Top Ten Uses of Aviation
When the Wright Brothers demonstrated the first manned powered flight by an airplane in December 1903, the whole world was ushered into an era of man’s conquest of the air. Wilbur envisioned that their invention will have its main application as a carrier of mail and limited uses on the battlefield as a war machine. He was right about the mail and the airplane’s applications in war but there were a lot more uses that evolved through the years.
Mail Carrier – Imagine mail carrying planes at a time when airplanes were covered with fabric and pilots were exposed in an open cockpit with a set of goggles to keep their eyes protected against the wind. It was a relief that we now enjoy steady mails and freight forwarded packages from airplanes on enclosed cockpits and secured cargo compartments. Take note that the term “Air Mail” labeled on mail envelopes had been brought by the utilization of airplanes in carrying mails.
Passenger Transport – From single passengers on tandem seat biplanes, the airplane finally evolved into a first class passenger airline complete with amenities. In- flight entertainment had been superb with LCD screens on the armrest where the passenger could switch through channels to watch the film of his preference. The whole leg of the flight from Manila to London (or any comparable intercontinental flight) could get anyone sleepy and having a flight attendant wake you before each meals is the best meal “in bed” (well not exactly unless you could recline your seat fully on executive class) you could imagine while on the air. I’m wondering what the business class on an Airbus 380 could offer.
Cargo Transport – Before the airplane was invented, people have to endure lost time waiting for special products to be carried by ship from other continents to reach destination. Perishable goods from other continents have to be risked when storms delay the ship’s arrival to their port of destination. When the airplane came into use, everything changed. From lighter to the heaviest cargo imaginable, a freight version aircraft is available to complete the task. Waiting had been in a matter of days and freight forwarding business had been at its best.
Warfare – It couldn’t be denied that all the peaceful applications and advances in aviation had been there because military aviation had been at its peak during the two world wars ( World War I and II) and the Cold War that followed so much that any minimal differences in each aircraft specification from both warring sides could decide the fate of the war. The uses of radar, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in both navigation and flying during poor visibility couldn’t be undermined. Just imagine how the World War II ended without the B-25 that emptied its enormous cargo into Japan.
Emergency Medical Services – Ambulance on the ground could be very useful but air ambulance in terms of EMS configured helicopters and light jet aircraft could be far rewarding. The world’s best equipped hospitals had been housing helipads to allow EMS helicopters to land anytime which maximizes the chance for life whenever any eventuality calls for a patient or victim to be airlifted from the scene of tragedy to be given medical treatment or surgery as the case may call for.
Aerial Surveillance – Applications of aviation in aerial surveillance could be well appreciated in the broadcast industry or in any departments of the government. Traffic monitoring among major highways were commonly achieved by helicopters for any news agency. Department of Wildlife may need another helicopter to monitor the movement of animals in a forest reserve the same as the Department of Energy may utilize the same to inspect power lines. The weather bureau may need high altitude aircraft to study cloud formations and conduct sampling in the atmosphere for further study.
Search and Rescue – Whenever a distress call had been made by a ship which struck disaster at sea, any fixed wing aircraft or helicopter could react in minutes to locate the sinking ship and lend help. When disaster strikes, minutes could offer big difference between life and death and aviation has the only means to make such minutes matter minimizing casualty.
Law Enforcement – Hot pursuit of fugitives on the run could only be fully carried by helicopters or any fixed wing aircraft operated by any law enforcement agency. Anyone could expect that people dealing in illegal business could probably afford to pay for the fastest runaway vehicle to get them out of reach of the strong arm of the law. Transporting wanted criminals on the ground brings to mind all those great movies where the fugitive was easily rescued by colleagues. A well equipped aviation unit of law enforcement could make a big difference.
Firefighting – Building fires although difficult to suppress at times remain a basic fire issue that when prevented by any Fire Truck on the ground could be eventually stopped. In major cities of the world, buildings were fitted with alarm systems that could detect fire early to be averted. Forest fires however is a different issue as global warming comes to rise. Helicopters fitted with water buckets and amphibious aircraft capable of sucking water from lakes could make a big difference in airlifting huge volumes of water on site to prevent fire from spreading.
Airshows – Watching airplanes flying is fun and entertaining even on TV. Consider twice the intensity when you see planes making aerobatics in an airshow out in the open. From aerobatic biplanes with “wingwalkers” clinging by its side to high performance fighter jets doing formation flying and precision flying trailing with smoke, anybody could feel the difference watching anything out of “Oskosh Flying In” or at “Farnborough Airshow”.