The traditional purpose of aircraft has been to provide a means of transportation for people and cargo. In this third section, you will read about helicopters, VTOLs, and the space shuttle program. Each of these machines is designed to accomplish the task of transporting people and cargo in a very special way.
Many agencies of government are beginning to find that their missions can best be accomplished by the use of aircraft. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a branch of the United States Department of Commerce, for example, has found that specially outfitted aircraft can provide valuable information about the atmosphere and the ocean. In addition, specially equipped research aircraft are being used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to make surveys of the Earth’s surface and objects in space.
Private companies are finding that aircraft can help them in their tasks, too. The Zapata Corporation, for example, is a company that uses modern technology to good advantage. They have found a very important use for a specially equipped light plane.