Aerospace is an industry that has a history of about a century in the defense space. This article explains how the historic flight of the Wright brothers in 1908 gave birth to the aerospace defense industry which today employs 850,000 people in the United States alone.
One hundred years have now passed since the Wright Brothers’ rudimentary aircraft, powered by a 12-horsepower gasoline engine, achieved the astonishing feat of staying aloft for some 40 feet. Thanks to this achievement, one of mankind’s greatest and most enduring dreams – to conquer the skies – has finally come true. Any innovation in aerospace would have long-recognized military applications and today the US federal government employs approximately 850,000 skilled aerospace and defense workers at armed forces maintenance and repair depots. and in other defense agencies. Armed conflict has always been a catalyst for technological development, and the effect of war on aircraft development has been profound.
First navigable balloons and airships:
The defense industry has its origins in antiquity with the use of primitive weapons such as catapults, bow and arrows, the invention of gunpowder and the later development of rifles and cannons . The exploration of other means of air transport for military purposes was still a widespread event before this historical event.
Lighter-than-air balloons had been used intermittently in warfare since the 1790s, usually as moored observation platforms. The biggest downside with them was that they were at the mercy of the prevailing wind. During the Battle of Fleurus in 1794, the French successfully used observation balloons to observe the movements of Austrian troops.
The first attempts to add some form of steering system and propulsion unit were made as early as the mid-1800s, but without much success. By 1900, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin had refined this concept, producing rigid, seaworthy airships that were inflated using hydrogen, a highly flammable gas. These units were typically 450 feet (150 m) long and, driven by several small engines, were capable of speeds of up to 47 mph (75 km/hour) and could fly up to altitudes of 6,000 feet (1,828 m).
Originally used for travel and transport, they were first adapted for military use during World War I to drop explosive and incendiary bombs on various cities in Britain and France.
From the first flight to the first bomb drop:
Orville Wright’s superficial flight in December 1903 did not attract much attention, and two years were to pass before he and his brother, Wilbur, had refined their primitive aircraft enough for it to remain in the air. air over distances of up to 24 miles (38 km). In fact, it wasn’t until 1908, when they brought their aircraft to Europe and Wilbur made several flights in plain sight, that public excitement and interest was sparked. The following year, not only did Louis Blériot’s flight over the English Channel, which averaged 40 mph (64.36 km/h), but also that a French pilot reached a speed of 50 mph (80.45 km/h) and thus set a new world record. In 1910 Curtiss began a series of trials in which he sought to hit targets from the air, including ships, with dummy or real bombs. Reliable bomb sights were a prerequisite for success, and his experiments marked the beginning of what was to prove a long quest for such devices. Inter, the bombs were the first to be dropped in anger as early as 1911. During that year, the Tripolitanian War between Italy and the Ottoman Empire erupted when the former sought to wrest control of Libya from the door. This clash saw the first ever use of aircraft in combat, with the Italians employing a handful to observe and attack their Turkish adversaries.
British Royal Air Force:
Samuel Franklin Cody helped design and build Britain’s first officially recognized aircraft in October 1908, and the same year the United States also ordered its first aircraft – from the Wright Brothers – for military use. Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) – the world’s first independent air force – was established in 1918, its trappings and equipment included a telling blend of advanced technology and venerable martial customs. Within a few years of being adapted for military use, air power had become an advantage to those who possessed it. The RAF was the first such force in the world and was supported by an equally unique Air Ministry which was established in December 1917.
Cold War and the aerospace industry:
After World War II, the development of military aviation was spurred less by massive military conflicts than by the tense clash between the superpowers during the Cold War. The helicopter began to appear at the end of the Second World War and eventually became an indispensable part of military aviation. The need to continue to outmanoeuvre potential adversaries resulted in rapid development of new technologies and aircraft designs. The 1980s through to the present day have been characterized by incredible advancements in electronics, stealth technology, and offensive and defensive systems. Today, a country’s military aviation forces are often the first line of defense against attack, or the first forces to attack an enemy. The capability of military aviation forces (or lack thereof) has been determined in several recent conflicts such as the Gulf War.
Aerospace and Defense Industry Impact:
The aerospace industry has transformed daily life as well as warfare. The first commercial flights began in Florida in 1914 and, after World War I; the number of operating companies and routes began to multiply. Since the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight on December 17, 1903, just over a century ago, the aerospace and defense industry has changed the very nature of business and leisure travel and armed conflict. . Throughout history, the defense industry, and later the aerospace and commercial and military defense industry, have played a key role in human evolution, closely linked to economic growth. Revolutionary technological innovations were created, such as the jet engine, supersonic flight, spaceflight, radar, communications, direct-to-home television broadcasting, GPS navigation satellites and the development of the Internet. The Apollo lunar mission, which resulted in the first man to land on the moon on July 20, 1969, was probably one of the most iconic moments in the development of the aerospace industry, just 66 years after the Wright brothers first flew. .