History of Flight from Around the World
The tradition of Greek aviation begins in Greek mythology. In the palace of Knossos in Crete, King Minos was holding captive Daidalus, an ingenius engineer and architect who had designed the palace. The only way for Daidalus and his son Icarus to escape the palace was to fly away using wings made of feathers and wax. However, during the flight to freedom, Icarus disobeyed his father's instructions and flew too close to the sun, which melted his wings. The sea where he crashed and met his death was named Icarian and is part of the Aegean.
True Greek aviation began much later-in 1911 when the Ministry of Military requested applications from officers to be trained in aviation. Four officers were selected and trained in France while the first military aircraft was ordered from the French firm, Farman. Several records were achieved in the next few years, including a world record flying height of 3,100 meters in 1912 and a speed record of 110 kilometers per hour in a hydroplane that same year. Additionally, Greeks took part in the first naval cooperation mission in history above the Dardanelles in January of 1913 during the Balkan Wars.
Greek military aviators participated in many other wars, including the Hellenic-Turkish War (1919), World Wars I and II, and Korea. Today, the Hellenic Armed Forces, equipped with the most technologically advanced aircraft, continues that tradition.
Emm. Argyropoulos, the first Greek civilian pilot, flew above thousands of spectators in his Nieuport aircraft in 1912 in the first ever flight in Greece. In 1931, the first laws regulating air traffic and air transportation were created. In 1939 the first Hellenic aviation company connected several Greek cities, and by 1957, there were several aviation companies operating in Greece. In 1957, Olympic Airways was created, incorporating all the previous civil aviation companies. In 1975, ownership of Olympic Airways passed from Aristotles Onassis to the Hellenic government. Today, several private commercial airline/airtransport companies are based in Greece and continue to operate and expand, making the field a competitive market place.
The Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) was founded in 1975 and today ranks among the largest and most advanced aircraft and engine support centers in Europe, with more than 130 business cooperations with a wide range of global customers.
Originally provided to AIAA for its Evolution of Flight Campaign, 2003.
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