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Aviation Industry and Its Prominent Inventions Essay

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Updated: Apr 8th, 2022


The aviation industry is approximately two thousand years old. Developments in aviation have been out of human need to excel in both the civilian and military sectors. Kites, gliders, balloons, and advanced aircraft have characterized the development of the aviation industry. The US has been a global leader in aviation development for a long time.

Private companies have come up with exceptional inventions that have had a lasting impact in the industry. Over time, various entities including the government and private commercial companies have invested in aviation research often with impressive results. Some of the leading aviation entities in the US today include Lockheed Martin, Boeing and NASA.

They have excelled in the development of advanced aircraft for military and commercial use as well as space exploration. Boeing and NASA have especially pioneered developments in their respective fields. This discussion will focus on the Boeing 707 Jet, the Bell X-1 and the NASA Mercury capsule, “Friendship Seven”. The above are some of the most influential aviation inventions ever made in the history of the industry.

The Boeing 707 Jet, the Bell X-1 and the NASA Mercury capsule

The three developments are noted for pioneering developments in their respective sectors in the aviation industry. They were the “prototypes” on which future developments took place.

Introduction of the Boeing 707 into commercial travel was preceded by the use of large aircraft which mostly employed the use of turbine engines. Arrival of the Boeing changed commercial travel and introduced the Jet Age which was characterized by the use of aircraft that were swifter, faster and more efficient.

According to Francillon, the aircraft marked a true turning point and a new age in travel (90). Its commercial success ushered in the development of the Boeing 7×7 series which has since set standards for other notable aviation manufacturers such as Airbus. In fact, it is safe to conclude that every flying airliner can easily trace their design and roots to the Boeing 707.

Francillon notes that there is likely to be small variation even if a new form of a commercial aircraft is developed (99). It is, therefore, almost a foregone conclusion that commercial aviation will always develop within the confines of the standards that Boeing set in with the 707.

One of the most researched elements in aviation is speed. The importance of speed in both military and commercial aircraft cannot be overstated. In 1944, the US military embarked on a research project that sought to develop a supersonic aircraft. Bell Aircraft was tasked with the role of designing of the aircraft.

In 1945, the Bell Aircraft produced the Bell X-1, whose derivative was the first aircraft to exceed supersonic levels in controlled level flight (Pisano et al. 49). It is safe to conclude, therefore, that the BellX-1 was the prototype of all supersonic aircrafts that exist today and that are crucial to defense and commercial purposes of many countries including the United States.

Though supersonic commercial jets were grounded, the military, especially the US Air Force, continues to develop and employ their use for various operations, including espionage, reconnaissance and combat. The Bell X-1 aircraft, therefore, provided a major turning point in the development of sonic aircraft that will always influence future models.

Besides the arms race, the Cold War was also marked by a space race between the US and the Soviet Union. Both countries considered the development of manned space missions as proof of aeronautical superiority. Project Mercury was, therefore, tasked with the development of a human space flight program that will eventually aid in orbiting a manned spacecraft around planet Earth as well as serve as the launch pad for future manned space missions.

NASA developed “Friendship 7”, a spacecraft that took part in Mercury-Atlas 6 space fight mission that took the first American John Glenn to orbit (Catchpole 78). Though Russians had developed a spacecraft that took the first human being to the earth’s orbit, they were unable to maintain it and the program didn’t develop further.

Successful orbiting and further development on Friendship 7 technologies laid the foundation for the successful manned mission to the moon and other missions to the International Space Station. Given the failure in the development of manned aircraft by Russia, it is safe to conclude that Friendship 7 provided the crucial technology and leadership for future manned space flight missions.


The aviation industry in the 21st century has recorded remarkable achievements. Since the introduction of the Boeing 707, the company has developed better and improved models of the Boeing commercial aircraft with latest being the current 787 dream liner. The military has also made significant developments in the development of supersonic and hypersonic aircraft including the F-22 Raptor and the current hypersonic vehicle being tested by the US Army and US Air force.

NASA is currently considering manned missions to asteroids and finally to the planet Mars. Certainly, there are many more development in commercial airline business, the air force and space exploration besides the above three. However, it is important to note that the above inventions set the pace for any successes being witnessed now.

Works Cited

Catchpole, John. Project Mercury. NASA’s first manned space programme, Chichester: Praxis Publishing, 2001. Print.

Francillon, Rene. Boeing 707: pioneer jetliner, New York: MBI Publishing Company LLC, 1999. Print.

Pisano, Dominick et al. Chuck Yeager and the Bell X-1: breaking the sound barrier, Detroit: Harry N Abrams Inc. 2006. Print.

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