And the answer: English.
Known as Aviation English, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommended English as the universal language of the sky. For safety and efficiency in air travel, all pilots must demonstrate proficiency in Aviation English in order to fly.
From the earliest gliders to the most recent space flight, aviation has transformed the way humans interact with the world and each other. Each November, National Aviation History Month rolls around to celebrate the innovation and contributions of American men and women in the field of aviation. In addition to the entire month dedicated to the invention of flight, National Aviation Day is also celebrated on August 19, a holiday established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. However, due to the detailed and exemplary history of aviation, an entire month was eventually dedicated.
Throughout early history, scientists and inventors studied the flight of birds and other winged creatures in the hopes of understanding the mystery of flight. Although kites emerged in 5th century China, Leonardo da Vinci created the first drafts for a rational aircraft in the early 15th century, and Tito Livio Burattini even developed a model aircraft featuring four pairs of glider wings in 1647, each early glider or flying invention was too fragile and light to support the weight of a human. During the 18th century, hot air balloons and blimps began to rise in popularity, but citizens who enjoyed flying in them soon realized how little maneuverability the machines offered. Ultimately, it wasn’t until much later (Wilbur and Orville Wright’s 1903 liftoff, to be exact) that a functional airplane prototype emerged for the first time.
Aircraft were soon adopted for military purposes to great effect. They were first used in active combat on a large scale in World War I, which played a decisive role in the war’s outcome. France became the leading aircraft manufacturer during the war, producing over 68,000 airplanes between 1914 and 1918. During World War II, nearly all nations increased their production and development of aircraft and flight-based systems. The military used fighter bombers, strategic bombers, dive bombers, and ground-attack aircraft.
Did you know?
It’s National Aviation History Month! The first transatlantic flight took place in 1919, and was operated by the U.S. Navy. Unlike the easy 8+ hours it takes today, however, the flight took 24 days! Learn more about the history of flight here.