Trivia Teaser

Question: The first jet airplane actually existed in?
A) 1949
B) 1939
C) 1929
D) 1910

Just one week before the outbreak of World War II in August 1939, Germany flew the world’s first jet aircraft, the Heinkel He-178. The first flight of the De Havilland Comet, the world’s first jet airliner, was in late July of 1949. Nothing much happened in the year 1929, at least as far as jet powered aircraft are concerned. But in 1910, the world’s first jet aircraft flew. And it wasn’t a model, either.

The Romanian Henri Coanda, then 24, displayed his turbopropulseur airplane at an international aeronautical exhibition in October 1910, in Paris. Its front-mounted Clerget four cylinder water-cooled engine drove a centrifugal air compressor at 4000 rpm; it had no propeller. It had a controllable iris (which Coanda called an ‘obturator’) that regulated the air flow through the engine. Although its engine produced 50 horsepower and generated 450 pounds of thrust, the aircraft weighed over 900 pounds, and did not fly-at least, not there.

On December 16 in that same year at Issy-les-Moulineaux, he started his engine, intending only to taxi. After several minutes of warming up, he pushed the buttons that controlled the iris and the rotation speed of the compressor. The airplane began to move faster, and before Coanda could realize what was happening, he was airborne. He had never flown a powered aircraft however (only gliders), and he lost control of the aircraft. It struck the ground and began to burn, but he was thrown clear and survived.