Since the beginning of time, man has watched the birds and wished for flight. But birds have light, hollow bones, strong muscles and feathers that make them designed for the air. We humans have heavy bones, weaker muscles and no feathers. We’re not made for flight. People dreamed about flying anyway.
The Chinese invented kites around 400 A.D. They used the kites in weather experiments and religious ceremonies. Kites helped scientists understand how wind currents work. In 1485, Leonardo DaVinci drew pictures of flying machines. One of his inventions, the ornithopter, gave modern scientists the idea for the helicopter.
Many other people experimented with flight, but it wasn’t until 1903 that the Wright Brothers built the first successful airplane. During World War 1, governments built war planes for fighting. After the war, commercial airlines began building airplanes to carry people and for transportation. Today, airplanes carry us all over the world.
Fun Facts about Airplanes and Flight for Kids
- Brothers Joseph and Jacque Montgolfier invented the first hot air balloons in 1783. The first hot air balloon carried a sheep, a rooster and a duck for a mile.
- George Cayley built the first gliders in 1799. His gliders floated on air currents, but couldn’t go long distances. Over the next 50 years, Cayley improved his designs. His early work helped later inventors understand the laws of flight.
- Otto Lienthal created the first gliders that could go longer distances and carry people. He wrote a book on aerodynamics that helped the Wright Brothers in their inventions.
Airplanes and Flight Vocabulary
- Hollow: empty in the middle
- Ceremony: special event or party
- Commercial: made by companies who charge a fee for their services or products
- Aerodynamics: the study of air, wind currents and flight
Learn More All About Airplanes and Flight
Learn from this fun video:
A cartoon video all about airplanes and how they fly.
AirplaneS and Flight Q&A
Question: How are airplanes powered?
Answer: Airplanes have an engine or propellers that move them forward, a process known as thrust. At the same time, gravity (weight) pulls the plane down, while friction (drag) slows it down. When the plane gets enough thrust to overcome weight and drag, it lifts off the ground. The wings of a plane have an aerofoil shape that helps the plane overcome gravity.
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