For centuries, people dreamed of being able to fly like birds. Leonardo da Vinci had sound ideas but it was centuries before pioneers like Lawrence Hargrave produced machines that obtained lift from the air. Numerous people in various countries tried variations but it was the Wright brothers in the US who were the first to succeed in have a machine carry a human in a flight. This was a start to the twentieth century. Rapid progress followed as understanding of aerodynamics and engineering aided the race in many countries to build bigger, faster and longer flying aircraft. Military requirements provided much of the early boost for the rising aircraft industries but developments for commercial use really took over in the middle of the century. Airliners now dominate traffic in the skies and many people enjoy rapid transit around the globe for business and pleasure activities.
Very few of the passengers in these airliners give a moments thought to the reality that airliners are an artificial, parasitic species that is doomed for extinction this century. Many clever people have made contributions to the design, construction and operation of airliners such as the Boeing Dreamliner and the A380 Airbus. But these aircraft use jet fuel, processed from oil. The supply of this natural bounty is irreversibly running out and no viable alternative is practical. Bio-fuels can fill only a niche role at the expense of meeting other needs, including food. But lack of fuel will not be the only factor leading to the demise of the artificial bird. Aircraft are made of a range of materials gleaned from the crustal store and many of these are also becoming beyond reach rapidly. So our emulation of birds is doomed because we could not come up with a means to emulate nature's slow but reliable means of generating such natural resources as oil. The skills of the aerodynamicists, designers, machinists, management, pilots and others in the aeronautics fields will become surplus to requirements as society at large tries to cope with the inevitable powering down as the infrastructure of civilization collapses. Society at large will not be happy with the withdrawal of the service currently provided by the airlines. And the military will have to reduce their dependence on aircraft, including drones.
Cars, container vessels, computers and numerous other devices that society has become dependent on will also become become fond memories for those who survive the inevitable loss of much of the essentials, food, potable water, shelter, heating, air conditioning, health services and sanitation. The disintegration of the cities will be a reminder of the fact that humans could not successfully use up the limited natural material wealth that had evolved over eons at such a high rate.They will have to power down and try to live with what nature can still provide.