Flight

Heart Aerospace's ES-30, a regional electric airplane with seats for 30 passengers

Electric Planes Are Taking Flight

More airlines are ordering battery-powered aircraft to help reduce their environmental impact

The Bell X-1, a miracle of form and function.

How the Bell X-1 Ushered in the Supersonic Age

The speeding-bullet design propelled Chuck Yeager into history

Researchers tracked one moth for just under 56 miles, marking the longest distance an insect has been continuously tracked.

How Migrating Death's-Head Hawkmoths Fly Along a Straight Path

No prior study had continuously monitored wild, nocturnal migrating insects

This fall, visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., can see the glider and other treasures, when the “Early Flight” exhibition opens in the museum's newly transformed west wing.

This Quirky Contraption Lifted 19th-Century Pilots Into the Air for a Short, Exhilarating Glide

The rare Lilienthal glider, one of only a few originals known to exist, is newly conserved and ready for its public debut

Experts have authenticated the leather hat worn by Amelia Earhart through archival photographs.

Amelia Earhart's Leather Flying Cap Sells at Auction for $825,000

Worn by the famed aviator during her 1928 flight across the Atlantic, the lost helmet was kept for nearly a century in the closet of a Minnesota home

Zara Rutherford greets reporters at  Wevelgem International Airport on January 20, 2022 in Kortrijk, Belgium. At age 19, she became the youngest female pilot to circumvent the globe, traveling across five continents in five months while flying in a single-seater sport plane.

Good News

19-Year-Old Woman Completes Around-the-World Solo Flight

Zara Rutherford flew 28,000 nautical miles of five continents to become the youngest woman to finish a solo global flight

“Bessie Coleman (above: with her Curtiss JN-4 "Jennie" in her custom designed flying suit, ca. 1924) was a real gutsy woman for the era,” says Dorothy Cochrane, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. "Anyone else might have quit at any time.”

For Pilot Bessie Coleman, Every 'No' Got Her Closer to 'Yes'

Despite fierce obstacles in her path, the Black female aviator became a hero that would pave the way for generations to come

The remarkable Hudsonian godwit.

Alaska

This Wonder Bird Flies Thousands of Miles, Non-Stop, as Part of an Epic Migration

The more scientists learn about the Hudsonian godwit, the more they’re amazed—and worried

On October 24, 1944, the Battle of Leyte Gulf had just begun when two Hellcat pilots U.S. Navy Capt. David McCampbell and his wingman Ens. Roy Rushing spotted a squadron of 60 Japanese aircraft, including bombers escorted by Zeroes (above: a 1943 photograph of Grumman F6F Hellcats in flight).

In One Mission in October 1944, Two F6F Hellcats Shot Down a Record 15 Enemy Aircraft

U.S. Navy Pilots David McCampbell and Roy Rushing made history in a heroic air battle over the Leyte Gulf

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

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