- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 24, 2000

Some say Santa's use of magical reindeer would be considered the first recorded instance of man soaring above the earth, but according to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the first human flight was by Frangois Pilbtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes, who flew over Paris in a hot air balloon in 1783.
This organization has spent the past 37 years highlighting the work of its 31,000 members in the fields of physics, engineering, flight dynamics, aircraft design, propulsion and space exploration. It recently released a special Web site tracing man's achievements in the air as Americans near the 100-year anniversary of the Wright brothers' historic use of an aircraft on Dec. 17, 1903.


Site address: www.flight100.org


The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a nonprofit technical society serving the aerospace profession, was established in 1963 and is headquartered in Reston.

Creator quotable:

"We created this site not only to honor the invention of the first successful, manned, controlled, heavier-than-air, powered flight by the Wright brothers, but also to highlight the history and achievements of flight well before and after 1903," says Cort Durocher, AIAA executive director."Through the site, we hope to provide information to our members and the public about our campaign programs and educate them about the historic importance as well as the excitement of aviation and space."

Word from the Webwise:

The AIAA has put together a concise and visually stunning site to honor man's achievements in the world of aviation. A slick, Shockwave-enhanced opening reminds viewers of historic moments of flight through pictures, including images of the new International Space Station, man walking on the moon, and stealth aircraft as text sweeps across the computer screen.
This introduction leads to the front page, which is enhanced with blue hues and loaded with educational opportunities for the aviator in the family.
Visitors looking for a compact chronology of man's airborne antics should click on the "History of Flight" section to reveal not only an animated time line of events, but 19 countries' adventures in aviation, nine pioneer profiles and a special feature exhaustively explaining the evolution of the helicopter.
Among the many highlights to this area, visitors will learn of the adventures of National Aviation Hall of Fame pilot Jacqueline Cochran, who, flying an F-86 in 1953, was the first woman to break the sound barrier. Also, Franklin D. Roosevelt, aboard a Boeing 314 in 1943, became the first sitting president to complete a wartime flight, and Greece broke the world record for flying height, 3,100 meters, in 1912.
Another section that will appeal to the visually minded, "Image Gallery," offers 24 moments in time, ranging from the space shuttle riding piggyback on a NASA 747 jet to U.S. Air Force's Tuskegee Army Field pilots posing in front of a Curtiss P-40 to Charles A. Lindbergh with his Spirit of St. Louis.

Ease of use:

The site has been around less than a year, and content needs to be increased. However, the framework is in place for a definitive history stop. Kimberly Grant, the program specialist to the site, says she will be adding more aviator profiles, interactive cockpits and a Wright Flyer simulator in the next six months. Overall, Flight100.org mixes current technology with appealing visuals, making for an enjoyable and easily navigable adventure.

Don't miss:

Visitors should stop by the "Click and Learn" section to find a Shockwave-fueled presentation on how three primary movements pitch, roll and yaw help pilots control an aircraft. Children can click on text of these actions to watch a model of the space shuttle go through the motions. One other simulation worth a mention involves clicking onto parts of a flight cabin from a Boeing 777 to understand the components.

Family activity:

Visitors can duplicate the Viking lander's testing of Martian soil for signs of life through the use of some common household products including sand, yeast, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using clear containers and these products, junior scientists can combine ingredients, refrigerate the test mixtures (simulating Martian climate) and observe the results.
This experiment, found under "Click and Learn," is explained fully and is just one of five off-line projects. Others include building an edible Wright Flyer and learning about jet propulsion with balloons.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

Middle school students and older students interested in reaching the stars will find plenty of reasons while exploring this wonderful evolution of aviation.
Overall grade: B+
Remember: The information on the Internet is changing constantly. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician. Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]).

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