Aviation History

Contributed by Art Carson, art.carson@att.net

January

Jan. 1, 1914 — Anthony Jannus in Benoist flying boat begins world’s first scheduled airline service with heavier-than-air craft, from Tampa to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Jan. 1-7, 1929 — Maj. Carl Spaatz and crew in Fokker C-2 trimotor set refueling endurance record of 150 hours, 40 minutes, 51 seconds, over Los Angeles, Calif.

Jan. 11-12, 1935 — Amelia Earhart makes first solo flight by a woman, from Hawaii to California.

Jan. 16-18, 1957 — Three B-52 Stratofortresses make first nonstop jet around-the-world flight, 24,325 miles (three in-flight refuelings), in 45 hours, 20 minutes.

Jan. 19, 1937 — Howard Hughes sets transcontinental speed record, 2,453 miles, from Burbank, Calif., to Newark, N.J., in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds.

Jan. 21, 1976 — Regular supersonic transport service begins with Concorde flights from Britain to Bahrain and from France to Brazil.

Jan. 25, 1959 — American Airlines, using Boeing 707s begins transcontinental jet service between Los Angeles and New York City; 4 hours, 3 minutes, 53.8 seconds.

Jan. 26, 1892 – Bessie Coleman, the first black woman ever to earn a pilot license (1921), is born the 10th of 13 children in Atlanta, TX.

February

Feb. 1, 1911 — Burgess and Curtiss become the US’ first licensed aircraft manufacturer.

Feb.1, 1942 – Japanese targets in the Gilbert and Marshal Islands are attacked by US carrier aircraft, signaling the beginning of the first US carrier offensive in WWII.

Feb. 1, 1929 – Boeing Airplane & Transport Co. spins off United Aircraft & Transportation Corp., which later became United Airlines in 1933.

Feb. 1, 1952 — The US Air Force acquires its first general-purpose computer a (Remington Rand) Univac I, Serial Number 2. It was the size of a single-car garage, and the heat developed by its 125 kw- 5200 vacuum tubes required chilled water-cooling.

Feb. 1, 1981 – Donald Wills Douglas (McDonnell Douglas) dies at age 89. He was a graduate of M.I.T and served as Chief Engineer for the Glenn Martin Aircraft Co. Douglas started the Douglas Aircraft Co. in July 1920 in Santa Monica CA. Douglas Aircraft Co. was merged into McDonnell Aircraft in 1967.

Feb.1, 2003 – The US Space Shuttle Colombia (STS-107) broke up during re-entry killing all seven astronauts after a successful116 day mission. The Colombia was first launched in 1981 and this was its 28th flight. It is now believed that a suitcase size chunk of foam insulation broke off of the main fuel tank and struck the left wing during launch damaging a critical section of heat insulating tiles. The space shuttle program is scheduled to resume in Sept. 2004 with STS-114.

Feb.3, 1945 – More than 1,000 US B-17 and B-24 bombers, escorted by 900 fighters, attack Berlin.

Feb. 5, 1949 — An Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellation lands at LaGuardia, New York, at the end of a flight of 6 hours 18 minutes from Los Angeles, a coast-to-coast record for transport aircraft.

Feb. 8, 1933 – First flight of the Boeing 247. (United Airlines) Carried 3 crew, 10 passengers and 400 lbs. of mail. Cruise speed 189 mph.

Feb. 8, 1988 — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) retires an aircraft registration number for the first time – that of Amelia Earhart’s airplane, which disappeared over the Pacific in July 1937.

Feb. 9, 1963 – The Boeing 727 tri-jet airliner makes its first flight, from Seattle to Everett, Wash. The 727 was the most-produced airliner of all time until surpassed by the Boeing 737. It entered service with United Airlines Oct. 29, 1963.

Feb.9, 1969 – Inaugural flight of the B-747, Everett Field, WA. Launch customer was Pan American Airways for use on New York- London route. Plane had seating for 347. At 150 ft., the economy section alone is longer than the Wright Bros. first flight. Today’s 747 can carry up to 524 passengers and can stay aloft for 17 hours, storing fuel in the tail structure as well as the wings and fuselage. With a range of 8,430 statute miles, the 747 remains the fastest sub-sonic commercial jetliner at Mach .855 (approx 567 mph).

Feb.10, 1994 – Lt. Jeannie Flynn, the first woman selected for US Air Force combat pilot training, paved the way for future female pilots by completing her advanced F-15E fighter training.

Feb. 10–11, 1929 – Evelyn Trout sets a women’s solo flight endurance record of 17 hours, 21 minutes, 37 seconds in the monoplane Golden Eagle.

Feb.14, 1989 – The first operational Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) was successfully launched into orbit atop a McDonnell Douglas Delta II space booster from Cape Canaveral, FL.

Feb. 17, 1938 – Six Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, under the command of AAC Lt. Col. Robert Olds, leave Miami, Fla., on a goodwill flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The return trip to Langley Field, Va., is the longest nonstop flight in Army Air Corps history.

Feb. 19, 1982 – The Boeing 757 makes its first flight at Renton, WA. Delivered to Eastern Air Lines Dec. 22nd, 1982.

Feb. 20, 1962 – US Marine Lt. Col. John H. Glenn Jr. became the first American astronaut to orbit the earth. Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral in “Friendship 7”, a McDonnell built Mercury capsule, atop a Convair (later General Dynamics, later Lockheed) Atlas-6 rocket and orbited the earth three times. Total “flight” time was 4 hrs and 55 minutes.

Feb 21, 1979 — Former astronaut Neil Armstrong climbs to 50,000 feet in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in just over 12 minutes in a Gates Learjet Longhorn 28, breaking five world records for business jets.

Feb. 22, 1912 – French pilot Jules Vedrines was the first to break the 100 mph airspeed barrier at 100.22 MPH.

Feb. 23, 1955 – The US Army entered the turbine powered helicopter age when the Bell Helicopter HU-1 Iroquois was added to its fleet. The “Huey”, as it was known, came to be the workhorse chopper in Vietnam.

Feb. 25, 1965 – The Douglas DC-9 makes its first flight. It is the first commercial jetliner with rear-mounted engines. It enters service Dec. 8th with Delta Airlines.

Feb. 26-March 2, 1949 — Capt. James Gallagher and crew of 13 fly USAF Boeing B-50 bomber Lucky Lady II in first nonstop around-the-world flight, 23,452 miles (four in-flight refuelings), in 3 days, 22 hours, 1 minute.

Feb. 26, 1955 – North American Aviation test pilot George Smith becomes the first person to survive ejection from an aircraft flying at supersonic speed. His F-100 Super Sabre is traveling at Mach 1.05 when the controls jam, and he is forced to punch out.

Feb. 27, 1920 – Major R.W. Schroeder (US Army Air Service) set the world altitude record of 33,114 feet in his Packard Lepere 400 HP biplane.

Feb. 27, 1947 – Lt. Col. Robert Thacker (pilot) and Lt. John M. Ard (copilot) set the record for the longest nonstop flight by a propeller-driven fighter aircraft. They fly Betty Jo, a slightly modified (no guns or armor) North American P-82B Twin Mustang, 5,051 miles from Hickam Field, Hawaii, to LaGuardia Airport in New York City, in 14 hours and 33 minutes. The crew started with 2,215 gallons of fuel and landed with only 60 gallons left.

March

Mar 1, 1925 — Ryan Airlines begins the first regularly scheduled passenger airline service flown within the mainland United States. The service runs between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Mar 3, 1919 — Airplane builder William E. Boeing and Eddie Hubbard of Hubbard Air Service make the first international airmail flight from Seattle, Washington to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Mar 5, 1923 — The great aeronautical pioneer Igor Sikorsky sets up the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corp. in the United States with the financial help of several important leading figures, including Sergey Rachmaninoff. Sikorsky left Russia in 1917 when revolution threatened his work and his life.

Mar 14, 1927 — The Aviation Corp. of America (AVCO), headed by Juan Trippe, forms Pan American Airways to qualify for a contract for airmail deliveries from the post office and establishes the route between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba as the first of several routes it would acquire.

March 19-April 17, 1964 — Jerrie Mock makes first around-the-world solo flight by a woman; flies a single-engine Cessna 22,858.8 miles, in 21 stops.

Mar 29, 1951 — Flight Safety Inc. begins operations at the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport, New York with just one secretary and rented late night hours on a Link trainer simulator.

April April 1, 1918: The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force is born. It is formed out the army’s Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.

April 2, 1997: A Boeing 777, powered by twin Rolls-Royce Trent 892 turbofans, returns to Seattle to set a new Eastbound speed around the world record of 553 mph. En route, the twinjet sets a Great Circle distance without landing record of 12,455.34 miles when flying from Seattle to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

April 6, 1924: The first successful flight around the world starts as four Douglas World Cruisers leave from Seattle, Washington. Of the four, only two complete the circumnavigation as they each fly 27,553 miles (44,340 km) in 175 days, and return to Seattle on September 28. The actual flying time is 371 hours, 11 minutes, and the successful pilots are Lt. Lowell H. Smith and Lt. Erik Nelson.

April 6, 1967: Trans World Airlines (TWA) becomes the first American airline to have a fleet composed entirely of jet aircraft.

April 8, 1931: Amelia Earhart climbs to a record altitude of 18,415 feet in a Pitcairn autogyro at Willow Grove, near Philadelphia.

April 9, 1969: The first U.K.-assembled supersonic transport, Concorde 002, makes a successful first flight in England.

April 13, 1966: Boeing announces in Seattle an order worth $525 million from Pan Am for 25 Model 747 jumbo jets. (AYY)

April 18, 1917: William E. Boeing’s Pacific Aero Products Company is renamed the “Boeing Airplane Company.”

April 22, 1985: Pan Am sells its Pacific division to United Air Lines for $750 million; the deal includes all Pan Am’s Pacific routes as well as its complete fleet of long-range 747SPs, half its TriStars and one DC-10.

April 26, 1972: The first Lockheed L-1011 TriStar enters scheduled service, with Eastern Air Lines, on its route from Miami to New York.

April 28, 1937: The first commercial flight across the Pacific is made as a Pan-American Boeing 314 Clipper seaplane arrives in Hong Kong.

April 29, 1988: The first flight of the Boeing 747-400 is made. This Advanced Superjet has a crew of two and can carry between 412 and 509 passengers over 8,000 miles. Sales in 1990 of 170 of these wide-body transports broke all records.

May

May 1, 1960: A Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, piloted by U.S. Air Force Col. Francis Gary Powers, is shot down over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile.

May 3, 1952: The first landing at the North Pole is made by Americans Lt. Col. William P. Benedict and Lt. Col. J. O. Fletcher on a ski-and-wheel equipped Air Force Douglas C-47.

May 5, 1968: The first non-stop Atlantic crossing by an executive jet aircraft is made as a Grumman Gulfstream II lands in London, England after completing a 3,500-mile (5,633 km) flight from Teterboro, New Jersey.

May 7, 1937: The first successful pressurized airplane cabin is achieved in the Lockheed XC-35

May 9, 1926: The first airplane flight over the North Pole is made by Americans Lt. Cdr. Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett in a Fokker F-VII/3m. Their total distance from Spitzbergen, Norway is 1,600 miles (2,575 km)

May 11, 1927: Charles Lindbergh lands his new Ryan airplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, in St. Louis after a record non-stop overnight flight from San Diego of 14 hours, 25 minutes.

May 13, 1940: The first successful free flight of a true helicopter is made by Igor I. Sikorsky’s single-rotor VS-300.

May 15, 1930: The first airline stewardess is Ellen Church, a nurse who flies on the Boeing Air Transport flight between San Francisco, California and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

May 20, 1932: The first solo flight by a woman pilot across the Atlantic is made by American Amelia Earhart. She flies from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland to Londonderry, Northern Ireland in a Lockheed Vega monoplane in 13 hours, 30 minutes.

May 21, 1977: The Concorde makes a special trip from New York to Paris to mark the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight on the same route in the Spirit of St. Louis; the airliner takes just 3 hours, 44 minutes, compared with Lindbergh’s time of 33 hours, 29 minutes.

May 25, 1910: Orville Wright takes his 82-year-old father for his first airplane ride. Also on this day, Wilbur and Orville fly together for the only time in a six-and-one-half minute flight at Simms Station, near Dayton, Ohio.
May 30, 1912: Wilbur Wright dies of typhoid fever at the early age of 45. His death marks the end of his extraordinary partnership with his brother Orville, which culminated in 1903 with the first true powered flight in history.

May 31, 1928: The first airplane flight across the Pacific is made by British Capt. Charles Kingsford-Smith and crew in a Fokker F-VIIB/3m. They fly from Oakland Field, California to Brisbane, Australia, 7,389 miles (11,890km), in 83 hours, 38 minutes. On the way, it becomes the first airplane to land in Fiji.

June

June 1, 1925: A car dealer covers himself in stamps worth $718 in a bid to be sent airmail from San Francisco to New York; the U.S. Post Office refuses to accept him.

June 2, 1910: Charles Rolls makes a non-stop double crossing of the Channel from Dover, England, in one hour, 35 minutes.

June 5, 1989: The massive Antonov An-225 Mriya flies in to Paris-Le Bourget for the 1989 Paris Air Show, carrying the Soviet Shuttle Buran on its back. When it takes of from Kiev to fly to Paris, the combination has a takeoff weight of 1,234,600 lb., the greatest weight ever lifted into the air.

June 11, 1926: The first flight of the Ford A-AT trimotor, an all-metal monoplane which competes with the three-engine Fokker and becomes a pioneer American airliner. It is known affectionately as the “Tin Goose.”

June 14, 1919: The first direct non-stop crossing of the Atlantic by airplane is made by a British two-man team. Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Whitten-Brown fly a Vickers Vimy bomber from St. Johns, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland. They fly some 1,950 miles in 16 hours, 27 minutes.

June 20, 1951: The first flight of aircraft with variable-sweep wings is made as the research aircraft Bell X-5, flies for 30 minutes at Edwards, California.

June 21, 1913: The first woman to make a parachute jump from an airplane is Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick. The 18-year-old American descends 1,000 feet over Los Angeles, California.

June 25, 1928: The Boeing Model 83 biplane, the last from this company in which wood was used for the wing frame and the last biplane built by Boeing, makes its first flight.

June 26, 1909: The first commercial sale of an airplane in the United States is made as Glenn H. Curtiss sells one of his planes to the Aeronautic Society of New York for $7,500. This action spurs the Wright brothers to begin a patent suit to prevent him from selling airplanes without a license.

June 27, 1923: The first refueling in mid-air (with hose) of one airplane by another is made by a De Havilland D.H.4-b from another one over San Diego, California. The planes are flown by Capt. L. H. Smith and Lt. J. P. Richter.

June 28, 1911: The first airplane charter flight is made by English aviator Thomas Sopwith who is hired by Wannamaker’s New York store to deliver repaired glasses to Philadelphia merchant W. A. Burpee.

June 28, 1927: The first non-stop flight between the United States and Hawaii is made by U.S. Lts. Albert F. Hegenberger and Lester J. Maitland. They fly 2,407 miles (3,874 km) from Oakland to Honolulu in 25 hours, 30 minutes.

July

July, 1931 — United Airlines
United Airlines was one of the “Big Four” airlines in the United States that dominated commercial travel for much of the 20th century and has remained one of the major U.S. airlines. It was originally formed by United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, a partnership between Boeing Airplane Company and Pratt & Whitney. The larger corporation officially established an operating division known as United Air Lines on July 1, 1931. At the time, the company advertised United as the “World’s Largest Air Transport System.”

July 7, 1981
MacCready’s Solar Challenger is first solar-powered aircraft to cross English Channel.

July 10-14, 1938
Howard Hughes and crew fly Lockheed “14” around the world, 14,971 miles, from Long Island, in 3 days, 19 hours, 8 minutes.

July 15-22, 1933
Wiley Post flies Lockheed Vega monoplane Winnie Mae in first around-the-world solo flight, 15,596 miles in 11 stops, in 7 days, 8 hours, 49 minutes; flying time, 115 hours, 36 minutes.

July 17, 1962
North American rocket research plane X-15 penetrates outer space.

July 25, 1909
Louis Bleriot of France in Bleriot XI, which he designed, makes first crossing of English Channel by airplane, 25 miles in 37 minutes.

August

The Beginnings of British Commercial Aviation
On August 25, 1919, at 9.10 a.m. a de Havilland 4A bomber, converted by the British Aircraft Transport and Travel (AT&T) company for passenger use, took off from London and flew to Paris in two hours. On board was various exotic cargo, including Devonshire cream, newspapers, mail, and leather—but also a lone reporter from the Evening Standard, who claimed the distinction of flying on the world’s first regular daily international scheduled flight.

Aug. 7, 1980
Janice Brown pilots Paul MacCready’s Gossamer Penguin, first solar-powered aircraft without battery-stored energy, in 15-minute test flight in California.

Aug. 7-10, 1947
William P. Odom in Douglas A-26 flies solo around the world, 19,645 miles, in 3 days, 1 hour, 5 minutes, 11 seconds.

Aug. 27, 1939
Germans fly Heinkel He-178, world’s first turbojet airplane, at Rostock, Germany.

September

Sept. 1, 1953: The first aerial refueling of a jet aircraft by a jet tanker is made with a B-47 Stratojet by a KB-47B tanker.

Sept. 1, 1974: Transatlantic speed record of 1 hour, 54 minutes, 56 seconds set by USAF Lockheed SR-71.

September 1, 1927: National Air Transport, one of the companies that originally made up United Airlines, was founded on November 14, 1926, for the purpose of carrying parcels. This airline delivered the first air cargo in the United States on September 1 between Dallas and New York.

Sept. 9, 1911: The 1st mail carried by air in the United Kingdom is delivered. The mail contains messages for King George V and other members of the British royal family.

Sept. 11, 1920:- Edison Mouton flies into Marina Field, San Francisco, to complete the 1st US transcontinental airmail flight. Having left from New York, it took Mouton and his crew over 75 hours to complete the feat.

Sept. 17- Dec. 10, 1911: Calbraith P. Rodgers in Wright EX Vin Fiz makes first transcontinental flight, 4,231 miles, from Sheepshead Bay, Long Island, N.Y., to Long Beach, Calif., in 84 days and 70 hops; flying time, 82 hours, 14 minutes.

Sept. 22, 1950: Two USAF Republic F-84-Es fly first nonstop jet transatlantic flights (three in-flight refuelings).

Sept. 23, 1913: French pilot, Roland Garros, becomes the 1st person to fly across the Mediterranean, a distance of 470 miles. He lands in Tunisia 7 hours and 53 minutes after taking off from France, which is of particular note because he only had enough fuel for 8 hours of flight.

Sept. 23, 1911: Earle L. Ovington in Bleriot monoplane flies first officially sanctioned airmail in U.S., from Hempstead to Mineola, Long Island, N.Y.

Sept. 26, 1967: The governments of France, West Germany, and Britain sign a memorandum that calls for the development of the Airbus A300 wide-bodied jet airliner.

Sept. 27, 1922: Dr. Albert Taylor and Leo Young, scientists at the US Naval Aircraft Radio Laboratory, make the 1st successful detections of objects by “radio observation”. They use wireless waves to detect objects not visible due to weather or darkness. This insight leads to the advent of radar.

Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 1946: Comdr. Thomas D. Davis and crew of three other U.S. Navy fliers in Lockheed P2V Neptune Truculent Turtle flies nonstop from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, Ohio, 11,235.6 miles in 55 1/4 hours.

October

Oct. 1, 1942 — Robert M. Stanley flies first U.S. jet plane, Bell XP-59 Airacomet, at Muroc, Calif.

Oct. 4-5, 1931 — Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon, Jr., fly Bellanca monoplane Miss Veedol in first nonstop transpacific flight, 4,860 miles, from Tokyo, Japan, to Wenatchee, Wash., in 41 hours, 13 minutes.

Oct. 14, 1947 — Maj. Charles E. Yeager of USAF flies Bell X-1, first plane to fly faster than sound.

Oct. 23, 1906 — Alberto Santos-Dumont makes first officially observed flight in Europe, nearly 200 feet in 6 seconds, in France.

Oct. 26, 1958 — Pan American World Airways begins first regular jet service between New York City and Paris, using American-built Boeing 707 jet transports.

Oct. 28-30, 1977 — Pan American Boeing 747 sets speed record for circling the globe over both poles on a 26,383-mile passenger flight from San Francisco; elapsed time, including three on-ground re-fuelings: 54 hours, 7 minutes, 12 seconds.

November

Nov. 6, 1915 — The 1st catapult launching of an airplane from a moving ship is made from the USS North Carolina in Pensacola, Florida.

Nov. 6, 1945 — The 1st jet plane to land on an aircraft carrier is a Ryan FR-1 piloted by U.S. Navy Ensign Jake West.

Nov. 7, 1910 — The 1st use of an airplane to carry commercial freight is the Wright Company’s airplane that flies from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio carrying 10 bolts of silk to the Morehouse-Martens Company. (OTM)

Nov. 10, 1907 — Louis Bleriot introduces what will become the modern configuration of the airplane. His No.VII has an enclosed or covered fuselage (body), a single set of wings (monoplane), a tail unit, and a propeller in front of the engine.

Nov. 12, 1921 — The 1st air-to-air refueling is made when American Wesley May steps from the wing of one aircraft to that of another carrying a five-gallon can of gasoline strapped to his back.

Nov. 14, 1910 — Eugene Ely takes off from deck of U.S. cruiser Birmingham at Hampton Roads, Va., in first flight from deck of a ship.

Nov. 28-29, 1929 — Comdr. Richard E. Byrd, Bernt Balchen, Harold June, and Capt. Ashley McKinley in Ford tri-motor monoplane Floyd Bennett make first flight over South Pole, 1,600 miles, from Little America over pole and back, in 18 hours, 59 minutes.

Nov. 12- Dec. 10, 1919 — Capts. Ross Smith and Keith Smith become the first Australians to fly directly between Great Britain and Australia, a distance of 11,340 mi., after flying 135 hr. 55 min. at an average speed of 83 MPH. The trip took 27 days and 20 hours.

December

Dec. 1, 1934 — The first airway traffic control center is opened in Newark, N.J., operated by staff of Eastern Air Lines, United Air Lines, American Airlines and TWA.

Dec.11, 1917 — Katherine Stinson flies 606 miles from San Diego to San Francisco, setting a new American non-stop distance record.

Dec. 12, 1953 — Mach 2.5 (2 ½ times the speed of sound) is achieved for the first time by Major Charles “Chuck” Yeager in the Bell X-1A. The rocket-propelled experimental aircraft reaches 1,650 mph at 70,000 feet.

Dec. 17, 1903 — Orville and Wilbur Wright make first successful flight, at Kitty Hawk, N.C.; 120 feet in 12 seconds.

Dec. 14-23, 1986 — Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, is first craft to fly around the world without refueling.

Dec. 23, 1940 — The first U.S. all-cargo air service is inaugurated by United Air Lines when at 11:30 P.M. a flight leaves New York for Chicago, where it arrives at 3:40 A.M. local time the following morning after stopping in Cleveland.

Dec. 21- May 2, 1926, 1927 — U.S. Army Air Service pilots starting with five Loening OA-1 amphibians fly Pan American goodwill flight, over 22,000 miles, from U.S. to Central and South America and back.