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The year 2003 marks the centenary of aviation. A hundred years ago, on December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright set off on the first powered airplane flight. This date marked a leap into a new era of global mobility. And it opened up technological competition between industrial nations all over the world, which soon defined themselves as aviation nations.

Aviation history had in fact been made in Germany by Otto Lilienthal 12 years before the Wrights. Lilienthal soon translated his pioneering aerodynamic calculations and experiments into his first aircraft just outside Berlin. And the Wright brothers incorporated Lilienthal's findings into their own flyer and engine developments. But it was the Wrights who helped aviation achieve its first major breakthrough with their powered flights and many demonstrations at the first successful flight exhibitions early in the last century.

Afterwards, the technological development of aviation came to be headed by prominent German pioneers such as Hugo Junkers, Claude Dornier, Willy Messerschmitt and Hans-Joachim Papst von Ohain. This Internet portal on the history of aviation documents the achievements of such outstanding figures. It also presents the main developments and projects of the German aerospace industry ever since Lilienthal in a manner specially tailored for the Internet.

Germany remains involved in major future projects, such as the development and production of the Airbus A380 superjumbo and the construction of the International Space Station.


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