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The history of aviation

Part 1: The beginnings of aviation


Aviation history is a fascinating and complex story that spans more than a century. In this three-part series, we will look at recent events and developments in aviation history, highlighting the technical, scientific and cultural aspects of this exciting journey through the skies in the process.


The beginnings of aviation can be traced back to the 18th century, when the first experiments with hot air balloons were undertaken. The Frenchman Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes ascended in hot air balloons for the first time in 1783 and made history. But it was the German engineer Otto Lilienthal who pioneered aviation at the end of the 19th century. Lilienthal experimented with gliders and recognised the importance of aerodynamic principles for flight.


The first powered flight was undertaken in 1903 by the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They pursued an aircraft powered by a petrol engine that could move through the air. The flight lasted only 12 seconds, but it marked the beginning of modern aviation. In the following years, aircraft continued to pursue each other and the First World War accelerated the development of aircraft and flight technologies.

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