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Introduction to Aerospace Materials by A Mouritz

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17

Wood in small aircraft construction

17.1 Introduction

The first structural material used in powered aircraft was wood. The mainframe of Kitty Hawk flown by the Wright brothers in 1903 was made from timber covered with fabric. Wood was the material of choice in early aircraft because of its good strength-to-weight ratio. Also, wood can be easily crafted and shaped into spars and beams for the fuselage, wings and other structures. Wood was the most used structural material in aircraft until the introduction of high-strength aluminium and steel in the 1920s. The use of wood in large modern aircraft is now nonexistent, although it remains a useful material in the construction of small aircraft; notably guilders, ultralights, aerobatic aircraft ...

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