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Aircraft Guide for Kids

In the past, people would watch birds and wished that they could fly. Over the years, people learned how to travel by sea and travel faster by land; however, until the first aircraft was built, flying always seemed a distant dream. Now not only is air travel possible, but there are so many different ways to travel through the air. Here are a few examples of different types of aircrafts.

Helicopters

Helicopters are a type of aircraft that use spinning blades in order to fly instead of wings. These spinning blades create lift which then allows the helicopter to move about freely. This gives helicopters an advantage over other types of aircraft because helicopters can move up and down, sidewise, and even hover in the same spot. In addition they do not need a runway. Helicopters are used in the military, by media stations, rescue missions, and as ambulances. Over the years, many people helped come up with the idea of the helicopter and tried to build models; however, most of these ended up failing or only being able to fly for short distances. Then in 1936, a helicopter called the Fa-61 and developed by Heinrich Focke and Gert Achgelis was one of the first helicopters to be completely successful by demonstrating controlled flight. It was used during World War 2, and over the years after the war, the helicopter's design was tuned and tweaked until it became the machine that is used today.

Blimps

Blimps are a unique aircraft that uses an inflatable balloon filled with typically helium to fly. The terms blimp, dirigible, and zeppelin are often used interchangeably in everyday talk, but they actually are talking about different things. Dirigibles describe all of these kinds of machines, while zeppelins are a specific airship created by a German company with a metal skeleton to help keep the ships shape. Blimps on the other hand, have no internal skeleton like this. Blimp designs were inspired by hot air balloons in the past, and inventors began to work on improving that design. Ferdinand von Zeppelin developed the first zeppelin, and these kinds of aircrafts were used in the military at first. After they were found to be easy targets for planes, blimps started being used for just advertisement mostly, the most famous blimp being the Goodyear Blimp.

Airliners

Airliners are the typical aircrafts that people think about when talking about planes. They are planes with two wings on the side, an engine of some kind to help propel the aircraft, and usually a tail to help with steering. They are used in the military and in transportation, but their most often thought of use is travelling. Everyday people travel to faraway places on airliners because they can cover a great distance at great speeds. These airliners also have capacity to carry a greater weight than most aircraft, whether it is used to hold people or objects. The first airliner in the world was the Benoist XIV in 1913, but only flew for a few months. After that, changes were made to make these aircraft more durable, yet still light, and safer especially after several accidents involving airliners.

Cargo Aircraft

While airliners were mostly intended for people, cargo aircraft were intended to carry other things such as animals, materials, mail, and many other types cargo. These kinds or aircraft were important in both the military and in every day shipping and cargo transportation. These kinds of aircraft usually focus on providing more weight capacity than trying to fly faster. Since the invention of the airliner, cargo aircraft have also been simultaneously used and improved in the same manner.

Turboprops

The word turboprop refers to both a type of engine used in certain aircraft and the planes that use this engine. What makes a turboprop different than other types of engines is that it primarily uses a propeller to help move the plane in flight. This is great for planes that want to fly short distances at lower altitudes because the thicker atmosphere creates more traction for the propeller. These are the kinds of planes that are used by businesses and flights that require fewer passengers, as they are more fuel efficient using this type of design. Frank Whittle in 1930 patented the design of the turboprop, but the first actual engine was made in 1938 by György Jendrassik. The design of course has been changed over the years to make these kinds of planes more efficient, but the basic concept has not.

Twin Pistons

Once again, this refers to both a type of engine as well as the plane that uses them. Piston engines are actually used in automobiles and steam engines as well as in planes. The piston is connected to a rod which is then connected to a crankshaft. This crankshaft rotates and pushes the piston back and forth within a cylinder to turn the propeller. This was the type of engine that the Wright Brothers used in their first plane, and for a long time was the only type of engine to power most aircraft until the jet engine was introduced. Now, twin piston aircrafts are used for personal use because of fuel efficiency, and because they generally can only hold about six passengers at most.

Executive Jets

Jet engines are the kind of engines that people see today used on most planes. Unlike turboprop engines, the rely more on jet fuel to propel themselves in the air. While this makes them less fuel efficient and therefore more expensive, they can travel greater distances, climb higher altitudes, and carry more weight. Initially jet engines were first seen being used in World War 2, but they were refined because of the Cold War. While the development of the jet engine was primarily funded by militaries across the world, their uses began to be applied to commercial flights as well.

Rockets

The development of rockets began as early as 200's when they were used in China during religious festivals to scare away evil spirits. Since then, the concept of the rocket has been used in the engines of aircraft, including the turboprop and the jet engines. Basically a rocket uses some kind of burnable material and oxygen to create hot gases that propel the rocket or other object forward. While a rocket engine must rely on an internal supply of oxygen, a jet engine simply uses the oxygen from the outside air. While this makes jet engines more efficient in typical atmospheric conditions, rockets are better used when the atmosphere is thin or in space. Rocket-type engines are therefore used on space shuttles and other high flying aircraft.

Military Aircrafts

While humans have inherently been attracted to flying and have designed and schemed over people across the world, the credit in enhancing air travel often goes to the military. These enhancements that benefit the military eventually become used for everyday people and businesses. Military aircrafts include things such as fighter planes, stealth planes, transport/carrier planes, helicopters, rockets, and cargo aircraft. Being military aircraft, they also must take into consideration the strength and durability of such aircraft, as well as trying to carry the most advanced technology available.

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