The first airplanes had a central fuselage and one, two, or three pairs of wings. They could fly easily.


China was the first to experiment with fixed-wing flight. The Chinese were the inventors of the kite. Kites were being flown for thousands of years in China before they came to Europe. Fixed-wing flight began to advance. In 1799, Sir George Cayley came up with a concept called a glider. He finally succeeded in 1853 with his own glider. Other scientists created their own gliders afterwards. Then, on December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers successfully flew the Wright Flyer. This was the first airplane.


Tech Level: 8-10

Early airplanes used a piston engine that drove a propeller. This was the kind of plane used in World War I. After World War I, planes were used for mail. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic Ocean. This helped bring about passenger planes. The first successful passenger plane was the DC-3 in 1936. The plane was pioneered by Lindbergh's old company which now merged with other airlines to create American Airlines. The DC-3 would be the standard transport plane of World War II. After World War II, planes started to get faster. The DC-6 was the first four-engine pressurized plane of American Airlines. In 1959, American, Pan-Am, and other airlines started buying the Boeing 707, the first successful jet plane. By the early 21st century, the biggest airplane was the Airbus A380, introduced in 2005. By that time, planes were becoming more efficient and more automated. Soon, the designs would be radical.

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