Adults get jaded. We lose our wonder. But you can get it back! Just look at the world around you with clear eyes and you’ll see all the incredible things which, even just a few hundred years ago, would have blow the mind of any observer. Nowhere is this more true than with airplanes. We can fly - human beings can fly! Remind yourself of how incredible that is, and you’ll start to understand just why it is that kids get so jazzed up about airplanes. Adults should take notes.
When it comes to airplanes and flying there are many ways to fan your child’s or student’s enthusiasm. Some kids want to jump right in and start building paper airplanes, others become interested in paper airplane engines. And sometimes - for the most (initially) bookish - all that’s needed is some interesting information. All varieties of curiosity are good and, probably, a combination of hands-on plus information is best.
But what information or resources can parents and teachers share that won’t put kids to sleep or, worse, turn them off to airplanes all-together…Very simple answer: Start with the fun stuff.
Especially in the beginning, we shouldn’t worry about telling young people deflating things like “being a pilot is hard” or you “have to pay attention.” Perhaps those things are true, but their place does not come at the BEGINNING of a child's journey to the skies. Instead, keeps things light early on by simply sharing with your kids all the cool airplanes and cool spaceships out there or by telling them about history’s coolest aviators. If excitement leads, learning will follow.
Along those lines, here are 10 fun facts about airplanes that parents and teachers can share to help get kids excited.
1: The world’s first successful airplane flight occurred on December 17, 1903. That was when Wilbur and Orville Wright flew their famous “Flyer”—which had a 12 horse power engine and weighed approximately 600 pounds—for 12 seconds over a distance of 120 feet at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
2: The Wright Brothers flew their Flyer a total of four times. On the fourth flight, Wilbur Wright circled the field one and a half times and reached an altitude of 89 feet (27 meters). That flight lasted 59 seconds!
3: Some airplanes have the ability to refuel while in the air! Refueling jets can connect two hoses while they are flying side by side at 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour).
4: Airplanes use something called lift to stay in the sky. Lift is an invisible force created when air flows quickly across the wings, making them push upwards and keep the airplane up in the sky.
5: The largest airplane ever built is called the Antonov An-225 Mriya. It was designed and built in Ukraine in 1988 primarily to transport parts of the Soviet space shuttle program. This airplane has six engines, 32 wheels for landing gear, and a wingspan about twice as long as a football field!
6: The NASA X-15 rocketplane holds the speed record for an airplane. It reached a top speed of 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 kilometers per hour) in 1967!
7: The solar impulse 2 is the world’s first solar-powered airplane. This amazing aircraft completed its mission to circumnavigate the globe powered only by energy from the sun!
8: The first female pilot was a woman named Raymonde de Laroche. She was the first woman to ever receive an airplane pilot’s license in 1910.
9: Today’s airplanes can fly much higher than they used to—modern jetliners regularly reach 39,000 feet (11,887 meters) above the Earth. That’s more than seven miles!
10: The most expensive airplane in the world is a private jet called the Airbus A380, owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. It is estimated to be worth around $500 million!
Airplanes are amazing machines and they are capable of doing incredible things! Kids everywhere should be excited about aviation—it’s one of the most incredible inventions of all time. So next time your kid or student brings up airplanes, don’t forget to share some fun facts with them to get them even more interested in this amazing technology. Who knows – maybe one day they will fly their very own airplane? The sky’s the limit!
Looking for more kid-friendly flying resources, here you go: