Flight

Ingenuity releases its first aerial photos of its shadow cast across the Séítah terrain during its ninth flight.

Innovation for Good

NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Soars 2,000 Feet Through Martian Atmosphere in Its Ninth Successful Test Flight

The aerial trooper set new records for speed and distance, as well as stretched the capabilities of its navigation system

An undated photograph shows Wally Funk standing with a U.S. Air Force jet.

Trailblazing Pilot Wally Funk Will Go to Space 60 Years After Passing Her Astronaut Tests

Wally Funk, the youngest of the 'Mercury 13,' will join the inaugural crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule

A Microraptor, a small four-winged dinosaur that could fly, eats a fish.

Dinosaurs Evolved Flight at Least Three Times

A new study finds that many feathered dinosaurs were more aerodynamic than previously thought

“The shape of the Spitfire's wing and all of the compound curves on the airplane made it beautiful,” says the Smithsonian's Alex Spencer, curator of British and European military aircraft at the National Air and Space Museum.

Remembering the Supermarine Spitfire, Iconic Fighter Plane of World War II

'Spit' pilots flew their first combat missions over Dunkirk during the Battle of France

In 1891, Samuel P. Langley began experiments with large, tandem-winged models powered by small steam and gasoline engines that he called aerodromes. After several failures with designs that were too fragile and under-powered to sustain themselves, Langley had his first genuine success on May 6, 1896.

This Odd Early Flying Machine Made History but Didn't Have the Right Stuff

Aerodrome No. 5 had to be launched by catapult on the Potomac River on May 6, 1896, but it flew unpiloted 3,300 feet

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s shadow seen on the surface of Mars and captured by its own down-facing camera during its second test flight on April 22.

NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter's Next Mission? Mapping the Red Planet From Above

After successful test flights, NASA is expanding Ingenuity’s mission to further explore its abilities as an aerial scout

Stratolaunch's large aircraft, nicknamed 'Roc,' flew for three hours and 14 minutes and reached a maximum altitude of 14,000 feet.

World's Widest Airplane Completes Successful Second Test Flight

Stratolaunch's "Roc" aircraft has two fuselages and a wingspan of 385 feet

Aviation pioneer Henry “Hap” Arnold (above: with the Fly Fortress "Memphis Bell") lead the Army Air Force to victory in World War II and later establish the U.S. Air Force as the best in the world.

How Gen. Henry 'Hap' Arnold, the Architect of American Air Power, Overcame His Fear of Flying

Despite his phobia, the five-star general built the U.S. Air Force

Jessica Cox sitting in her Ercoupe.

Smithsonian Voices

The World's First Licensed Armless Pilot Is a Devoted Advocate for People Facing Similar Challenges

Jessica Cox, author of 'Disarm your Limits: The Flight Formula to Lift You to Success,' motivates people around the world to overcome their differences

Ingenuity undertakes its first test flight on Mars in this illustration.

Exploring Mars

NASA's Helicopter Ingenuity Will Attempt the First Flight on Mars

If the craft succeeds, it will provide crucial information for exploring the other planets by air

Silver-washed fritillary butterfly

New Research

Study Reveals the Secrets of Butterfly Flight

The fluttering insects create tiny jets of air by clapping their flexible wings together, which may help them evade predators

Tens of millions of years of bird evolution guided some of the most important elements of human-powered flight.N

Smithsonian Voices

How We Lifted Flight From Bird Evolution

The path to flight in modern birds was full of forks, twists and dead ends

John Glenn by Henry C. Caselli, Jr., 1998 is in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

Why John Glenn Couldn't Escape the Hero Label

A new book explores the man who would serve his country as a fighter pilot, an astronaut and a U.S. Senator

U.S. Air Force Captain Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound in this airplane, the Bell X-1, on October 14, 1947. The aircraft is currently housed at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Remember Chuck Yeager by Exploring the Plane He Flew to Break the Sound Barrier

In 1947, the pilot—who died Monday at age 97—made history by flying the Bell X-1 faster than the speed of sound

Chuck Yeager with Bell X-1.

Smithsonian Voices

A Smithsonian Curator Reflects on Chuck Yeager, a Pilot With the 'Right Stuff'

Seventy-nine years to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor Brig. Gen. Charles "Chuck" Yeager is dead at the age of 97

In 1943 the all-wing and jet-propelled Horten Ho 229 promised spectacular performance and the German air force (Luftwaffe) chief, Hermann Göring, allocated half-a-million Reichsmarks to brothers Reimar and Walter Horten to build and fly several prototypes.

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction With Horten's All-Wing Aircraft Design

New research dispels some of the myths behind the world's first jet-powered flying wing

Ruth Law stands in front of her Wright Model B biplane at the New York State Fair, Yonkers, 1913.

Smithsonian Voices

Suffragists Took to the Skies

At the Air and Space Museum, the archives reveal touch on how women aviators advanced the suffrage movement

At 33 pounds, Andean condors are the heaviest soaring birds on Earth, but a new study finds they can stay airborne for up to five hours at a time without flapping at all.

New Research

The Andean Condor Can Soar 100 Miles Without Flapping

The impressively efficient flight was recorded during a new study of the giant scavenger’s aerial prowess

Without wiggling, a paradise tree snake couldn't glide nearly as far.

New Research

Flying Snakes Need to Wriggle Through the Air to Glide

The paradise tree snake flattens its body and swerves in three dimensions to glide through the canopy

Owl-inspired innovations can reduce noise by as much as 10 decibels, similar to the difference in noise between a passing truck and a passing car.

To Silence Wind Turbines and Airplanes, Engineers Are Studying Owl Wings

No one knows exactly how the nocturnal hunters manage their whisper-soft flight, yet it's inspiring the design of quieter airplanes, fans and wind turbines