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  • Travel by airplane is by far the fastest, but not the most comfortable way to go.

  • It wasn’t always like this, though.

  • Getting to lie down in a spacious bed-seat?

  • Check.

  • Full hot meals, bars, and even pianos on board?

  • Also check.

  • So what else has changed in the past 100 years of human flight?

  • The first airplane ever was the Wright Flyer made by the Wright brothers in 1903.

  • It made just a few short flights, but those changed history forever.

  • Years passed, and more diverse airplanes appeared.

  • But the first commercial airplane in history was the Model 14 Benoist airboat: it took

  • passengers from St. Petersburg to Tampa in Florida, making the journey a dozen times

  • shorter than by train or steamboat.

  • It was a rather small biplane, and no more than a toy compared to today’s huge airliners,

  • but back in 1914, it was a great commercial success.

  • But the true golden era of commercial flights began in the 1950s.

  • Let’s first take a look at one of the most typical airliners of the time: Douglas DC

  • 6.

  • It was a piston-powered aircraft with four propellers that allowed the cruising speed

  • of about 300 mph.

  • With the size of it — 100 ft long and almost 10 ft wideit’s a bit surprising that

  • it only accommodated 48 passengers.

  • For comparison, modern Airbus A320 is just 20 ft longer and 2 ft wider, but easily fits

  • 150 passengers on board.

  • Like sardines.

  • Hey, the difference is all inside.

  • Like all of its contemporaries, Douglas DC-6 was pretty much luxurious.

  • The seats were big and comfortable, with plenty of leg room.

  • They also had seat backs that could go all the way down, so you could take a hearty nap

  • if you wanted to.

  • Economy class didn’t emerge until mid-1950s, but even then the meals on board would beat

  • today’s “chicken-or-fish” a hundred times over.

  • There was a real menu and you could order whatever you wanted, be it a rib-eye steak

  • or smoked salmon.

  • Served on real plates!

  • Speaking of which, flight attendants were more of serving staff than anything else.

  • Similar to modern personnel, but called stewardesses back then, they had a strict dress code, but

  • their main task was not to ensure safety but to entertain and serve the passengers.

  • No wonderflying was still relatively new back then, and it wasn’t cheap: the

  • average price of a domestic ticket would cost you a month’s wages, and a Trans-Atlantic

  • flight was a luxury for the richest.

  • Passengers would dress up for the flight as if they were attending a social eventand

  • in a sense, they were.

  • Socializing was, in fact, the only entertainment on board apart from reading books or newspapers,

  • and unlimited food and drinks were included in the price.

  • There was no restraint of movement either; even little kids could run and play all over

  • the cabin.

  • Sounds much better than sitting in a cramped space and not having enough room to stretch

  • your legs.

  • But today’s airplanes have much more to offer in terms of entertainment: personal

  • screens with lots of movies, TV shows, and even games, magazines to read, and of course,

  • on-board shopping.

  • Some airlines have special entertainment apps you can download on your phone or tablet and

  • connect to using inflight Wi-Fi.

  • Flying itself in the 1950s was not the most pleasant of things, either.

  • Like I mentioned earlier, airplanes had piston-powered engines, just like cars, so their speed and

  • altitude were limited.

  • The same Douglas DC-6 could only reach the maximum speed of 360 mph and its ceiling was

  • 20,000 ft. Modern jet airplanes usually fly at about 480 mph, climbing as high as 39,000

  • ft above ground.

  • Low altitudes of the old airplanes meant stronger and more frequent turbulence.

  • If it were today, you’d probably get scared, especially if the airplane dropped a few hundred

  • feet, but you’d come to no harm at all with your seatbelt on.

  • Back in the day, though, fastening your seatbelt wasn’t mandatory even at takeoff, not to

  • mention during the flight.

  • So when an airplane hit a patch of turbulence, its passengers would more often than not be

  • caught off guard.

  • The shaking was so powerful at times that people would be thrown around the cabin like

  • ragdolls, which lead to injuries.

  • The engines were also awfully loud: the propellers and engines roared together to create enough

  • lift and push the aircraft forward.

  • Ever ridden in a car at its top speed with an open window?

  • The sound its engine makes can be ear-splitting, and that’s exactly what happened with aircraft

  • piston engines: the noise was as loud as a car’s and then some.

  • Another distinctive feature of the old airplanes were square windows.

  • Were all used to them being rounded at the corners, but earlier piston-powered planes

  • didn’t need those smooth lines.

  • They flew lower and slower than jets, and that made all the difference.

  • When the first jet-powered airliners appeared, though, this caused a lot of accidents.

  • Square windows are okay at relatively slow speed and low altitude, but when both these

  • values grow significantly, they simply break.

  • The difference in pressures inside the cabin and outside was high, and it hit the windows,

  • the least protected part of the plane, hard.

  • They were, of course, properly reinforced, but the engineers missed one crucial detail:

  • the corners turned out to be the weakest parts of the windows.

  • The pressure built upon them, and the fuselage around cracked, sometimes breaking the window

  • and depressurizing the whole plane as a result.

  • So the problem was eventually solved by making the windows rounded.

  • Even seat design has changed a lot towards safety.

  • Although today’s seats are so close together that you have to keep your elbows to your

  • sides most of the time, loads of space you’d get in the 1950s airplanes wouldn’t have

  • saved your life in an emergency.

  • In modern aircraft, seat backs are made so that you don’t injure your head if a particularly

  • strong shake rumbles through the plane.

  • Seats themselves now absorb more energy and remain firmly in place during an impact.

  • In the past, an accident couldve torn the seats from the floor, so you basically traded

  • safety for comfort.

  • I’d stick to safety, thank you very much.

  • Speaking of that, you know takeoff and landing are the most dangerous parts of the flight,

  • right?

  • Modern jetliners can tackle almost any distance in one go, so if there’s a direct flight

  • to your destination, youll only have one takeoff and one landing.

  • In older planes, long-haul flights often required them to make stops on the way for refueling

  • and maintenance.

  • Take Qantas, for instance: in 1947, the Australian airline introduced a route from Sydney to

  • London.

  • Today, it takes about 22 hours and one refueling stop, or there’s even a non-stop 17-hour

  • flight from Perth.

  • Back then, the flight was much more leisurely: four days with six stops, two of them overnight.

  • Would you rather fly in comfort for several days or get wherever youre going faster

  • with fewer amenities?

  • Let me know down in the comments!

  • Airplanes weren’t the only means of air travel, though.

  • Don’t forget about airships!

  • Those were slow, huge, and often dangerous.

  • The first airship appeared as early as 1852, was propelled by a steam engine, and traveled

  • at a speed of 5 mph.

  • And the real age of airships came in the early 20th century, when the German Zeppelin Company

  • made their rigid passenger-carrying dirigibles.

  • Compared to the most prominent airship of the time, even Airbus A380, the superjumbo

  • jet that dwarfs other airplanes in size, is like a fly to an elephant.

  • It’s 240 ft long and 24 ft wide, with two decks that take 79 ft in height.

  • Seems big, but the Hindenburg, the 1936 airship of the Zeppelin Company, is absolutely enormous

  • next to it.

  • Its length was 804 ft, with the width of 135 ft. Hindenburg could take as many as 72 passengers

  • and 50 crew members across the skies at a relaxing speed of 76 mph.

  • Airships couldn’t rival airplanes in speed or passenger capacity, but they were comfortable

  • and luxurious.

  • They couldve become a tourist thing kinda like cruise ships, if not for the 1937 disaster

  • of that same Hindenburg over New Jersey.

  • Filled with hydrogen.

  • Combustible.

  • Went boom.

  • Bad news.

  • The terrible accident was the alarm that halted production of passenger airships for many

  • decades.

  • Today, though, there’s plenty of talk about the return of the giant dirigibles.

  • In about 5 years, for example, the first airship will take a hundred passengers on a North

  • Pole expedition.

  • It uses helium.

  • Not combustible.

  • No boom.

  • Good news.

  • And although it won’t be so much an expedition, but rather a luxury cruise for the wealthy

  • (the tickets cost $80,000), the new airship still marks the rebirth of the great flying

  • palaces.

  • Hey, if you learned something new today, then give the video a like and share it with a

  • friend!

  • And here are some other videos I think you'll enjoy.

  • Just click to the left or right, and stay on the Bright Side of life!

Travel by airplane is by far the fastest, but not the most comfortable way to go.

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/06
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