Like it or not, the fortunes of aviation, including light, personal flying, are linked to the technologies that provide the motive force for our gravity-defying feats. It’s nothing new. Finding suitable propulsion was arguably the Wright brothers’ biggest obstacle leading up to, and even long after, their Kitty Hawk adventure. The one specialist they had on retainer was none other than internal combustion engine pioneer Charlie Taylor. Taylor’s first aircraft engine, built to order for the Wright Flyer, weighed 160 pounds and produced 12 horsepower, a tremendous power-to-weight ratio at the time. While it seemed revolutionary then, aircraft engines would get unimaginably more capable over the next few decades as new technologies leap-frogged the old and helped drive aircraft performance and design to (literally) new heights.
Here are seven engines—and one motor—that changed the game.