Children the world over seem captivated by flight. Whether it is hot air balloons, paper airplanes, rockets, jumbo jets, or space craft, the concept of flight has sparked the imagination. In honor of National Aviation History Month, here are some interesting flight facts you may not have known!
1783 First Hot Air Balloon Flight in France.
797 First parachute jump. André-Jacques Garnerin dropped from about 6,500 ft over Monceau Park in Paris in a 23-foot-diameter parachute made of white canvas with a basket attached
1860 First Aerial Photographs. Samuel Archer King and William Black made took two photos of Boston.
1903 First successful airplane flight. Orville and Wright successfully flew a homemade airplane 120 feet in 12 seconds. Later in the day, Wilbur Wright stayed in up for 59 seconds and covered 852 feet.
1910 First licensed female pilot. Baroness Raymonde de la Roche of France, who learned to fly in 1909, received ticket No. 36 on March 8, making her the first licensed female pilot.
1919 First transatlantic flight. Lt. Comander Albert C. Read reached Lisbon, Portugal after hops from Trepassy Bay, Newfoundland, to Horta, Azores to Ponta Delgada.
1924 First Around-the-World Flight. Four Douglas Cruiser biplanes of the U.S. Army Air Corps took off from Seattle under command of Maj. Frederick Martin (April 6). 175 days later, two of the planes (Lt. Lowell Smith’s and Lt. Erik Nelson’s) landed in Seattle after a circuitous route—one source saying 26,345 mi, another saying 27,553 mi.
1932 First woman’s transatlantic solo. Amelia Earhart, flying a Pratt & Whitney Wasp-powered Lockheed Vega, flew alone from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Ireland in approximately 15 hours.
1937 First successful helicopter flight. Hanna Reitsch, a German pilot, flew Dr. Heinrich Focke’s FW-61 in a free, fully controlled flight.
1944 First production stage rocket-engine fighter plane. The German Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet (test flown 1941) became operational in June 1944. Some 350 of these delta-wing fighters were built before WWII in Europe ended.
1949 First round-the-world nonstop flight. Capt. James Gallagher and USAF crew of 13 flew a Boeing B-50A Superfortress around the world nonstop from Ft. Worth, returning to same point covering 23,452 miles in 94 hours and 1 minute. There were four aerial refuelings en route.
1958 First domestic airline jet passenger service. National Airlines began service between New York and Miami.
1978 First successful transatlantic ballon flight. Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, and Maxie Anderson, completed the crossing in their helium-filled balloon, known as the Double Eagle II.
1986 First nonstop flight around the world without refueling. From Edwards AFB, Calif., Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew their Voyager around the world (24,986.727 miles), returning to Edwards AFB in 216 hours, 3 minutes, 44 seconds.
2002 First solo nonstop round-the-world balloon flight. Steve Fossett flew from Northam, West Australia, to Lake Yamma Yamma, Queensland, Australia, landing after 14 days, 19 hrs. He broke three balloon records along the way: fastest time around the world, longest distance flown solo, and longest time flown solo.
To learn more fascinating facts on flight, check out the book: Eyewitness: Flight.