Showing posts with label History of Flight. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History of Flight. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The History of Bush Flying

Note the tires. Eklutna Lake is a popular recreational lake in Chugach State Park in South-Central Alaska -
Photo: Wikimedia
Remember pilots pictured with silk scarves fluttering in the wind, flying their vintage airplanes on adventures to dangerous corners of the world, saving people? “Busy flying” might be legendary in its illustration, but it is very much alive and true in its representation.

One of the last visages of pre-modern aviation, bush flyers are a precious commodity in Canada, Australia, Alaska and the jungles of South America and Africa, providing isolated communities with supplies of food and medicine, and communication with the outside world. Not only do their planes have to be adaptable to the tough and changing terrains and seasons in each country through periodic mechanical changes, bush pilots have to brave the same harsh elements, lack of work safety quotient and uncertain financial rewards.

The challenging life of a bush pilot was perhaps best summed up by C.H. “Punch” Dickins, a veteran Canadian bush pilot, as, “a pilot and mechanic, who is ready and willing to take any kind of a load to any destination, on or off the map, within the limits of their aircraft, and the financial resources of the customer.” 

Bush flying became a popular post-war option for the bravest and thrill-seeking veteran American and Canadian military pilots as they sought an income from their technical abilities. However, only those who could handle and maintain their aircrafts would become fixtures on the bush flying circuit, despite the relatively low barrier to entry in obtaining low-cost aircrafts for use like the Curtiss JN-4 Jennys and HS-2L flying boats. Imagine a situation where a bush pilot was to be stranded in uninhabited regions such as the Arctic tundra or empty desert with its relentless heat. Plane repair abilities would be of life-saving importance and many modern bush flights include flight engineers.

In October 1920, a fur buyer requested the Canadian Aircraft in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to fly him home to The Pas, in one of the first documented paid bush flight. The journey included harrowing flights over swirling lakes, thick jungle bushes and deep swamps and bogs, before becoming the first plane to touch the ground on the final destination.

This opened up the possibilities of exploring uncharted global territories such as the Arctic regions. It also presented greater markets for bush pilots, including oil exploration in the Arctic Circle, mine claims, forest fire patrols, timberland, and waterway aerial mapping. Bush flying extended the reach of airmail service to isolated regions and provided medical transport for the same workers and hunters.




These developments called for better and more reliable aircrafts for bush flying, in order to push the commercial viability of bush flying. The result was the 1926 creation of the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, of a markedly improved and safer single-seat high-cabin monoplane known as the German Fokker Universal. The steady plane with strong wooden wings and a tough steel tube fuselage consisted of a revolutionary shock absorber that allowed landing on uneven terrains and simultaneous floating or skiing capabilities. On a plane driven by the Pratt & Whitney radial engine, a bush pilot would fly in an open cockpit with passengers or cargo stored in cabins built under the aircraft’s wings.

From 1926 to 1931, over half of the 44 Fokker Universals made in the U.S. were used by bush pilots, preceding wide-spread usage by U.S., Canadian and foreign airlines.

November 12, 1935, witnessed the first flight of the reliable Noorduyn Norseman from Canada, created specifically for bush flying. The aircraft facilitated long-distance flights and delivery of fuel to isolated regions with cargo room designed to accommodate an industry standard 45-gallon fuel drum and up to ten passengers. Convenience was also a key feature with pilots having ease of cockpit entry and exit without having to climb over cargo. To date, many of the 900 manufactured Noorduyn Norseman are still being flown.

Today, using aircrafts such as the Beech Staggerwings and Bonanzas and even helicopters, bush flying now includes flying big game hunters, nature photographers, and archaeologists to exotic locations, on top of the now common flights to remote settlements for supply deliveries. The sturdy and versatile de Havilland Beaver is a huge favorite of bush pilots, with its adaptability in skis, floats and wheels usage.



The dangers that bush pilots brave have made them a no-no for insurance companies. However, it is the same dangers that so attract bush pilots to take up the challenge of venturing into the unknown. In bush flying, what you do not know may kill you, but what you may find certainly enriches and brings excitement to your life.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Flight efforts during the 19th and 20th centuries

Wilbur Wright in seinem Flieger mit Fluggast Ernest Zeus - Photo: Wikimedia
The first person to plan and build a practical manned glider that can fly over long distances is a German engineer named Otto Lilienthal.  Studying aerodynamics, on 1891 he concentrated his efforts on building a glider that can fly.

Otto Lilienthal was captivated by the thought that one day there would be manned flying machines.  On 1889, he published a book on aerodynamics.  This book was conceptualized from his studies of birds in flight.  The Wright Brothers, later on, referred to this book to build their successful aircraft. 

Otto Lilienthal died tragically in a plane crash.  Strong winds made him lose control of the craft causing it to crash back to earth.  This happened after his 2,500th flight.

Another milestone in flight history is on 1891 when the aerodrome flew to nearly a mile after exhausting its fuel.  The aerodrome’s inventor is Samuel Langley.  He is a physicist and astronomer; he recognized that power was needed in man’s quest for flight. This was his greatest contribution to flight, putting up a power plant to a glider.  His experiments with whirling arms and steam-powered engine resulted in a plane model he called aerodrome.

Langley received a grant of $50,000, which was purposely given for creating a full-sized aerodrome.  This plane crashed because it was too heavy.  Langley gave up his dreams of flight because of this disappointment.  Langley was a director of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C.

On 1894, Engineer Octave Chanute invented the Herring - Chanute biplane.  The biplane the Wright brothers built was based on this aircraft.   Inspired by Otto Lilienthal, inventing airplanes became Octave Chanute’s hobby.

Chanute collected all technical information about aviation accomplishments and its pioneers all over the world.  This information was made into a book entitled “Progress in Flying Machines,” this was published in 1894.  Many experiments of the Wright Brothers were based on this book.  Chanute even came to know the Wright Brothers and encouraged their progress.




Orville and Wilbur Wright were standing on the shoulders of the aviation pioneers.  They spent a few years studying the pioneers' work and development with regards flight.  They read books and other materials written on the topic.  Next was challenging their theories on balloons and kites.  They learned relationships of wind with surface and flight.  Experiments followed using different shapes for gliders and how to control their flight.

To test the different wing shapes and tails it was placed inside a wind tunnel.  Tests were also done in the North Carolina Outer Banks dunes; this is where they discovered the most promising glider shape.  When this happened, they focused their attention on designing an engine and mechanism to launch and put the glider to fly.

On December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, the “Flyer” was recorded the first heavier-than-air flight plane and Orville Wright as the first man to fly the plane.  It launched from ground level and flew all the way to the north of Big Kill Devil Hill in twelve seconds, covering a distance of one hundred twenty feet.  The Flyer totaled six hundred and five pounds.

Dreams of human flight now came true.  Development of more advanced airplanes was seen during the next century.  These planes were developed for various purposes like transporting people, cargo, the military, and their weapons.



All the advances in aviation in the 20th century were based on this first flight at Kitty Hawk according to Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The First MILITARY FLYER

Photo: Wikimedia

Wilbur Wright is a hero after his successful flight to France, August of 1908. The French Parliament and the Aero Club of France, the brothers awarded medals in their honor. Wilbur broke several distances, altitude and duration records before the end of that year. Wilbur allowed more than 40 passengers in altitude during that time; an old friend, prospective business leads, a young boy, and the very first female airplane passenger, Ms. Hart Berg, wife of dealmaker who The Wrights had put in contact with the government of France.

However, he resumed flights very carefully. He refused to accept any challenge to the author of the Daily Mail of London to fly across the English Channel. Instead, he stayed aloft for the record of two hours and18 minutes, 33 seconds on Dec. 31st, an adjustment to end a wonderful year. In total, he had created nine records before January 2, 1909. 

On 12 January 1909, Katharine, Wilbur’s sister, and Orville, who was leaning on his two canes because of injuries from a crash at Ft. Myer the previous year, came to France. The two brothers and their sister Katharine met with King Alfonso from Spain, King Victor Emmanuel from Italy and England’s Edward VII. Word of the achievements flew home fast to Dayton.

April 1, 1909, the two brothers were in Cento Elle, Italy to form the two pilots with the Army of Italy on the new plane that came from Ohio. During one flight, Wilbur escorted a reporter with him; he filmed the first footage of a plane in flight. 

Leaving Italy, the two brothers visited England briefly before leaving to go home, where work on the contract with the American army was awaiting them. While visiting England, they contracted an English balloon manufacturer to construct six Wright crafts for a variety of clients outside the French union.




Three brothers went to New York, May 11, where huge crowds welcomed. When they went at Dayton, May 13, the same welcome was waiting for them. President Taft also sent a message asking them to visit Washington, DC to accept a medal from the United States government. 

But in the end, they both returned to work building the first American military plane. When he finished, and with a brief break for a ceremony in honor them on June 17, the two head to Ft. Myer, Virginia, to demonstrate a military Flyer to the U.S. Army. The flyer was ready to be displayed on June 24, but they waited until certain all was right in spite of the spectators that came to watch. 

Orville took flight June 29. There was a shaky beginning and struck a tree, which damaged the aircraft. But it has repaired and he regained his calm. July 12, he started to fly without problems. On 27 July, he set another new record time, the flight of an hour 12 minutes with Lt. Lahm with him. This did exceed a requirement of the Army staying aloft for an hour with passengers on board. 

Wright Flyer of 1909 was then formally accepted on August 2, 1909, designated as Signal Corps Airplane No. 1, to be the first military plane. 

Following the approval of the plane, the Army then moved the aviation activities into College Park, Maryland, which could handle a larger field of flight. 

In October, Wilbur started giving flight lessons. Wilbur installed the addition of levers in the plane beside the student’s seat so that they would be able to take control. 

Humphreys solo, October 26 two minutes became the first "pilot". Wilbur was happy with the flights the next few days; he took Ms. Van Deman, the wife of Capt. Ralph Van Deman with the 21st Infantry



During this time, the brothers flying Foulois instructions mailed a couple of times. Early 1911, the planes were in bad condition, were ransacked by Foulois and rebuilt several different times, and were removed from service further.