Aviation Safety Inventions are Timeless

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Aviation, particularly aerospace, has created many innovations in the pursuit of many higher, faster and safer engineering goals. The NASA Space program is probably the best example of unintended practical applications to civilian uses. No, not the commonly cited space advancements such as Tang and Teflon, but major advancements such as LED lights, artificial limbs, anti-icing systems, grooved runways and many more spinoffs from the Space Agency’s research.

Just in time for the holidays, AOPA has published a fascinating article about chronometers and how their history intertwined with aviation. The author includes a beautiful photograph of the Breitling AOPA watch and mentions the value of the Lindbergh name to a Longines watch from its 1931initial sales until today. The 1909 story of Louis Bleriot’s Zenith wristwatch with a luminous face, large numbers and a crown which made it easier to see is another point along this timeline.

Actually the watch was a byproduct of early aviation. Brazilian bon vivant and early aviator, Albert Santos-Dumont created the 14-biz in Paris, France. He was able to operate the above pictured vehicle in a straight line (thus the argument whether First Flight must include controlled flight). The intrepid pilot was attempting to set records for time in flight and while flying he would try to pull his watch fob from its pocket and determine whether he had beaten the past standard. His friend, Louis Cartier, heard his friend lament the inconvenience and inspired by Santos-Dumont’s needs, Cartier created the first men’s wristwatch (above left). The acceptance of the new product was enhanced by the press pictures of the aviator with the strange band on his wrist. Once men learned what it was, they flocked to Mr. Cartier’s store to buy this elegant consumer good.

Clearly an unexpected side benefit from man’s efforts to fly. The good news is that the invention contributes today to aviation safety.

Next to the original Santos watch is a picture of the current version. You can go to your local store and pick one up for a mere $18,000.

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