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3500 BC
King Etena of Babylonia was pictured on a coin, flying on an eagle’s back.
Links: Babylon, Aviation, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1000 BC
The Chinese invented kites about this time that could carry scouts on reconnaissance missions.
Links: China, Aviation, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1505
Leonardo da Vinci’s “Codex on the Flight of Birds” dated to about this time.
Links: Italy, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1522
Albrecht Durer, German artist and engraver, designed a flying machine for use in war.
Links: Artist, Germany, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1783 Nov 21
Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier (1754-1785) and the Marquis d’Arlandes made the first free-flight ascent in a balloon, to over 500 feet, in Paris.
Links: France, Aviation, Balloon     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1794 Jun 26
The French defeated an Austrian army at the Battle of Fleurus. The French used a tethered balloon to observe the battlefield and direct artillery fire.
Links: Austria, France, Aviation, Balloon     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1849
Rufus Porter, founder and first editor of Scientific American, proposed an aerial locomotive to carry up to 100 passengers from New York to California in three days. He built a 700-foot model but a rowdy crowd destroyed its hydrogen gas bag before it could be launched.
Links: USA, New York, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1867 Apr 16
Wilbur Wright (d.1912), aeronautical inventor, was born in Dayton, Ohio.
Links: USA, Ohio, Aviation, Inventor     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1868
Matthew Boulton obtained a British patent on a design for ailerons as control surfaces.
Links: Britain, Aviation, Patent     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1869 Jul 4
Frederick Marriott flew his unmanned Aviator Hermes Jr. over a field near Millbrae and Burlingame. The machine was a gasbag filled with hydrogen, and a steam engine turning rotors with attached delta wings guided by men on the ground with ropes.
Links: USA, Aviation, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1871 Aug 19
Orville Wright (d.1948), aviation pioneer, was born in Dayton, Oh. His birthday is celebrated as National Aviation Day.
Links: USA, Ohio, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1878
Bishop Wright gave his sons, Orville and Wilbur, a toy helicopter.
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1883 Aug 28
John Montgomery (b.1858) made the first manned, controlled flight in the US in his "Gull" glider, whose design was inspired by watching birds. The craft weight 38 pounds and flew to 15 feet for at least 300 feet at Otay Mesa near San Diego, Ca. In 1911 Montgomery died in a glider crash.
Links: USA, California, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1884
Horatio Phillips of England designed a wing with a curved airfoil shape.
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1889 May 25
Igor Sikorsky, aviation engineer, was born in Russia. He moved to America in 1919 and developed the first successful helicopter.
Links: Russia, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1896 May 6
Samuel P. Langley (1834-1906), American physicist and aviation pioneer, launched the first reasonably large, steam-powered model aircraft.
Links: USA, Aviation, Physics     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1899 May 30
Wilbur Wright (1867-1912), Ohio bicycle mechanic, wrote the Smithsonian Institution and affirmed his belief that human flight was possible.
Links: USA, Ohio, Aviation, Inventor     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1900 Oct
The Wright Brothers began active flying experiments at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Their first glider was a biplane that soared for 300 feet.
Links: USA, Aviation, North Carolina     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1901
The Wright Brothers constructed new wings for a large glider using existing aerodynamics tables. The flight was marginal so they tested the tables by analyzing model wings in a wind tunnel. The tables proved to be wrong and they painstakingly computer new ones.
Links: USA, Ohio, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1901
Gustave Whitehead, a German-born aviator and resident of Bridgeport, Conn., reportedly made the first powered airplane flight, two years before the Wright brothers. In 2013 Connecticut went on record acknowledging Whitehead’s flight. Ohio and North Carolina both disputed the Connecticut claim.
Links: USA, Aviation, Connecticut     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1902 Feb 4
Charles Lindbergh (d.1974), the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic (1927), was born in Detroit and grew up in Minnesota.
Links: USA, Minnesota, Aviation, Michigan     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1902
The Wright Brothers built a glider based on their new aerodynamics tables. Efficiency was almost doubled and they made over 1,000 flights at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, NC.
Links: USA, Ohio, Aviation, North Carolina     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1903 Oct 18
In San Francisco Dr. August Greth flew his 80-foot-long American Eagle airship over the city. Its engine stalled and the wind carried it over the bay where it plummeted into the water. He and his assistant were recovered by soldiers from Fort Point.
Links: USA, Aviation, SF     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1903 Dec 8
Samuel P. Langley’s man-carrying Great Aerodrome collapsed right after takeoff from a houseboat on the Potomac River.
Links: USA, Aviation, DC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1903 Dec 17
The Wright brothers' Flyer I flew for 12 seconds in the first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The plane used an aluminum engine designed by their Dayton mechanic Charlie Taylor. The brothers were the sons of a Dayton, Ohio, bishop (Church of the United Brethren). Orville Wright made the first powered, controlled and sustained flight. Orville, lying prone at the 605-pound plane's controls, flew a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds. Wilbur ran beside Flyer's wing tip until it was airborne to keep the wing from dragging in the sand. Four sustained flights were made on this day. The 4th flight lasted fifty-nine seconds. The day’s events received little press attention, since the reticent Wright brothers feared their ideas would be stolen by rival aviators. It was not until 1908, after making many refinements to their flying machine, that the Wrights embarked on a series of public demonstrations that finally earned them worldwide acclaim. A one-hour PBS documentary covered their life as part of "The American Experience." In 2015 David McCullough authored “the Wright Brothers.”
Links: USA, Ohio, Aviation, North Carolina, Biography     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1904 Sep 15
Wilbur Wright made his 1st controlled half-circle while in flight with Flyer II. On Sep 20 he flew a full circle for the first time.
Links: USA, Ohio, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1904
Glenn Curtiss, a motorcycle builder in Hammondsport, NY, began making gasoline-burning aircraft engines for dirigibles that San Francisco daredevil Thomas Scott Baldwin was building in California. Baldwin flew a 54-foot dirigible equipped with a motorcycle engine and is credited with for building the first successful American dirigible.
Links: USA, New York, Aviation, SF     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1905 Dec 24
Howard Hughes (d.1976), American industrialist, film producer, director and aviator, was born.
Links: USA, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1905
The Wright Brother’s Flyer III became the world’s first practical airplane, but attracted little attention.
Links: USA, Ohio, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1907 Nov 13
The 1st helicopter was piloted by French engineer Paul Cornu (1881-1944). The copter hovered a foot off the ground for 20 seconds [see Apr 12, 1905].
Links: France, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1907
H.G. Wells (1866-1946) authored “The War in the Air.” It was serialized and published in 1908. It is notable for its prophetic ideas, images, and concepts, such as the use of the airplane for the purpose of warfare and the coming of World War I.
Links: USA, Writer, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1907
Glenn Curtiss, of New York, joined with Alexander Graham Bell, F.W. Baldwin, Thomas Selfridge, and John McCurdy, working in Nova Scotia, to found the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) to developing a practical flying machine.
Links: Canada, USA, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1908 Mar 12
The Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) launched their new airplane, called Red Wing, from a frozen lake near Hammondsport, NY. Pilot F.W. Baldwin rose 20 feet and flew 319 feet before crashing. Newspapers hailed the test as the “first public flight” in the US.
Links: USA, New York, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1908 May 21
The Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) launched their 2nd airplane, called White Wing, equipped with aelerons, a mechanism proposed by Alexander Graham Bell, to steer the craft. Pilot Glenn Curtiss flew over 1000 feet and landed safely.
Links: USA, New York, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1908 May 23
In the SF Bay Area John Morrell and his crew boarded their 485-foot airship in a field near Berkeley High School. The ship’s gas bag burst at 300-feet and the 20 men aboard plunged to the ground. 9 were seriosuly injured but no one died.
Links: USA, Aviation, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1908 Jul 4
Glenn Curtiss flew a new airplane, called the June Bug, at a competition sponsored by Scientific American, for the first heavier than air machine to fly one kilometer. The Aero Club sent 22 members to Hammondsport, NY, to view the event. Curtiss easily covered the distance, angering the Wright Brothers, who felt that their patent was being infringed.
Links: USA, , New York, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1908 Dec
The Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) took out patents on ailerons and in March 1809 the group disbanded.
Links: USA, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Jan 17
Wilbur and Orville Wright opened the world’s first flying school at Pau, France, and refused to accept women as students.
Links: France, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Jul 17
Glenn Curtiss entered and won the Scientific American trophy for a 2nd year by flying a total of 25 km. in 12 circuits on Long Island. His Golden Flier was sponsored by the Aeronautic Society of New York.
Links: USA, New York, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Jul 25
French aviator Louis Bleriot (1872-1936) made the first crossing of the English Channel from Calais to the grounds of Dover Castle in a powered aircraft, winning a £1,000 prize offered by the London Daily Mail. Piloting his Type XI monoplane at an average of 39 miles per hour, Blériot made the trip of 23.2 miles in just under 36 minutes.
Links: Britain, France, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1909 Aug 2
The Wright Flyer was formally accepted by the US Army in exchange for $30,000. It was designated Signal Corps Airplane No. 1, the world’s first military airplane.
Links: USA, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Aug 28
American Glenn Curtiss won the James Gordon Bennett Cup at the first major international air show held in Rheims France.
Links: USA, France, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Oct 2
Orville Wright set an altitude record, flying at 1,600 feet. This exceeded Hubert Latham's previous record of 508 feet.
Links: USA, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Oct 2
Raymonde de Larouche (1882-1919), Franch actress, flew a Voisin airplane during a taxiing lesson under Gabriel Voisin at Chalons, establishing the first recorded flight by a woman.
Links: France, Women, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Nov 22
The Wright brothers formed a corporation for the commercial manufacture of airplanes. Cornelius Vanderbilt and other financiers backed them with one million dollars.
Links: USA, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1909 Dec 28
The first manned, controlled, powered flight in the whole continent of Africa and the entire southern hemisphere was successfully carried out by the Frenchman Albert Kimmerling (d.6/12/1912) at East London, South Africa using a Voisin bi-plane.
Links: France, South Africa, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1910 Jan 24
Louis Paulhan, French aviator, made an aerial display at the Tanforan Race Track in San Bruno, Ca., before a crowd of 75,000. He flew his biplane 1,300 (700) feet high at 70 mph. Earlier he took William Randolph Hearst for a ride.
Links: USA, France, Aviation, SF Bay Area, Journalism     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1910 Oct 11
The San Francisco Rotary Club offered a $10,000 prize to the aviator who first flies from SF to New York.
Links: USA, Aviation, SF     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1911 Jan 7
Aviator James Radley, operating a French Bleriot airplane, performed over South San Francisco, skimmed the the West Virginia, the flagship of Rear-Admiral Barry, and checked the time of San Francisco Ferry Tower clock on both sides.
Links: USA, Aviation, SF, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1911 Jan 15
An explosive bomb was dropped from an airplane during an aviation meet in South San Francisco. The plane was about 400 feet high and the bomb dropped within 10 feet of its target.
Links: USA, Aviation, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1911 Jan 18
Naval aviation was born when pilot Eugene B. Ely flew a Curtis Pusher biplane onto the deck of the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay.
Links: USA, Aviation, SF Bay Area, Ship     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1911 Jul
Glenn Curtiss sold a seaplane with retractable wheels to the US Navy.
Links: USA, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1911 Aug
Calbraith Perry Rodgers stayed aloft longer than any other contestant at the Chicago International Aviation Meet. Rodgers had recently purchased a new Wright airplane, the 1st ever sold to a private citizen.
Links: USA, Aviation, Chicago     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1911 Sep 17
Cigar-smoking Calbraith Perry Rodgers (1879-1912) set off from Sheepshead Bay, New York, on the first flight across America. Rodgers, sponsored by the Vin Fiz grape drink company, flew the fragile Wright B biplane in pursuit of a $50,000 prize offered to the first person to make a transcontinental flight in 30 days or less. Rodgers failed to win the prize because his 4,321-mile flight took 84 days—of which only 3 days, 10 hours and 4 minutes was actual flying time! His average speed was 51.56 miles per hour. By the time he landed at Long Beach, California, on November 5, Rodgers had made 70 crash landings, suffered numerous minor injuries and had rebuilt his Vin Fiz so completely that only one strut and the rudder were its original equipment.
Links: USA, California, New York, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1911 Sep 29
Walter Brookins set an American record by flying 192 miles from Chicago to Springfield, Ill., making two stops.
Links: USA, Aviation, Illinois, Chicago     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1911 Oct 31
Prof. John J. Montgomery (b.1858) died when his glider crashed on his 56th flight at the Evergreen College campus south of San Jose.
Links: USA, California, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1911 Dec 10
Cal Rodgers (1879-1912) completed the first US transcontinental flight in the Wright EX Vin Fiz.
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1911 Dec 19
Onetime race-car driver Weldon Cooke piloted the homemade Black Diamond airplane over Mount Tamalpais on a flight from Oakland, Ca., to Marin County.
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1911
The first US experimental airmail flight took place on Long Island, a 3-mile journey between Garden City Estates and Mineola.
Links: USA, New York, Postage, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1912 Apr 3
Calbraith Perry Rodgers (b.1879), American pioneer aviator, crashed and was killed while flying over the ocean near Long Beach, Ca.
Links: USA, California, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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