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Any structure, machine, or contrivance, especially a vehicle, designed to be supported by the air, being borne up either by the dynamic action of the air upon the surfaces of the structure or object, or by its own buoyancy; such structures, machines, or vehicles collectively, as, fifty aircraft.
Aircraft, in its broadest meaning, includes fixed-wing airplanes, helicopters, gliders, airships, free and captive balloons, ornithopters, flying model aircraft, kites, etc., but since the term carries a strong vehicular suggestion, it is more often applied, or recognized to apply, only to such of these craft as are designed to support or convey a burden in or through the air.


This article is based on NASA's Dictionary of Technical Terms for Aerospace Use