Sunday is National Aviation Day in the US. Created in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to celebrate aviation and the birthday of Orville Wright, one of the Wright brothers who made the first successful airplane. NASA celebrated the day with new mini-posters showing the innovations the agency made to aviation.
NASA released several lithographs on its website that identify the various technology the agency developed since it was founded and what aircraft make use of the innovations. Some of the contributions the agency made to aviation include advancements in propulsion, safety, and navigation on commercial aircraft, military jets, and helicopters.
On the planes most people use on a daily basis, NASA developed a lot of the aircraft designs that help improve the aerodynamics such as winglets on the wings to help reduce drag, wind tunnels to test planes, and even the materials to make the aircraft. Not only that, the agency helped develop software used for commercial flight and air traffic control along with figuring out that grooves in the runways help with landings.
General Aviation Aircraft
General aircraft carry the same technology from NASA like commercial jetliners along with a few extras. For safety, innovations such as lightning protection, de-icing systems, and event airbags came about thanks to the agency. NASA also helped developed quiet jets for small jets, real-time graphical weather displays, and the Highway-in-the-Sky system, which gave pilots the communications and data needed for navigation.
Fighter jets and other military planes use much of the same technology as other aircraft but also included other innovations needed for combat. Thrust vectoring and variable-sweep wings are two advanced developed in part with NASA to improve a jet’s maneuverability in the air. The agency played a role in how aircraft land and take off with the development of the technology to do both short and vertical takeoffs.
NASA also played a role in the innovations found in helicopters. Technologies the agency had a hand in to improve safety and aerodynamics are used in helicopters along with improvements in transmissions and rotors it helped develop over the decades.
Although NASA is known best for its missions to outer space, the technology it developed is used by people across the world every day. The agency, however, does have to worry about one little craft called Opportunity who might be in big trouble on Mars.