4 Interesting Facts About Aviation That Even Frequent Fliers Might Not Have Heard Before

Since that fateful day in 1903 when the Wright brothers launched their first aircraft into the skies, air travel has come a long way. Nowadays, airplanes are a permanent fixture of our skies, regularly carrying countless people all around the globe. But have you ever wondered about some of the specific features that define them?

1. Why are planes painted white?

Aside from a few exceptions, commercial airplanes tend to be colored white. But why is this? Well, white paint reflects heat more effectively than other colors, and it also costs less to make. Additionally, birds can apparently identify white surfaces more easily than others, meaning they’re less likely to fly into them.

2. Why are aircraft windows round?

Rounded, oval-shaped windows weren’t always a feature of airplanes. In fact, commercial airliners were initially built with four-sided, straight-edged windows. But after a year or so of operations, these early aircraft started to fail and crash. This, it later emerged, was because pressure was mounting at the corners of the planes’ sharp-edged windows. And so they were then redesigned into a rounded shape.

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3. Why must window shades be kept open during takeoff and landing?

Many of us have heard flight attendants insisting that window shades stay open as an aircraft sets off or approaches the ground. But, as it happens, there’s an important reason for this. Speaking to The Independent newspaper in 2016, an aviation security officer named Saran Udayakumar explained, “In case of sudden emergencies, every second counts.” He added, “Therefore, if shades are open, crew can easily see outside conditions to help them in planning the evacuation.”

4. Why do planes have different nose shapes?

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It’s obvious that the noses of different aircraft vary in shape. But why is this? Well, to put it simply, it’s down to speed and visibility. The more a plane’s nose is pointed, the quicker it will be. But conversely, the longer the nose, the harder it will be for a pilot to see out of its cockpit. As such, commercial airliners tend to have shorter, more curved noses than, say, fighter jets.

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