The birds had been flying for millions of years whereas “The metal birds” – the airplanes – have been flying only since the early 20th century.
Before there were airplanes humans tried to fly but they did not know how to. After many years of trying they were able to fly kites in the air. And after flying kites for many years they came up with the idea of making kites huge enough to carry people in the air. They experimented and failed but they kept on trying. Finally two brothers named “The Wright Brothers” managed to get it right :), Orville and Wilbur, were the first ones to create the first successful flying machine. This plane took its first flight of 12 seconds on December 17, 1903.
Whoa! Humans flew for the first time just under 110 years ago!
But from that day onwards there was no stopping the mankind. The inventors kept designing new kinds of planes, made mistakes here and there but importantly kept learning from them, kept pushing forward into making better and better airplanes.
The airplanes now are big and strong and look like birds of metal, and fly much faster and higher than the birds.
Now we have gliders, passenger planes, helicopters and jets and space shuttles. Some of these jets can travel even faster than sound (Supersonic jets).
Here are some interesting facts about the kinds of airplanes that we have now.
- Gliders – are also known as sailplanes. Older gliders did not have engines on them, they were just pushed off a hill or cliff by the pilot and allowed to sail freely in the air. In some places where Gliding Station did not have a high cliff to jump off – the gliders use an external motor engine to take off – sometimes a car or another airplane could pull the glider to give it a start. Most modern gliders now have a motor to help them in taking off and in extending the gliding-time.
- Passenger Airplanes – These airliners are mostly used for carrying passengers from one place to another. One of the largest passenger airplane is the Boeing 747-400 and it can hold 524 passengers, not counting the crew. The new AirBus A380 is able to accommodate even a higher number of passengers, as much as 840.
- Helicopters – A helicopter or a chopper is a special kind because of its rotor that helps it to lift itself without needing a runway.
- Jets and Fighter planes – When there is a need for speed, fighter jets come to mind. These are mostly used by the military – that is the Air Force employed by various countries of this world. Modern jet fighters commonly fly at speeds higher than 1,000 miles per hour and up to about 1,600 miles per hour.
- Space Shuttles – If you need to explore the outer space you need to book a ticket on the space shuttle! It looks like something between an airplane and a rocket.
- And lastly of course, Paper planes – These are just for playing games and having some fun at home. A Japanese engineer set a record in 2009 by flying a paper plane that he could keep aloft for 27.9 seconds. Incidentally this engineer is also the chairman of the Japanese Origami Airplane Association.