First balloon flight. Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier of Annonay, France, sent up a small smoke-filled balloon about mid-November.
First hydrogen-filled balloon flight.
Jacques A. C. Charles, Paris physicist, supervised construction by A.
J. and M. N. Robert of a 13-foot-diameter balloon that was filled with
hydrogen. It got up to about 3,000 ft and traveled about 16 mi in a
45-minute flight (Aug. 27).
First human balloon flights.
A Frenchman, Jean Pilâtre de Rozier, made the first captive-balloon
ascension (Oct. 15). With the Marquis d'Arlandes, Pilâtre de Rozier made
the first free flight, reaching a peak altitude of about 500 ft, and
traveling about 51/2 mi in 20 min. (Nov. 21).
First powered balloon.
Gen. Jean Baptiste Marie Meusnier developed the first propeller-driven
and elliptically shaped balloon - the crew cranking three propellers on a
common shaft to give the craft a speed of about 3 mph.
First balloon flight by a woman. Mme. Thible, a French opera singer (June 4).
- First balloon flight in America. Jean Pierre Blanchard, a French pilot, made it from Philadelphia to near Woodbury, N.J., in just over 45 min. (Jan. 9).
- First military use of the balloon.
Jean Marie Coutelle, using a balloon built for the French Army, made
two 4-hour observation ascents. The military purpose of the ascents
seems to have been to damage the enemy's morale.
- 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 (Oct. 22).
- First air transport company.
In London, William S. Henson and John Stringfellow filed articles of
incorporation for the Aerial Transit Company (March 24). It failed.
- First dirigible.
Henri Giffard, a French engineer, flew in a controllable (more or less)
steam-engine-powered balloon, 144 ft long and 39 ft in diameter,
inflated with 88,000 cu ft of coal gas. It reached 6.7 mph on a flight
from Paris to Trappe (Sept. 24).
- First aerial photographers. Samuel Archer King and William Black made two photos of Boston, which are still in existence.
- First gas-engine-powered dirigible.
Paul Haenlein, a German engineer, flew in a semi-rigid-frame dirigible,
powered by a 4-cylinder internal-combustion engine running on coal gas
drawn from the supporting bag.
- First transatlantic attempt. The New York Daily Graphic
sponsored the attempt with a 400,000-cubic-foot balloon carrying a
lifeboat. A rip in the bag during inflation brought the collapse of the
balloon and the project.
- First piloted, powered flight of an airplane. French electrical engineer Clément Ader used an 18- to 20-horsepower steam engine to power his Éole
monoplane 165 feet on October 9. Ader himself admitted the flight as
“tentative”, and in no way could be considered a controlled or sustained
flight. Steam engines -- state of the art in those days -- were too
heavy for use in an airplane.
- First reproducible gliding flights.
The civil engineer Otto Lilienthal (born in Anklam, Germany) succeeded
with the reproducible gliding flights, the first in history, with his
own design. His methodical strategy "from jump to flight" was adopted by
the Wright Brothers (USA) in their quest to develop a practical powered
- First successful metal dirigible.
An all-metal dirigible, designed by David Schwarz, a Hungarian, took
off from Berlin's Tempelhof Field and, powered by a 16-horsepower
Daimler engine, got several miles before leaking gas caused it to crash
- First zeppelin flight.
Germany's Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin flew the first of his long
series of rigid-frame airships. It attained a speed of 18 mph and got 31/2 mi before its steering gear failed (July 2).
- First controlled & sustained power-driven flight
was achieved by Orville Wright (1871-1948). He flew the 12 hp chain
driven "Flyer I" for a distance of 120 ft at an air speed of 30 mph at
an altitude of 8-12 ft for 20 sec. This happened near Kill Devil Hills,
N.C. at 10:35 A.M. on December 17, 1903. The Flyer's flight was
witnessed by his brother Wilbur and 5 others. Later that day, in one of
four flights, Wilbur stayed up 59 sec. and covered 852 ft. The Flyer is
on display in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
- First airplane maneuvers.
Orville Wright made the first turn with an airplane (September 15);
five days later his brother Wilbur made the first complete circle.
- First airplane flight over half an hour. Orville Wright kept his craft up 33 min., 17 sec. (October 4).
- First European airplane flight. Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian, flew a heavier-than-air machine at Bagatelle Field, Paris (Sept. 13).
- First airplane fatality.
Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, U.S. Army Signal Corps, was in a group
evaluating the Wright plane at Fort Myer, Va. He was up 75 ft with
Orville Wright when the propeller hit a bracing wire and was broken,
throwing the plane out of control, killing Selfridge and seriously
injuring Wright (September 17).
- First female passenger.
Mrs. Hart O. Berg, wife of the Wrights’ business manager, was the first
female passenger in an airplane, flying with Wilbur Wright (October 7).
- First cross-Channel flight.
Louis Blériot flew in a 25-horsepower Blériot VI monoplane from Les
Baraques near Calais, France, to Dover Castle, England, in a 26.61-mile
(38-kilometer) 37-minute flight across the English Channel (July 25).
- First International Aviation Competition Meeting.
American Glenn Curtiss narrowly beat France's Louis Blériot in the main
event and won the Gordon Bennett Cup. Meet held at Rheims, France (Aug.
- First licensed woman pilot. Baroness Raymonde de la Roche of France, who learned to fly in 1909, received ticket No. 36 on March 8.
- First flight from shipboard. Lt. Eugene Ely, USN, took a Curtiss plane off from the deck of the cruiser Birmingham
at Hampton Roads, Va., and flew to Norfolk (Nov. 14). The following
January he reversed the process, flying from Camp Selfridge to the deck
of the armored cruiser Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay (Jan. 18).
- First aircraft to take off from water. Henri Fabre in a Gnome-powered floatplane, at Martigues, France (March 28).
- First air-to-ground-radio.
James McCurdy, in a Curtiss biplane, sent and received radio messages
on August 27. A similar event occured on an unknown date this year when
Elmo Pickerill sent what is claimed to be the first air-to-ground
telegraph during a flight from Mineola to Manhattan Beach, New York.
First U.S. woman pilot. Harriet Quimby, a magazine writer, got ticket No. 37, making her the second licensed female pilot in the world.
- First woman's cross-Channel flight.
Harriet Quimby flew from Dover, England, across the English Channel and
landed at Hardelot, France, in a Blériot monoplane loaned to her by
Louis Blériot (April 16). She was later killed in a flying accident over
Dorchester Bay during a Harvard-Boston aviation meet on July 1, 1912.
- First parachute jump from a powered airplane.
Albert Berry jumped in a test over Jefferson Barracks military post,
St. Louis (March 1). Some sources credit Grant Morton as making first
jump in 1911.
First multi-engined aircraft. Built and flown by Igor Ivan Sikorsky while still in his native Russia.
First upside down. Lincoln Beachey, in a custom built Curtiss over Coronado, California, was the first to fly upside down (Nov. 18).
First air raids on England. German zeppelins dropped bombs on four English communities (Jan. 19).
First catapult launch. Lt. Cmdr. Henry C. Mustin made the first catapult launch from a moving ship, the USS North Carolina underway on Pensacola Bay, Florida (Nov. 5)
First U.S. air squadron.
The U.S. Army Air Corps made its first independent raids over enemy
lines, in DH-4 planes (British-designed) powered with 400-hp
American-designed Liberty engines (April 8).
First regular airmail service.
Operated for the Post Office Department by the Army, the first regular
service was inaugurated with one round trip a day (except Sunday)
between Washington, D.C. and New York City (May 15). By the way: the
pilot on the first airmail route flew in the wrong direction, crash
landed in Maryland instead of landing as planned in Philadelphia. As a
result, the U.S. airmail pouch had to be delivered by train...
- First free-fall parachute jump.
Leslie Irvin jumped over McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, to prove that one
won't lose consciousness during a delayed free-fall using a manually
operated parachute (April 28).
- First transatlantic flight.
The NC-4, one of four 84 knots US Navy/Curtiss flying boats commanded
by Lt. Comdr. Albert C. Read, reached Lisbon, Portugal (May 27), after
hops from Trepassy Bay, Newfoundland, Canada to Horta, Azores (May
16–17), to Ponta Delgada (May 20). The Liberty-powered craft was piloted
by Walter Hinton.
- First nonstop transatlantic flight.
Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Whitten Brown, British World War I
flyers, made the 1,900-mile trip from St. John's, Newfoundland, to
Clifden, Ireland, in 16 hr., 12 min. in a Vickers-Vimy bomber with two
350-horsepower Rolls-Royce engines (June 15–16).
- First lighter-than-air transatlantic flight.
The British dirigible R-34, commanded by Maj. George H. Scott, left
Firth of Forth, Scotland (July 2), and touched down at Mineola, L.I.,
108 hr. later. The eastbound trip was made in 75 hr. (completed July
- First reversible-pitch propeller. The first reversible-pitch propeller was successfully tested at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio (October 30).
- First scheduled London–Paris passenger service (using airplanes).
Aircraft Travel and Transport inaugurated London–Paris service (Aug.
25). Later the company started the first trans-Channel mail service on
the same route (Nov. 10).
- First U.S. black female pilot. Bessie Coleman received license June 15. Was killed April 30, 1926, in flying accident.
- First naval vessel sunk by aircraft.
Two battleships being scrapped by treaty were sunk by bombs dropped
from Army planes in demonstration put on by Brig. Gen. William S.
Mitchell (July 21).
- First air-to-air refueling.
The first air-to-air refueling was made when Wesley May stepped from
the wing of one biplane to the wing of another with a five-gallon can of
gasoline strapped to his back (Nov. 12).
- First helium balloon.
The C-7, nonrigid Navy dirigible was first to use noninflammable helium
as lifting gas, making a flight from Hampton Roads, Va., to Washington,
D.C. (Dec. 1).
- First ship-borne takeoff. U.S. Navy Lt. Virgil C. Griffin, in a Vought VE-7SF [A987], took off from the USS Langley moored at York River, Virginia. This was the first ship-borne takeoff (October 17).
- First member of Caterpillar Club.
Lt. (later Maj. Gen.) Harold Harris bailed out of a crippled plane he
was testing at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio (October 20), and became the
first man to join the Caterpillar Club - those whose lives have been
saved by parachutes.
- First ship landing. U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Godfrey Chevalier, in an Aeromarine 39-B, landed on the USS Langley, in the first ship landing (October 26). He was fatally injured in a crash two weeks later.
- First nonstop transcontinental flight.
Lts. John A. Macready and Oakley Kelly flew a single-engine Fokker T-2
nonstop from New York to San Diego, a distance of just over 2,500 mi in
26 hr., 50 min. (May 2-3).
- First autogyro flight.
Juan de la Cierva, a brilliant Spanish mathematician, made the first
successful flight in a rotary wing aircraft in Madrid (June 9).
- First round-the-world flight. Four Douglas World Cruiser (DWC)
amphibian biplanes of the U.S. Army Air Corps (Lt. Lowell Smith, Lt.
Leslie Arnold, Ct. Erik Nelson, and Lt. John Harding) took off from
Seattle under command of Maj. Frederick Martin (April 6). 175 days
later, two of the planes (Chicago & New Orleans - Lt. Lowell Smith's
and Lt. Erik Nelson's) landed in Seattle (Sept. 28) after a circuitous
route - one source saying 26,345 mi, another saying 27,553 mi.
- First polar flight.
Then Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd, acting as navigator, and Floyd Bennett
as pilot, flew a Trimotor Fokker from Kings Bay, Spitsbergen, over the
North Pole and back in 15 1/2 hr. (May 8-9).
- First solo nonstop transatlantic flight. Charles Augustus Lindbergh lifted his Wright-powered Ryan monoplane (220 horsepower), Spirit of St. Louis,
from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, N.Y., to stay aloft 33 hr. 39 min.
and travel 3,600 mi. to Le Bourget Airfield outside Paris, France (May
20–21). Although 91 persons in 13 separate flights crossed the Atlantic
before him, he flew directly between two great world cities and did it
- First transatlantic passenger.
Charles A. Levine was piloted by Clarence D. Chamberlin from Roosevelt
Field, N.Y., to Eisleben, Germany, in a Wright-powered Bellanca (June
- First east-west transatlantic crossing.
Baron Guenther von Huenefeld, piloted by German Capt. Hermann Koehl and
Irish Capt. James Fitzmaurice, left Dublin for New York City (April 12)
in a single-engine all-metal Junkersmonoplane. Some 37 hr. later, they
crashed on Greely Island, Labrador. Rescued.
- First U.S.-Australia flight.
Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and Capt. Charles T. P. Ulm, Australians,
and two American navigators, Harry W. Lyon and James Warner, crossed the
Pacific from Oakland to Brisbane. They went via Hawaii and the Fiji
Islands in a trimotor Fokker (May 31-June 8).
- First transarctic flight.
Sir Hubert Wilkins, an Australian explorer, and Carl Ben Eielson, who
served as pilot, flew from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Spitsbergen
- First of the endurance records.
With Air Corps Maj. Carl Spaatz in command and Capt. Ira Eaker as chief
pilot, an Army Fokker, aided by refueling in the air, remained aloft
150 hr. 40 min. at Los Angeles (Jan. 1-7).
- First round-the-world airship flight. The LZ-127, known as the Graf Zeppelin, flew 21,300 mi in 20 days and 4 hr. Also set distance record (Aug.).
- First blind flight.
James H. Doolittle proved the feasibility of instrument-guided flying
when he took off and landed entirely on instruments (Sept. 24).
- First rocket-engine flight.
Fritz von Opel, a German auto maker, stayed aloft in his small
rocket-powered craft for 75 sec., covering nearly 2 mi (Sept. 30).
- First South Pole flight.
Comdr. Richard E. Byrd, with Bernt Balchen as pilot, Harold I. June,
radio operator, and Capt. A. C. McKinley, photographer, flew a trimotor
Fokker from the Bay of Whales, Little America, over the South Pole and
back (Nov. 28–29).
- First Paris-New York nonstop flight.
Dieudonné Costes and Maurice Bellonte, French pilots, flew a
Hispano-powered Breguet biplane from Le Bourget Field to Valley Stream,
L.I., in 37 hr., 18 min. (Sept. 2-3).
- First flight into the stratosphere.
Auguste Piccard, a Swiss physicist, and Charles Knipfer ascended in a
balloon from Augsburg, Germany, and reached a height of 51,793 ft in a
17-hr. flight that terminated on a glacier near Innsbruck, Austria (May
- First nonstop transpacific flight. Was made by Hugh Herndon and Major Clyde Pangborn
in their Bellanca cabin monoplane Miss Veedol. The flight was from
Sabishiro Beach, Japan to Wenatchee, Wash., USA (October 4-5). They flew
4,860 mi in 41 hr. 13 min.
- 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 hr. (May 20-21).
- First westbound transatlantic solo.
James A. Mollison, a British pilot, took a de Havilland Puss Moth from
Portmarnock, Ireland, to Pennfield, New Brunswick, Canada (Aug. 18).
- First woman airline pilot.
Ruth Rowland Nichols, first woman to hold three international records
at the same time - speed, distance, and altitude - was employed by
N.Y.-New England Airways.
- First round-the-world solo. Wiley Post took a Lockheed Vega monoplane, Winnie Mae, 15,596 mi around the world in 4 days, 19 hr., 36 min. (completed July 23).
- First successful helicopter flight.
Hanna Reitsch, a German pilot, flew Dr. Heinrich Focke's FW-61 in free,
fully controlled flight at Bremen (July 4). Ms. Reitsch was also the
first woman civil and military aviation test pilot.
- First woman known to fly combat. Sabiha Gokcen, Turkish female army pilot, bombed and strafed Kurdish tribesmen during a rebellion.
- First transcontinental lightplane flight.
John M. “Johnnie” Jones flew the first transcontinental nonstop
lightplane flight in an Aeronca KCA, from Los Angeles to New York, 2,785
statute miles in 30 hours, 47 minutes (Nov. 29).
- First turbojet flight.
The Heinkel He 178 was the first airplane to fly with a jet engine.
German engineer Hans von Ohain developed the HeS 38 jet engine that
powered the airplane at 400 miles per hour (Aug. 24).
- First wartime use of military gliders. German commandos made a successful glider assault on Belgium's Fort Eben-Emael during WWII (May 10).
- First woman to ferry a bomber. Jacqueline Cochran made a bomber ferry flight across the Atlantic on July 1. In 1953 she became the first woman to break the sound barrier.
- Most combat missions flown by a pilot in any war.
Captain Hans-Ulrich Rudel of Germany flew 2,530 combat missions during
WWII while flying a JU-87 Stuka dive bomber. He survived the war.
- Top-scoring fighter pilot of any war.
German Luftwaffe ace Maj. Erich Hartmann scored 352 victories all while
flying a Messerschmitt BF 109 during WWII. He was involved in 800
dogfights, and flew 1,425 missions. Maj. Hartmann survived the war.
- First enemy bombing of U.S. mainland.
During WWII, a floatplane launched from a Japanese submarine off Cape
Blanco, Ore., dropped incendiary bombs on the Oregon forest in two
attempts to start forest fires and terrorize American civilians, but the
bombs did little damage (Sept. 9 and 29).
- First American jet plane flight. Robert Stanley, chief pilot for Bell Aircraft Corp., flew the Bell XP-59 Airacomet at Muroc Army Base, Calif. (Oct. 1).
- First woman fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft.
Soviet Lieutenant Lilya Litvyak, flying a Yak-1 fighter of the women's
586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, shot down two German planes over
Stalingrad on Sept. 13, 1942.
- 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.
- First radar-equipped control tower for civilian aviation is demonstrated at Weir Cook Municipal Airport in Indianapolis.
- First piloted supersonic flight in an airplane.
Capt. Charles E. Yeager, U.S. Air Force, flew the X-1 rocket-powered
research plane built by Bell Aircraft Corp., faster than the speed of
sound at Muroc Air Force Base, Calif. (Oct. 14).
- 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: 23,452 mi in 94 hr., 1 min., with four aerial refuelings en
route (Feb. 27–March 2).
- First nonstop transatlantic jet flight. Col. David C. Schilling (USAF) flew 3,300 mi from England to Limestone, Maine, in 10 hr., 1 min. (Sept. 22).
- First solo across North Pole. Charles F. Blair, Jr., flew a converted P-51 (May 29).
- First jetliner service.
The De Havilland Comet flight was inaugurated by BOAC between London
and Johannesburg, South Africa (May 2). Flight, including stops, took 23
hr., 38 min.
- First transatlantic helicopter flight.
Capt. Vincent H. McGovern and 1st Lt. Harold W. Moore piloted two
Sikorsky H-19s from Westover, Mass., to Prestwick, Scotland (3,410 mi).
Trip was made in five stops, with a flying time of 42 hr., 25 min. (July
- First transatlantic round trip in same day.
A British Canberra twin-jet bomber flew from Aldergrove, Northern
Ireland, to Gander, Newfoundland, and back in 7 hr., 59 min. flying time
- First transcontinental round trip in same day.
Lt. John M. Conroy piloted an F-86 Sabrejet across U.S. (Los
Angeles–New York) and back—5,085 mi—in 11 hr., 33 min., 27 sec. (May
- First round-the-world nonstop jet plane flight.
Maj. Gen. Archie J. Old, Jr., USAF, led a flight of three Boeing B-52
bombers, powered with eight 10,000-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney
Aircraft J57 engines around the world in 45 hr., 19 min; distance 24,325
mi; average speed 525 mph (completed Jan. 18).
- First transatlantic jet passenger service. BOAC, New York to London (Oct. 4). Pan American started daily service, New York to Paris (Oct. 26).
- First domestic jet passenger service. National Airlines inaugurated service between New York and Miami (Dec. 10).
- Prototype of world's first supersonic airliner. The Soviet-designed Tupolev Tu-144 made its first flight, Dec. 31. It first achieved supersonic speed on June 5, 1969.
- First commercial airliner to exceed Mach 2 - This was also the Tupolev Tu-144, and it exceeded Mach 2 on 26 May 1970.
- First female pilot of a major U.S. scheduled airline. Emily H. Warner became employed by Frontier Airlines on Jan. 29 as second officer on a Boeing 737.
- First regularly scheduled commercial supersonic transport (BAC/Aérospatiale Concorde) flights begin.
Air France and British Airways inaugurated service (Jan. 21). Air
France flew the Paris–Rio de Janeiro route; B.A., the London–Bahrain.
Both airlines began SST service to Washington, D.C. (May 24).
- First successful human-powered aircraft.
Paul MacCready, an aeronautical engineer from Pasadena, Calif., was
awarded the Kremer Prize for creating the world's first successful
human-powered aircraft. The Gossamer Condor was flown by Bryan Allen over the required 3-mile course on Aug. 23.
- First successful transatlantic balloon flight.
Three Albuquerque, N.M., men, Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, and Maxie
Anderson, completed the crossing (Aug. 16.; landed, Aug. 17) in their
helium-filled balloon, Double Eagle II.
- First man-powered aircraft to fly across the English Channel. The Kremer Prize for the Channel crossing was won by Bryan Allen, who flew the Gossamer Albatross from Folkestone, England, to Cap Gris-Nez, France, in 2 hr., 55 min. (June 12).
- First successful balloon flight over the North Pole. Sidney Conn and his wife, Eleanor, in hot-air balloon Joy of Sound (April 11).
- First nonstop transcontinental balloon flight,
and also record for longest overland voyage in a balloon. Maxie
Anderson and his son, Kris, completed four-day flight from Fort Baker,
Calif., to successful landing outside Matane, Quebec, in their
helium-filled balloon, Kitty Hawk (May 12).
- First long-distance solar-powered flight. Janice Brown, a 98-pound former teacher, flew a tiny experimental solar-powered aircraft, Solar Challenger, 6 mi in 22 min. near Marana, Ariz. (Dec. 3). The craft was powered by a 2.75-horsepower engine.
- First solar-powered aircraft to fly across the English Channel. Stephen R. Ptacek flew the 210-pound Solar Challenger
at an average speed of 30 mph from Cormeilles-en-Vexin near Paris to
the Royal Manston Air Force Base in southeast England in 5 hr., 30 min.
- First solo flight of aeRoman ;-) in a Cessna 152 (April 12), which also was used on October 24, when the examination flight for the PPL took place (D-EDSZ).
- First solo transatlantic balloon flight. Joe W. Kittinger landed Sept. 18 near Savona, Italy, in his helium-filled balloon, Rosie O'Grady's Balloon of Peace, after a flight of 3,535 mi from Caribou, Maine.
- First nonstop flight around the world without refueling. From Edwards AFB, Calif., Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew in Voyager around the world (24,986.727 mi), returning to Edwards in 216 hr., 3 min., 44 sec. (Dec. 14–23).
- First transatlantic hot-air balloon flight. Richard Branson and Per Lindstrom flew 2,789.6 mi from Sugarloaf Mt., Maine, to Ireland in the hot-air balloon Virgin Atlantic Flyer (July 2–4).
- First transpacific hot-air balloon flight.
Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand flew about 6,700 mi from Miyakonyo,
Japan, to 150 mi west of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
- First woman to copilot a commercial supersonic plane. Barbara Harmer, British Airways, flew as first officer on the Concorde from London to New York City (March 25).
- First solo transpacific balloon flight.
Steve Fossett made a flight of more than 5,430 mi from Seoul, South
Korea, to Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada, in a helium-filled balloon. Also
set record for distance (Feb. 18–21, 1995).
- First U.S. female combat pilot to bomb an enemy target. On Dec. 16, Lt. Kendra Williams, USN, bombed enemy targets over Iraq during Operation Desert Fox.
- First nonstop round-the-world balloon flight.
Bertrand Piccard (Switzerland) and Brian Jones (UK) flew 28,431 mi
(45,755 km) from Chateaux d'Oex, Switzerland, to Dakhla, Egypt, in 19
days, 21 hr., and 55 min. (March 1–21).
- First solar-powered flight to shatter altitude records. NASA's solar-powered propeller-driven plane Helios
reached an altitude of 96,500 ft during a flight over Hawaii, breaking
not only the 80,200-foot record for propeller-driven aircraft, but the
85,068-foot mark for all nonrocket aircraft as well (Aug. 13–14).
- First solo, nonstop round-the-world balloon flight. Steve Fossett (U.S.) 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, measured by crossing 117° East longitude
(13 days, 3 min.), longest distance flown solo (20,483.25 mi; 32,963.35
km), and longest time flown solo (355 hrs, 50 min.) (June 19–July 3).
Updated May 2005
- First civilian space flight. On June 21 Mike Melvill (U.S.) became the world’s first civilian astronaut, piloting the first non-governmental flight (SpaceShipOne)
to leave the earth’s atmosphere to an altitude of over 62 miles. This
was a true landmark flight in aviation history, demonstrating that space
travel is now within the reach of private enterprise.
- First solo, nonstop round-the-world airplane flight. The flight was completed in 67 hours and 2 minutes and 38 seconds. The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer,
piloted by Steve Fossett, took off for its round-the-world record
attempt from Salina Airport, Kansas at 18:47:10 CST (00:47:10 UTC) on
Monday, February 28 and landed at Salina, Kansas on Thursday, March 3 at
13:50 CST (19:50 UTC).
- First Test Flight of a double-decker "superjumbo". The Airbus A380
took off in Toulouse, France on Wednesday, April 27 at 10:29 a.m.
(08:29 UTC) and touched down safely in Toulouse at 2:22 p.m. (12:22 UTC)
after a nearly four-hour test flight with six crew members aboard.
"Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying."
-- Neil Armstrong