Planes are not something one often thinks about in their day to day lives, they offer transportation around the world for both people and things and for many that is all the thought towards them that they deserve. Planes have become an everyday part of society, so much so that it’s almost impossible to imagine living in a time without them. So if I were to make a case for why the invention of the plane was historically significant, I think that the impact of this invention alone could make this case but there is so much more to this story.
It’s the turn of the century, the 1800’s had been full of technological advancements, changing how we see and interacted with the world and the people in it. So many wonders of of the world worked had been discovered, from the theory of evolution and Mendelian traits to new elements and the modern day periodic table. It was only fair that moving into the 20th century, hope for new technologies grew, with aviation technology being one specific area of interest for scientists and leaders alike. The only problem was, no one was making much progress with said tech. Most of the scientific community’s approach to this problem was to try and keep the craft in the air using extreme amounts of power. As you can probably guess, non of these experiments lead to the result wanted from the scientists.
It wasn’t until one fateful day in 1903 when two brothers preformed the previously impossible feat of flight. The original flights only lasted up to 15 seconds in the air but what happened in those 5 seconds proved to these brothers flight was possible, it was only a matter of designing the most efficient body and wings for this machine. But how did these brothers, who would soon be known around the world as the Wright Brothers, figure out how to do what the worlds inventors and scientists had felt was seeming improbable? Simple, they used aeronautics, the study of flight. Both brothers studied the principles and laws of flight that had been put together over the last century and came to the conclusion that gliding was the way take humanity to the skies.
Over the next few years, the brothers experimented with different materials and designs for gliders, finding what worked and what didn’t. They then turned their attention to propulsion technology to be able to start a flight from the ground. Finally, in 1903 all that research came to a head, being the first humans to fly. News of this spread through the world, with many other scientists trying to recreate the technology, none of them coming close to what the brothers had achieved. It wasn’t until 1908 when the brothers gained a patent for their technology that they went around the world giving demonstrations of their flying machine, new and improved which could stay in the air for over 30 minutes.
The biggest hurdled for human flight had been overcome and soon the worlds attention was on the idea of flight. In the next decade many new advancements to this tech were created, commercial flights were beginning to seem more and more plausible. And in 1914, that idea became reality with the Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line.
Nowadays, we barely blink at the idea of passenger flights but back in those days the idea that you could make to a foreign country in just an 8 hour flight was game changing. As aviation technology became even better, cultures around the world started to mix more than they ever had in the history of the world, a week’s trip to France wasn’t prefaced by a two week trip from American by boat so trips around the world became much more practical.
The ability for the public to easily travel the world wasn’t the only the that had changed with the creation of the airplane. The shipping of goods around the world also became a lot easier meaning that companies could now move product around the world with much less hassle than before. It was a big contributor to globalization. Whether or not we liked it the world was becoming more and more interconnected with each other, all thanks to the two brothers who decided that they wanted to fly.