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Curtiss, the pioneer of the seaplane, established his own airplane company in and was a major supplier of aircraft equipment to the U.

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On the other side of the Atlantic, Dutch-born aeronaut Anthony Herman Fokker — produced numerous planes for Germany, including the Fokker Eindecker monoplane fighter, which featured a machine gun that could fire through a moving propeller without hitting the blades. In the s, Fokker established an aircraft company in New Jersey and set about designing aircraft for the fledgling U. The first nonstop flight across the United States was made in a Fokker T-2 in Another important development during World War I was the family of engines known as Liberty engines, which featured interchangeable parts and went on to be used in civilian as well as military applications through World War II and beyond.

Commercial air passenger service began in the United States and in the world in , with a regularly scheduled flight that carried passengers between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fla. However, there was little demand for commercial aviation and it developed slowly until after World War II. The period between the two World Wars was a time for improvements in airfoils, propellers, engines, and instruments and innovations in construction techniques and materials. To regulate the aeronautic industry, the U.

Becoming Modern

The bureau moderated commercial airlines, licensed pilots, and certified aircraft. Further regulation of passenger safety, route markings, and air traffic control was provided by the Civil Aeronautics Act of and the Civil Aeronautics Board and Civil Aeronautics Administration Act Certain advancements during the s in the design and technology of aircraft gave the United States a new role in the international sphere of aviation.

Improvements in wind-tunnel testing, engine and airframe design, and maintenance equipment made for better-performing airplanes.

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As a result, private planes became less expensive and, in turn, grew in number and popularity. The development of the autopilot can be traced back to , when Elmer Sperry — introduced a type of gyrocompass that was later used in ship piloting systems magnetic compasses were unreliable in steel-hulled ships. In , Sperry's company tested a similar device for aircraft, as well as another device, the artificial horizon.

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These instruments, which enabled the pilot to fly without seeing the ground below, were rapidly installed aboard mail and commercial airplanes. Important planes of the interwar period were Boeing's , introduced in and considered to be the first modern airliner. Boeing countered with its Model Stratoliner. However, the DC-3, which went into service in , is generally considered the first commercially popular and profitable plane.

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It had a number of innovative design features, including a retractable landing gear, and with twin 1,horsepower engines it could reach a maximum speed of mph. Growing demand for passenger airline service soon pushed the aviation industry to even further advancements in passenger capacity and comfort, new elevation capabilities, and speed. Antoine de Saint Exupery on a 50 franc note. Francs were replaced by Euros in Unlike Western consumers and factory workers, who associated motor transport technologies and cultures of automobility with the individual autonomy and industrial prosperity of private car ownership, African drivers in twentieth-century Ghana used these new technologies to create comprehensive passenger transport systems that facilitated the prosperity and mobility of a wide range of entrepreneurs, from cocoa farmers to urban wage laborers.

Motor transportation had its roots in the early investments and movements of cocoa farmers in the southern Gold Coast, who used motor vehicles to bypass colonial railways and control the movement and sale of their produce. However, automobility quickly became associated with the cosmopolitanism of city life. African drivers invested in their own vehicles as individual owner-operators, based in urban areas but moving frequently between city and countryside to facilitate the movement of goods and passengers throughout the colony.

Men and women alike used motor transport technologies to pursue work in urban areas, moving away from family and elders and creating their own communities and networks of support and kinship.

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Men sought alternative forms of prosperity outside of the control of elders, working for wages, purchasing land and planting cocoa, purchasing vehicles and starting commercial motor transport businesses. Women moved into markets, taking advantage of the more efficient transport provided by the automobile to engage more directly in long-distance and wholesale trade while still maintaining their family and household responsibilities.

7. Mass Politics and the Political Challenge from the Left

The actions of drivers and passengers blurred boundaries between rural and urban space, goods and passenger transport, citizen and subject. While some of these issues were uniquely colonial problems—manifestations of the tension between British governance and African political and economic strategies—the struggle to regulate the road and the control the movement of goods and passengers changed little at independence. Drivers and passengers in postcolonial Ghana struggled just as much as their colonial forbears to secure access to infrastructure, freedom of movement, standards of practices, forms of regulation, and the cost of work.

Nationalist appropriation of motor transportation as a part of an economy of self-help, authoritarian crackdowns on the profitability of motor transport work, and contemporary debates about fuel costs and fares suggest that, while technopolitics may have been less overt, it still remained tied to a persistent faith in the rhetoric and policies of modernization and development.

In twentieth-century Ghana, the political independence and economic modernization of the s and s was only the beginning. Viewed through the lens of nationalist politics and postcolonial economic decline, the same issues of risk and profit, shortage and prosperity remained even as they took on new significance.

In the process, the entrepreneurial prosperity associated with automobility was recast in the postcolony. Drivers were either criminals who continued to pursue their own prosperity or agents of development, coopted into the neoliberal politics of national and international governing bodies. Particularly in cities like Accra, automobility created new possibilities for African residents, who used technology to craft a unique vision of city life that was rooted in the activities of mobile entrepreneurs who connected urban and rural residents in a periurban sphere of exchange.

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African mobile histories or the histories of mobile lives force us to reevaluate assumed boundaries and progressive narratives. The mobility of African drivers and passengers transgressed the boundaries between urban and rural, city and village. And in doing so, it created a uniquely Ghanaian form of automobility. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

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