShipOne, a privately funded spaceplane, a century later. This rapid progress has often been helped along with large government funding, as was the case with NASA in the United States. But there have also been innovations in the commercial sector, such as the development of the Concorde supersonic jet. The list of accomplishments in the area of aeronautics is long. Just a few years after the Wright brothers’ successful flight in North Carolina, a French inventor Louis Blériot crossed the English Channel in his Blériot XI monoplane. In 1918, the US Post Office inaugurated its airmail service; in 1926, the first liquid-fueled rocket was invented by Robert Goddard; and in 1939 the first practical helicopter took off. During World War II, airplane design advanced by leaps and bounds, creating the technology and infrastructure that would launch the world into a true air age and later a space age. Review the following resources. As you do, pay attention to advancements in aeronautics over time. Keep track of how each new development paved the way for the next innovation. This preparation will help you complete the worksheet included in the Support Materials.

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