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Air transportation is vitally important to the world's economy, as well as the thousands of people each day who make routine, long distance trips. While it is easy to take this convenience for granted, it is almost impossible to imagine life without it.Nearly a century has passed since the Wright brother's momentous flight, and preparations for next year's celebration are already underway. Two sites provide information about scheduled events for the festivities and help raise awareness of the history of flight. The first is operated by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) (1), and the other serves as the home page for the congressionally mandated Centennial of Flight Commission (2). The AIAA site has more background information, with a detailed timeline, biographies of flight pioneers, and interactive activities. The later site has video and sound clips, as well as details about webcasts that will be held for the celebration. A lot of educational materials are offered at the Dryden Flight Research Center (3). There are in-depth sections on flight testing and aeronautics, and many links to other useful resources are also given. The Air Transport Association (4) maintains an extensive handbook on several aspects of air transportation, ranging from economic view of the airline industry to the principles of flight and air traffic control. Technical specifications, design characteristics, and images are given in the aircraft museum on this site (5). Additionally, there are discussions of aerospike engines and hypersonic theory. A remarkable innovation in aircraft design is described here (6), the creators of the FanWing home page. This technology generates lift with "a horizontal-axis wing rotor," a technique that has not been successful until now. Details of the FanWing operation, including videos and news articles, are provided on the Web site. A NASA technical publication (7) documents the test results of a small, inflatable-winged aircraft. This unique design is thoroughly explained in this report, complete with diagrams that illustrate the components and operation of the craft. The Airworthiness Assurance Nondestructive Inspection Validation Center at Sandia National Laboratories (8) has a long history of assessing airplane conditions, and its work can be crucial to flight safety. The center's Web site discusses the accomplishments made since its inception.
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