Earlier this week, the Air Force announced that the X-51 WaveRider, a wingless scramjet, would make its first hypersonic flight. After learning that the scramjet would reach Mach 6, we couldn't help but reflect on the progress aviation has made in just a century. We've combed the archives to build just one of many amazing snapshots of these incredible 100 years.
Click to launch the photo gallery
On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers embarked on the first sustained, heavier-than-air, man-powered flight aboard the Wright Flyer. Although they made history that day at Kitty Hawk, people were skeptical of aviation technology's potential. An article we published in March 1904 examined what the brothers' feat meant for aviation before concluding that the machines would never develop into commercial carriers. "To say nothing of the danger, the sizes must remain small and the passengers few....navigable balloons and flying machines will constitute a great mechanical triumph for man, but they will not materially upset existing conditions as has sometimes been predicted."
Of course, the progression we've made in aviation was largely a matter of trial and error. For every legendary fighter jet that soared, there was a sausage plane or a zeppelin that went under. Still, as the content our archives will attest, a little imagination and perseverance went a long way.
Click through the gallery for our favorite airplanes, airships, flying boats, and spaceships.
amazing how far technology has gone. to bad it was made mostly for war .
I know that the X-51a is impressive, It's a little disappointing comparing this last half century to the first half century of aviation. I mean, the Wright bros flew in 1903, and in a little over 50 years from that point, we were designing mach 3 plus heavy bombers! That and then the next decade the 60's was equally impressive with the SR-71. Let's hope that the X-51a ushers in a new time of heavy aviation advancement!
I happened to be skimming the December 1959 issue relating to the then-new F-100 fighter jet.
I scrolled down to page 114 of that issue and what did I see? Burt Rutan's White Knight and Space Ship One!
Well, not exactly- but pretty close, and describes as being made of composite material, to boot!
Usually PopSci is a little off the mark- on this one it was spot on!.
I think a great edition would be - "The future we got right" and some explanation of the time/difficulties in getter there.
If one ignores all the hoopla surrounding the cancellation of the [Flawed Apollo repeat] Constellation program- there are an awful lot of interesting things in the Space community happening now- From Vasimr Engine tech to the X-37 (in space now!). And lets not forget Elon Musk's Falcon 9! A Private sector designed and developed ship into Orbital space! It's about time. Reminds me of my old Tom Swift Books.
I would just want to show to the guy that said that planes will never be commercially used the Airbus A-380. That would be funny.