This time line can be used to learn more about the history of flight as well the source for a little
400 B.C. — The first kites were invented by the Chinese
11th Century — Oliver of Malmesbury, a Benedictine Monk, is the first person to fly for some distance (125 paces) with the aid of wings.
1485 — Leonardo da Vinci designed the ornithopter, a wing-flapping aircraft that would use almost every muscle of the human body.
17th Century — The Royal Society of Great Britain passed out papers dealing with aeronautics to its members. After reading and discussing the papers,members were encouraged to produce new information. Robert Hooke and Sir Christopher Wrenn produced several notable papers.
1783 (June 5) — A duck, a sheep, and a rooster flew in a hot air balloon made of linen and paper by the Montgolfier brothers.
1783 (Aug. 27) — French chemist J.A.O. Charles launched an unmanned hydrogen balloon from the Champ de Mars in Paris.
1783 (Dec.) — J.A.O. Charles and assistant made the first manned flight in a hydrogen balloon from Paris to the village of Nesle.
1794 (June 26) — The French used a tethered balloon to observe the battlefield and direct artillery fire.
1797 — Andre-Jacques Garnerin became the world’s first skydiver when he parachutes 2230 feet from a hot-air balloon.
1837 (April 16) — Canadian John Ray successfully launched a weight-carrying paper balloon. The balloon was blackened, which allowed the sun to heat the air within and thus provide lift.
1849 — A glider designed by Sir George Cayley lifted a ten year old boy briefly into the air.
1852 — Henri Giffard puts the first airship (equivalent to an airborne submarine) into flight.
1852 — Sir George Cayley invented the first airliner wing.
1879 — Victor Tatim, a French engineer, built two compressed air model airplanes which flew successfully.
1891 — Otto Lilienthal built the first practical glider for long flights. He is credited with establishing the superiority of curved versus flat wings.
1895 — Alexander Graham Bell began experiments with flight-rotors, wings,gliders, and kites.These experiments led to the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) in 1907.
1896 (May 6) — Samuel P. Langley launched a 9 pound steam driven model airplane,the Aerodome No. 5.
1903 (Dec. 8) — Langley constructed a full size plane powered by an engine built by assistant Charles Manley. Manley attempted to fly the plane with Langley as a passenger. The flight plan involved catapulting the plane off the top of a houseboat on the Potomac River.
1903 (Dec. 17) — In Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville Wright became the first to achieve controlled powered flight. He stayed aloft for twelve seconds.
1905 (Dec. 28) — A tetrahedral cell kite, the Frost King, built by A.G. Bell, carried Neil McDermid, a Baddeck, Nova Scotia native, into the air on a rope ladder.
1907 — Paul Cornu, a Frenchman, built the first free-flying helicopter.
1907 (Oct.) — The Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) was formed.
1907 — The Cygnet, A.G. Bell’s aircraft made of 3,393 tetra cells and 184 square meters of silk, was launched. It carried Lt. Thomas Selfridge as it launched from a raft towed behind the steamer Blue Hill. The kite was destroyed upon landing due to the crew’s inexperience.
1908 (Mar. 12) — The Red Wing, the first plane built by the AEA, made its first flight 97 meters above the ice over Lake Keuka in Hammondsport, New York.It was the first of four biplanes designed by Thomas Selfridge and had a 40 HP Curtiss engine. The name was acquired due to the red silk used to make its wings.
1908 (May 18) — F.W. Baldwin flew the White Wing, the second biplane constructed by the AEA at Hammondsport, N.Y.
1908 (May 23) — J.A.D. McCurdy flew the White Wing to its destruction.
1908 (July 10) — With Glenn Curtiss as pilot, the June Bug, named due to its resemblance to the same named insect, was the first plane to make a complete turn.
1908 (Aug. 29) — J.A.D. McCurdy completed the first figure 8 in the June Bug.
1908 (Sept. 17) — Lt. Thomas Selfridge became the first passenger aviation fatality in a crash with pilot Orville Wright at Fort Meyers, Virginia.
1909 (Sept. 21) — W.R. Turnbull obtained a U.S. patent for an aeroplane and hydroplane.
1909 (Oct. 27) — First woman airplane passenger, Mrs. Henry Van Deman, flew with the Wright brothers.
1910 — Commercial Aviation began before WWI with the introduction of passenger carrying Zeppelin Airships; between 1910 and 1914,these airships carried more than 35,000 passengers between various German cities.
1912 (Mar. 9-17) —Dr. Bell commissioned McCurdy to construct a tetrahedral flying machine, the Cygnet III. The machine never succeeded in flying.
1913 (July 31) — Mrs. Alys McKey Bryant was the first woman to pilot a flight. She flew a Curtiss-type biplane at Vancouver, B.C.
1914 — Autopilot was invented by Elmer Sperry.
1915 (Jan.) — First air-to-air combat and first German aerial bombing of Great Britain by Zeppelins. During WWI, 56 tons of aerial bombs were dropped on London, and 214 tons of aerial bombs were dropped on the rest of Britain.
1915 — The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, predecessor of NASA, was created by the U.S.
1916 (Sept. 2) — Plane-to-plane radio transmission is successful at a distance of about 2 miles over North Island, California.
1916 — Professor Givson developed air cooling of aircraft engines by means of spacing, depth, and thickness of fins, and studied the effects of airflow at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough.
1917 (Feb. 13) — Aircraft Manufacturers Association (AMA) formed.
1917 — U.S. declared war on the Central Powers.
1918 (May) — Army pilots began the Post Office’s first regular airmail route (Washington to New York).
1918 — Weather reporting instruments, developed by Lt. W.F. Reed, were carried aloft by a kite balloon to take upper atmosphere weather soundings.
1919 — Deutsche Luftreederei, the first civil airline with passenger service,operated between Berlin, Leipzig, and Weimar.
1919 (May) — Lieutenant-Commander A.C. Read and crew, in the Curtiss Flying Boat, were the first to fly over the Atlantic.
1919 (June 28) — Treaty of Versailles signed, leaving Germany disarmed of a military air force except rockets as potential weapons.
1920-22 — Robert Goddard performed multiple experiments to determine the most efficient combination of rocket fuels.
1921 — Bessie Coleman became the first licensed African-American pilot.
1926 — Robert Goddard worked with rockets as a means of air travel.
1927 — Charles Lindbergh flew nonstop and solo across the Atlantic.
1932 — Amelia Earhart solos across the Atlantic.
1933 — The first modern airliner, the Boeing 247, made its initial flight. Its capacity is 10 passengers and 400 pounds of luggage. Luxuries included armchair seats, a flight attendant, and a bathroom.
1935 — Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to California.
1937 — The jet engine was invented by Frank Whittle.
1939 — Igor Sikorsky was credited for the first modern helicopter.
1943-45 — The Tuskegee Airmen were a prominent, all black squadron during WWII.
1947 — Chuck Yeager flew 670 mph, faster than the speed of sound.
1957 — Russians launched Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite.
1959 — Hovercraft invented by Christopher Cockerell.
1960 — By pointing engine nozzles downward, Michel Wibault tested the first Jump Jet. Very little runway was needed as a result.
1961 — Russian Yuri Gagarin was the first person in space.
1963 — Russian Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. She orbited earth 48 times, traveling 1.2 million miles.
1969 — United States Apollo11 astronauts landed on the moon.
1973 — The first United States space station, Skylab, proveed that people can live in space for extended time periods.
1977 — The Gossamer Condor was the first human-powered craft to fly successfully.
1981 — Columbia, the first Space Shuttle, was launched.
1984 — An astronaut maneuvering unit for space movement was put into use by NASA.
1986 — Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan were the first to circle the world without refueling. They started with 1,240 gallons of fuel aboard the Voyager.
1993 — At only 11 years old, Victoria Van Meter became the youngest girl to fly across the United States.
Return from Time Line to History of Flight