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heavier-than-air (comparative form only)

  1. (of an aircraft) Weighing more than the volume of air which it displaces.
    • 1914, Victor Appleton, chapter 1, in Tom Swift And His Photo Telephone:
      And folks laughed at Santos Dumont, at the Wrights, and at all the other fellows, who said they could take a heavier-than-air machine, and skim above the clouds like a bird.
  2. Of, pertaining to, or using an aircraft which weighs more than the volume of air it displaces.
    • 1952, "Milestones," Time, 10 Mar.,
      Died. John Thomas Moore, 65, who, on a windy day in December 1903, lent a hand putting a flying machine on a runway, was the last surviving witness to the Wright brothers' historic first heavier-than-air flight at Kitty Hawk.