Modern

Ever wondered how an ejection seat works, or how to ride a hot air balloon? This section explores modern jet mechanics and aircraft operations and components.

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When it comes to the question of the fastest fighter jet, you can choose to compare only those fighter jets that are still in service, or you can consider every last jet fighter that's ever graced the skies — and we've chosen to go with the latter.

By Marie Look

Air travel is far more than getting from point A to point B safely. How much do you know about the million little details that go into flying on airplanes?

By Alia Hoyt

HowStuffWorks explains how physics helps animals get airborne.

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Since 1948, more than 100 aircraft have gone missing while aloft and never been found. How is this possible? We'll look at some of these unsolved mysteries, as well as other bizarre airline mishaps.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Flight has been a human dream for centuries. It wasn't until the dawn of the 20th century that man was finally able to leave the ground. This gallery highlights some of the milestones in aviation.

By Rick Mayda

Your luggage gets "mishandled" by an airline and favorite pieces of your wardrobe, souvenirs and toiletries disappear into a black abyss. Or do they? Actually, your wardrobe is hanging out in Scottsboro, Ala., and it has some interesting company.

By Sarah Dowdey

The first commercial jetliners had square windows. So why did engineers change the design to the rounded windows we know today?

By Sharise Cunningham

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For some in-flight routines and procedures, autopilots are even better than a pair of human hands. They don't just make flights smoother -- they make them safer and more efficient.

By William Harris

Length, height and wingspan are all popular ways to rank an aircraft, but truly giant planes are often judged by their maximum takeoff weight. Which plane outlifts them all?

By Julia Layton

The only passenger plane that flies faster than the speed of sound, and can get from New York to London in less than four hours, is calling it quits. Learn how this amazing plane works.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

Although the amount of fuel may seem high, when you do the math, it's actually not so bad.

By Talon Homer

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Contrails are those long white clouds that form in the wake of an airplane flying at altitude. What causes these contrails and what are they made of? Learn the answer to this question in this article from HowStuffWorks.

I would like to know how airplanes can fly upside down and do loops. How does the fuel get to the engine if the plane is upside down?

Do commercial jets have locks on the doors and ignition keys? If not, what keeps someone from stealing them?

When flushing the toilet in a passenger airplane, I'm amazed by the huge noise it makes -- like a powerful vacuum cleaner. Can you explain what makes this noise?

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Ever wonder what's happening inside that huge jet engine as you're cruising along at 30,000 feet? Jets, helicopters and even some power plants use a class of engine called gas turbines, which produce their own pressurized gas to spin a turbine and create power.

By Marshall Brain

How does a speedometer in an airplane work?

Afterburners allow a jet plane to take off from a short runway, such as the deck of an aircraft carrier. What, exactly, is an afterburner and how do they work? Learn the answer to this question in this article from HowStuffWorks.

Blimps combine the simple buoyancy of a hot air balloon with the technology of an airplane. Learn all about these lighter-than-air vehicles.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

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Hot air balloons are about as simple as flying can get — no engine, no moving parts really, and very little the pilot can do to control the vehicle. Find out what it's like to fly a hot air balloon!

By Tom Harris

Flying in a glider is about as close as you can get to soaring like a bird. Amazingly, these graceful machines manage their maneuvers without an engine. Learn how gliders fly without power.

By Marshall Brain & Brian Adkins

How do you start a gas turbine engine? What is the mechanism to begin the rotation of the large fan blades?

Airline pilots have an amazing job with huge responsibilities. Learn what it's like to be a pilot and what it takes to make it in this highly competitive profession.

By Joel Freeman

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Black boxes help investigators determine what happened in an airplane accident. What's inside a black box and how does it record flight data?

By Kevin Bonsor & Nathan Chandler

Believe it or not, the marvel we know as the helicopter began as a Chinese top consisting of a shaft — a stick — adorned with feathers on one end.

By Tom Harris & Talon Homer