The foundation for human flight was laid as early as 400 BC. From Archytas and Archimedes to modern-day aviators, the dream of manned flight has flourished. As technology developed, these visionaries began making innovations that would eventually take mankind into the skies. Here are ten of the most important moments in aviation history.
1. The First Flight of an Engine – Powered Plane by the Wright Brothers – 1903
After several failed attempts at flight, the Wright brothers finally built a movable track that in order to help launch their ‘Flyer’. After two unsuccessful attempts, Orville Wright finally managed to take the Flyer up for about 12 seconds on December 17th, 1903, making the first successful powered flight in history. The same flight was later repeated, though after making a few modifications, flying for more than five minutes in 1904
2. The First Flight across the Atlantic – 1919
The NC-4 was the first flying boat to cross the Atlantic during the First World War. It was designed by Glenn Curtiss and manufactured by ‘Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company’. In fact, there were three NC-4s which began reaching Europe in 1919 however the first was piloted by A.C Read, successfully completing the Atlantic crossing. The flight took off on May 16th, 1919, from Newfoundland, Canada, and reached Horta Azores after 17 hours in the air.
3. First Flight across the English Channel – 1909
Then 37-year old Louis Bleriot, a French self-trained pilot, aircraft engineer and inventor, flew across the English Channel on July 25th, 1909, in an aircraft that he himself had designed called the Bleriot XI. He flew the aircraft from Les Barraques, France to England through bad weather, and earned 1000 pounds doing so from the London Daily Mail. This flight was shocking to the British political and military establishments.
4. The First Trans-Pacific Flight – 1928
The first aircraft to make a trans-Pacific flight was the “Fokker FVIIb-3m NC1985 Southern Cross”. The crew consisted of Australia’s Charles Ulm and Charles Kingsford Smith as well as the Americans, navigator Harry Lyon and James Warner, the radio operator. This flight took an approximate total of 83 hours to cross the 11,822 kilometers from California to Brisbane. The flight had made stops in Fiji and Hawaii en route.
5. First Flight around the World – 1924
In total, 5 Douglas World Cruisers were built for the US Army Air Service in order to attempt this flight in 1924. These five aircraft were named The Boston, The Seattle, The New Orleans, The Chicago and The Boston II. Four of these planes attempted the flight though only two, The New Orleans and The Chicago, completed their flight plans, covering 41,000 kilometers in about 175 days, thus making them first aircrafts to complete the flight around the world. On the trip, they visited more than 60 cities.
6. First Flight over the North Pole – 1926
Richard Byrd, an American explorer, was the first person to fly over the North Pole. The aircraft, named Josephine Ford, took off from Norway and landed at Spitzbergen. The flight took about sixteen hours to complete.
7. First Commercial Jet Airliner – 1949
The ‘de Havilland Comet’ was the first commercial jet airliner. This aircraft was manufactured by de Havilland and first flew in 1949.
8. The First Flight of a Boeing 747 (Jumbo jet) – 1969
The world’s largest commercial aircraft, manufactured by Boeing, is the Boeing 747. It’s first flight was made in 1969. Today, the 747 is one of the most popular passenger planes across the world.
9. First Flight to Antarctica – 1955
The first aircraft to land in Antarctica was a Douglas “LC47H BuNo17221”, in 1955. The flight was undertaken by the US navy as part of a deep-search operation. Following suit, several other countries started exploring the continent after this historical flight.
10. First Supersonic Flight – 1946
The Bell X-1 was the first experimental jet to achieve supersonic speeds way back in 1946. Though the flight was successful, several concerns were raised at international platforms including the safety of pilots and passengers. Overcoming these hurdles was the Concorde Jet which too achieved supersonic speeds.