50 Interesting Facts About Airplanes and Aviation You Never Knew

I consider aircraft is one of the greatest inventions and achievements of mankind. In modern history, the credit for the invention of the airplane goes to the Wright Brothers of USA in 1903, although traces of the existence of the aircraft can be found in ancient history (7800 BC approx.) where in the Hindu Epic Ramayana, Ravana takes Sita to Sri Lanka in his aircraft known as Pushpak Vimana (Mythical aerial vehicle of Lord Vishnu).

In this article, I am presenting fun facts about Aviation, like why a pilot says Mayday in emergency situations. Well, the answer is: because ‘MAYDAY’ has been derived from the French word m’aidez, which means ‘help me’. Similarly, do you know that about 1 in 5 people suffer from “Aviophobia (fear of flying)?”

Interesting Facts About Aviation and Airplanes You Never Knew

The facts have been collected from the Internet and cover various aviation subjects and topics such as Air Traffic Control (ATC), Airlines, Aircraft, Pilots, etc.

1. Tallest ATC Tower

  • Four of the world’s tallest air traffic control (ATC) towers are located in Asia, while the United States of America (US) has three.
  • Thailand has the tallest ATC tower in the world, followed by Malaysia, the US, Japan and China.
  • Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand has the world’s tallest air traffic control (ATC) tower standing 132.2m (434ft).
  • In the Indian context, right now Mumbai Airport tower is the tallest with a height of 83.8m but soon the throne will be taken from the New Delhi ATC Tower (with a height of 101.9m) which is under construction.

2. Angle Matters the Most

Airport control tower windows must be angled at precisely 15 degrees from vertical at the top to decrease reflections from both inside and outside the tower.

3. Father of Aviation

In 1799, English aviator George Cayley (1773–1857) built the first glider that could go short distances. His early work helped inventors understand the dynamics of flight, and the Wright Brothers acknowledged his importance.

4. Father of Indian Aviation

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (JRD) Tata is known as the Father of Indian Aviation. In 1929, he became the first person in the country to be issued a pilot’s license.

5. World’s Oldest Airlines

  • KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, meaning Royal Dutch Airlines) is the world’s oldest airline, established in 1919. Its first flight between Amsterdam and London took place on 17th May 1920.
  • Qantas(Queensland And Northern Territories Air Service) is the world’s second oldest airline, established in 1920.

6. India’s Oldest Airlines

  • Tata Airlines was founded in 1932 by J.R.D. Tata was India’s first commercial airline. In 1946, Tata Airlines became Air India.
  • On 11th June 1962, Air India became the world’s first all Jet airline.

7. First Successful Flight

The Wright brothers (Orville and Wilbur Wright) invented and flew the first airplane in 1903. It is considered the world’s first “sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.” Their aircraft, the Wright Flyer, flew about 120 feet. Today, the newest Boeing 787 can fly 10,000 miles on a single tank of gas.

8. Orange “Black” Box

Most airplanes have a flight data recorder that keeps track of everything the plane does. These are often called “black boxes” even though they are orange.

9. The 5% Factor: Only 5% of the world’s population has ever traveled by plane.

10. Aircraft Windshield = BMW

 One windshield or window frame of a Boeing 747-400’s cockpit costs as much as a BMW car.

11. The Jumbo

  • The Boeing 747 wing span (195 feet) is longer than the Wright Brothers’ first flight of 120ft.
  • The worldwide 747 fleets have logged more than 78 billion kilometers, equivalent to 101,500 trips to the moon and back.
  • The average 747 has between 240-280 kilometers of wiring.
  • Each engine on a Boeing 747 weighs almost 9,500 pounds (4,300 kg), cost about $8 million USD, and burns about twelve gallons of fuel per minute when cruising.
  • The Boeing 747 burns approximately one gallon of fuel every second. Over the course of a ten-hour flight, it may burn up to 36,000 gallons.

12. Then “Super” Jumbo

  • The world’s largest passenger plane is the Airbus A380. It is a double-decker four-engine jetliner.
  • It made its first flight on April 27, 2005, and Singapore Airlines was the first airline to add this Super Jumbo in its fleet in the year 2007.
  • The wing span of the A380 is longer than the aircraft  Wingspan is 80m, and the length is 72.7m.
  • The Airbus A380 has about 4 million parts.

13. And finally comes “The Antonov”

  • The Russian Antonov AN-225 cargo jet is the largest plane in the world.
  • It is nearly as big as a football field from nose to tail and wing tip to wing tip.
  • It was originally built to transport a space plane. It has 6 engines.

14. The Fastest Aircraft

The world’s fastest airplane is the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, flying at 2,193 miles per hour. It has held the record for nearly 40 years. Here it is worth mentioning that commercial jet has an average cruising speed of 550–580 mph.

15. The Micro-Bird

The world’s smallest jet is the BD-5 Micro. Its wingspan is 14–21 feet and weighs just 358 pounds;

16. The longest flight: Sydney to Dallas on Qantas A380 is the world’s longest flight by distance.

17. Internet and Online Check-In

The internet and online check-in were first introduced by Alaska Airlines in 1999.

18. Winglets = Tallest Man of the world

The winglets on an Airbus A330-200 are the same height as the world’s tallest man(2.4m).

19. Different Food

Pilots on a plane don’t eat the same food as passengers or each other to avoid falling ill at the same time. Different airlines may have different policies regarding this but there is definitely a safety net.

20. Air Travel: Safest Mode of travel? The answer is NO. Air travel is the second safest form of transportation. Only the elevator/escalator is safer, although it would take quite some time to travel 1,000 miles on an escalator.

21. Faulty Taste Buds

The atmosphere in an airplane cabin dries out a person’s nose, and the changing air pressure numbs about 1/3 of a person’s taste buds. This is one reason for airlines adding lots of spices and salt to their foods. Additionally, tomato juice tastes less acidic in the air.

22. Theory of Water and Air

Traveling by air can shed up to 1.5 liters of water from the body during an average 3-hour flight. So drink as much as possible water to keep dehydration at bay.

23. Being on Ground Safety

One the most deadly airplane accidents actually happened on the ground. In 1977, two fully loaded planes carrying a total of over 600 passengers collided head-on in the middle of the runway in what is now known as the Tenerife Accident, named after Tenerife Island where the accident occurred. Over 500 people died.

24. Language of ATC and Pilots

English is the international language of flight. All Air Traffic Controllers and all commercial pilots who fly on international flights are required to communicate in English. However, this is not plain English. In ATC world, they call it Phraseology which is a standard format used by ATCOs and Pilots all across the world. Hundreds of lives have been lost in Air accidents just because of communication problems.

25. The Enemy of Aircraft

Mercury is not allowed on a flight. Even a small amount of mercury can seriously damage Aluminium, which is what most planes are made from. Aircraft that are exposed to mercury is usually quarantined.

26. And the Busiest Airport is…..

Well, if your answer is London Heathrow then you are at the wrong end.

  • The world’s busiest airport is the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, at over 96 million passengers a year. London Heathrow is in the third spot.
  • O’Hare is the busiest in the world in terms of take-offs and landings.
  • In the Indian context, Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi is the busiest airport. Mumbai is number two while Bengaluru is in the third spot.

27. The Largest Airport

The world’s largest airport with respect to a land area of 78000 ha King Fahd International Airport has been located the northwest of Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

28. The Runway

  • Airport with the longest runway in the world is QamdoBangda Airport in the People’s Republic of China with 5.50 kilometers in length (as of 2011).
  • Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Runway 29/11 with a length of 4430m stands at 32nd position in this list.
  • The Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (Dutch Caribbean island of Saba) has the shortest commercial runway in the world, only 396 meters (1,299 ft) long.

29. The Safest Airlines

As well as being the second oldest airline in the world Qantas, formed in 1920, also has the best safety record with no fatal crashes in its history. Tick Tock.

30. These 11 Minutes Are the Scariest

I am not saying you should spend the three minutes after take-off and the last eight minutes before landing frozen in fear, but you should probably be awake and alert. Research has shown that these 11 minutes are when 80 percent of plane crashes occur. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to ignore the flight crew’s instructions.

31. Oxygen Mask only lasts 15 Minutes

The oxygen masks in an airplane only hold enough oxygen to last approximately fifteen minutes, which is long enough for the plane can reach a low enough altitude to have breathable air.

32. Incidents of Turbulence Are Rising

It’s official, there is no place on or above the earth you can escape the negative effects of climate change. Increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been causing incidents of turbulence to rise. They will continue to rise until we humans are able to make climate-friendly life choices.

33. You might have Only 90 Seconds to Escape a Burning Plane

Better make sure that you know where the emergency exits are on your flight. A minute and a half is the amount of time it can take for a fire to spread through the plane.

34. The Emirates

Emirates is the world’s largest operator of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft and is one of only nine airlines in the world to operate an all-wide-body fleet.

35Passengers are not only ones who need rest

Long-haul Flights (over 12 hours) need 4 pilots(2 Captain and 2 First officers OR 1 Captain and 3 Officers), 8 to 12 route requires 3(1 Captain and 2 first officers) and flight under 8 hours requires 2 pilots(1 Captain and 1 First Officer). They work in shifts. Pilots can sleep in resting cabins when they are not in the hot seat.

36. Ryanair carries more international passengers than any other airline.

37. JFK Airport

The name of Idlewild Airport was changed to JFK international on 24th December 1963, a month after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

38. Thai Airways cabin crew are required to wear separate uniforms on land and in the air. They change into traditional Thai dresses in the air, while on the ground they wear a corporate purple suit.

39. Plane exhaust kills more people than plane crashes. Approximately, 10,000 people are killed annually by toxic pollutants from airplanes.

40. Every day, there are approximately 200,000 flights around the world.

41. In the 1920s, a plane ticket cost just $5!

42. On each side of the plane is an aileron, which makes the plane turn right or left.

43. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger in 1928, then solo in 1932, and the first woman to fly non-stop coast-to-coast in 1932.

44. 75% of all inflight arguments between grown adults are a result of economy passengers reclining their seats. Grow up!!

45. Only around 25% of first-class passengers pay full fare. The rest are upgrades, frequent fliers, and airline employees.

46The Height Requirements for Flight Attendants Make Sense

Height requirements for flight attendants may seem unfair to some people but there is no other reason than safety for this. Flight Attendant should be able to reach overhead compartments and safety equipment. There are weight restrictions too, which vary with airlines.

47Aircraft are designed to withstand lightning strikes and they are regularly hit Yet, lighting has not brought down an airplane since 1963.

48. White lines that planes leave in the sky are called ‘Contrails’, the trails of condensation. Same kind of stuff when you see your breath in winter.

49. Why Airplane Tires Don’t Pop on Landing? because they are designed to withstand heavy loads and are able to sustain pressures of a maximum of 800 psi before bursting. 

50. Safest Seat on the Plane

Well, there is no safest seat on an airplane. There are so many variables at play that make it impossible to figure out where to sit to survive a crash. Airplane crashes are rare and air travel is the safest form of transportation. Each air accident is unique by the way.

So these were some interesting facts about Aviation and Aircraft. Please share if you really enjoyed my article.


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5 thoughts on “50 Interesting Facts About Airplanes and Aviation You Never Knew”

  1. 32. is totally bogus. If we wanted to increase climate change how would we do it? We as humans cannot stop it or increase it… The sun has total control of our climate… And who made the sun again???

  2. hello sudhir

    I think it was actually an Indian ( marathi) who first invented unmanned aeroplane before britishers. There was film also on that in bollywood named hawaizaada

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