This brief look into the history of flight is general thought to begin in the 1500’s when the Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci began drawing flying machines based on the characteristics of birds and other flying animals, extrapolating on their ability to displace air to stay aloft, though this was being considered up to a thousand years before Da Vinci. Of course, everyone is aware of the Wright Brothers monumental contribution with their famous craft and the subsequent endeavors of modern age aviators as humankind reached ever upward into Space.
Once considered a physical impossibility, the now long-standing tradition of “heavier-than-air flight,” stands as not only one of humankind’s finest accomplishments, but also an ongoing source for inspiration, industry, art, and imagination.
For those flying their own aircraft, the daily reality of flight is a joy and a privilege that never loses its luster. Do take the time to reflect on each of these amazing milestones and see them for the monumental accomplishments that they are.
So, starting with Da Vinci:
Leonardo da Vinci develops detailed sketches of flying machines that would inspire aviators for centuries to come.
Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI become the first to pilot a functional hot air balloon, mistakenly believing that the smoke, rather than the heat, was responsible for lifting their craft.
The Wright Brothers launch their famous craft, the first powered aerial vehicle, the Wright Flyer, in Kitty Hawk, NC. The plane remained aloft for 12 seconds.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact date when the US Airforce was established as the beginnings of national air forces had different names. The US ‘Air Force’ came into being in 1907 – then name Aeronautical Division Signal’ Corps.
Louis Bleriot of France becomes the first to successfully cross the English Channel by air.
Albert Berry completes the first successful parachute jump from an airborne craft in Missouri.
Arthur Whitten Brown and John Alcock complete the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic.
Two Navy pilots complete the first transcontinental flight from New York to California.
Two Army planes complete the first complete flight around the globe using four Douglas biplanes. The trip began in Seattle and took six months and six days to complete.
Charles Lindbergh flies solo from New York across the Atlantic in 33 hours and 29 minutes, before landing safely in Paris.
Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon become the first to make a nonstop flight across the Pacific.
Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Wiley Post makes the first successful solo flight around the globe.
The jet-engine technology is proven viable with its first successful flight.
A B-25 bomber collides with the Empire State Building in New York City.
Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier in the X-1 aircraft.
The US Air Force completes the first nonstop flight around the world.
A jet-powered plane crosses the Atlantic for the first time.
Ham the chimpanzee goes into space in the Project Mercury capsule.
Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space.
John Glen becomes the first American to orbit Earth.
Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first female space-traveler.
Jerrie Mock is the first woman to fly around the world solo.
Russian cosmonaut Alexi Leonov executes the first spacewalk.
Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.
The famous Apollo 13 mission launches a harrowing lunar-landing attempt which was aborted due to malfunctions.
The Russian Soyuz 11 spacecraft link up with the space station, Salyut 1.
Skylab space station is launched on a 28+ day long flight.
The Concorde SST lands in the United States.
The Space Shuttle Columbia launches for the first time.
Sally Ride becomes America’s first woman in space.
Col. Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov set the record for time in space at an incredible 366 days on the Space Station Mir.
The first paying passenger goes into space aboard the Soyuz TM-11.
The Space Shuttle Discovery successfully mates with the Russian Space Station Mir, with Eileen Collins as the first female Shuttle pilot.
The Space Shuttle Discovery makes its final docking at the Russian Space Station Mir, setting the stage for the ISP Partnership.
Lockheed Martin’s 100th C-130J Super Hercules rolled off the assembling line, making it a staple among cargo airplanes.
The New York Air National Guard’s fighter squadron switched from manned to all unmanned aircraft.
The F-22 Raptor is the final word in stealth combat aircraft. But a lack of demand moves Congress to stop production in 2009.
In a solar airplane, Bertrand Piccard and his Solar Impulse team fly more than 24 consecutive hours non–stop.
The Space Shuttle Program officially ends with the final flight of space shuttle Atlantis.
Electric vehicle pioneer Chip Yates flies an electric aircraft faster than 200 miles per hour for the first time.
The unnamed aircraft, U.S. Navy’s X–47B drone, completes first-ever carrier landing on the moving flight deck of an aircraft carrier at sea.
NASA’s Maven successfully reaches and enters Mar’s orbit, starts exploring Mar’s upper atmosphere.
For the first time, SpaceX upgraded Falcon 9 rocket lands a spent orbital rocket after deploying 11 Orbcomm data satellites into orbit.
Blue Origin launches and lands reusable rocket for third consecutive time.
Airbus in November partnered with Rolls-Royce and Siemens to develop a hybrid-electric propulsion demonstrator, the E-fan X, to fly in 2020.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe sets record for “closest approach to the sun.”