Trivia about Aviation
At about 10:35 in the morning of 17th December, 1903 Orville Wright made the first powered flight in a fully controllable aircraft, which the Wright brothers designed and developed. The flight lasted just 12 seconds and stretched only 120 feet. In the next few hours however, Wilbur and Orville made four flights, the longest was 852 feet. After the fourth flight, a gust of wind rolled the aircraft over and smashed it.
The success of the Wright brothers in launching an aircraft into the air became the cornerstone for the variety of early designs of aircrafts. Dr. Claudius Dornier of Germany pioneered in the design and development of seaplanes.
Perhaps the most dramatic flying boat ever built was the giant Dornier Do X. Conceived by Dr. Claudius Dornier, the Do X design took seven years to complete and two years to build. The giant flying boat was finally launched on July 12th, 1929. Financed by the German transport ministry, the plane was built on the Swiss portion of Altenrhein in order to avoid the Allied Commission. When completed, the Do X was the largest, heaviest and most powerful aircraft in the world.
On October 21 st, the plane took off carrying 160 people consisting of 150 passengers, 10 crew and 9 stowaways, easily breaking the world record for the number of people aboard a flight. A record that would not be tested for 15 years. Weighing 48 tons, the plane taxied for 50 seconds before slowly ascending to only 650 feet. It flew for 40 minutes at a maximum speed of 105 mph finally landing on Lake Constance.
The luxurious accommodations and service on the Do X were in keeping with the standards of trans-Atlantic liners. Several cabins on the main deck held passenqers comfortably on 32 double seats and two single seats, while the cockpit, captain’s cabin, navigational office, engine control room and radio office could be found on the upper deck along with quarters for the 14 man crew. The lower deck held fuel and stores.
The plane was enormous with a wingspan of 157 feet 5 inches, a length of 134 feet 2 inches and a height of 33 feet. As a result of the massiveness of the plane, passengers were asked to crowd together on one side to help the flying boat make turns! The plane had an all-metal hull with wings comprised of a metal framework covered in fabric. Powered by twelve 525 horsepower Siemens Jupiter engines mounted in tandem on the wing, the plane was designed to carry 66 passengers on long distances or 100 on short trips. The Jupiter engines were only able to lift the plane to an altitude of 1,400 feet, preventing the plane from making trans-Atlantic crossings. After completing 103 flights in 1903, the plane was refitted with water-cooled Curtiss Conqueror engines at 610 horsepower each. On the August 4, 1930 flight, newly fitted with Curtiss engines, the plane reached 1,650 feet, a height that was deemed suitable to cross the Atlantic.
The Do X took off from Freidrichshafen, Germany on November 2, 1930 commencing its trans-Atlantic proving flight. The route took the Do X to Lisbon, down the Western African coast, across the Atlantic to South America, and north to the United States finally reaching New York on August 27, 1931. The final leg of the trip began again on May 21, 1932 from New York to Newfoundland, on to the Azores, and finally to Berlin where the Do X was met by a cheering crowd of 200,000.
Two other Do X planes, the Do X2 and X3, were completed and delivered to Italy in 1931. Because of their monstrous weight, all three planes were deemed unsuitable for commercial flight. The Do X was retired to the Berlin Air Museum in 1934 and was destroyed by an Allied air raid in 1943. The X2 and X3 were used primarily by the Italian military for prestige flights but were quickly retired from service in 1934. While the Do X was not a commercial success, it was an important experiment in early aviation. It remains, by its sheer physical strength and size, one of the most extraordinary seaplanes in history.
After the Do X, re-designs came to being with the 0024 as the most prominent among them. In the forties, the airplane was developed further to DO-24TT which was put into commission as flight boat for sea rescue. Although the DO-24TT retained its physical appearance resembling that of a whale, it is actually a prototype and modified in accordance with recent know-how in the field of amphibian aeroplanes. The DO-24TT was an upgraded variation of the Dornier seaplanes and a product of extensive research project. On the 25th of July 2003, Southeast Asian Airlines, Inc., through its Chairman of the Board and grandson of Dr. Claudius Dornier, Mr. Iren Dornier, acquired the remaining units of the DO-24TT with the intention to put the same into commercial operation. This acquisition marks a lot of firsts in the Philippine aviation industry as the first high-powered, high-capacity seaplane to operate commercially in the Philippines, first Asian country to play host to such an historical seaplane, among other things.