Every day thousands of airplanes criss-cross around the globe transporting travelers to their destinations. They fly without a thought to how significant the ability to take to the skies is. Imagine trying to get to another continent just 120 years ago; it would have been a long and tedious voyage on a ship. Most people alive today take air travel for granted. But in fact, airplanes have changed the world significantly.
So how have airplanes changed the world?
The ability to travel anywhere has opened up a level of globalization unheard of in the previous century. Almost every location on the planet is accessible by using air travel. Our big world has shrunk into a community of human beings able to share cultures, ideas, and so much more. The airplane has indeed changed the world!
Life Before Airplanes
Long before Wilbur and Orville Wright began their pursuit of flying, everyday people could only travel by foot, horse and buggy, train or ship. Thank you, Henry Ford, for inventing the automobile, but back then, the average person could not afford one.
Traveling cross-country took weeks and even months, which also applied to mail delivery and the transport of goods.
People would write letters as a means of communication, although it would take quite a while to get a reply. That is until the United States Postal Service started using airplanes to transport mail all over the nation.
Impact of Airplanes on Society
In the past, global cultures rarely crossed paths. Only the explorer or adventurer would be able to meet and mingle with isolated communities across continents.
Shipping was instrumental in transporting goods and people around the globe, and yet, the average citizen could rarely take advantage of it. They were busy working and trying to survive.
Airplanes changed all that. Now you can sample tantalizing delicacies from anywhere in the world as well as introduce yourself to peoples in remote locations anywhere there is a landing strip.
Why are airplanes important?
Airplanes have been integral to success in many different areas, including but not limited to:
Search and Recovery in Remote Locations
Air search and rescue operations are vital to finding survivors whether hikers lost in the mountains or an unfortunate airplane crash. Locating the lost is much faster rather than only using ground search teams.
Although landing is usually not an option, rescuers can be called in by the pilots using GPS coordinates, increasing the chances of a quick recovery.
Unfortunately, our world has seen two major wars, as well as many conflicts, and the airplane has played a big part in determining who would be the victor. He who has the newer technology is inevitably successful at scouting, shooting, delivering paratroopers and payloads.
Advances in aerodynamics, along with more precise aiming, were instrumental in battle success. Who can forget the Kamikaze pilots of Japan who used their airplanes as a weapon?
Stepping Stone to Space Travel
The ability to fly fanned the flames of many scientists who yearned to achieve space travel. Wernher von Braun, the father of the V2 Rocket and mastermind behind the Apollo missions to the moon, was one such scientist. He studied aeronautics and engineering with a goal to one day reach the stars.
GPS-Global Positioning System/Satellites for Television and Radio
Sputnik, the Soviet Union’s first satellite, was launched on October 4th, 1957 giving impetus to the rush for other countries to put satellites in space. The radio signals emitted were used to pinpoint locations of submarines by the US Navy; thus, it was the birth of the global positioning system.
Over the next few decades, satellites were used for television and AM/FM radio as well. None of this would be possible without the technology created to improve airplane performance.
What problem did the airplane solve?
Mail traveled by train, ship, and a short duration of the pony express before airplanes came into existence. In 1918 the first airmail transport service was commissioned to speed up delivery and offer faster mailing times to its customers. Back in those days, communication was through writing letters.
Edison and Bell were still working on the telephone, and even when it was functional, many people did not have one in their homes. By using airplanes for mail transport, what once took weeks to get to its destination now would take hours.
How have airplanes changed the modern world?
Transportation of Perishables
Imagine craving an orange in December in New York in the early 1900s and knowing then that is was impossible to get fresh produce from the south at that time of the year.
Fast forward 50 years and air transports have made it possible to get varieties of fresh fruit, seafood, black Angus beef from Texas or avocados from Mexico year-round.
Aerial Photographs and Movies
Since the beginning of time, man could only imagine what it would be like to look upon the earth from the clouds, yearning restlessly for wings. The magic of flight introduced the ability to capture the beauty of our planet and its varied terrain in movies and photographs.
Technological Advances To Support The Airline Industry
Much of the world’s growth in technology began in the aviation field. The desire for airplanes to fly more efficiently, achieve longer distances, and to be able to reach higher altitudes started with the military but applied to civilian transport too.
The Air Force needed to have the advantage over enemies through the use of superior aircraft, which in turn created the impetus to improve airplane technology consistently.
Supports International Business
A little over a hundred years ago, if a business in Europe wanted to sell their products in another country, it would be a challenge. It would either take a long sea voyage or a tedious cross-country ride on whatever means were available.
Now, with the ability to hop a plane, they can fly around the world within hours. Businesses can be considered international, boosting their profits, which in turn creates more jobs for their local community.
Speaking of employment, the airline industry, at any given time, supports approximately 64 million workers worldwide; a testament to how airplanes have changed the world.