Dawn of Flight Timeline

The Wright Brothers finally achieved what many people had dreamed about. See more flight pictures.
Wright State University Archives

400 b.c. Egyptian model glider is made (found in 1898). circa 400 b.c. Mo Tzu invents the kite in China.

circa 400 b.c. Archytas builds a small wooden bird that is suspended from an arm and propelled by either steam or compressed air.


Flight Pictures

a.d. 62 Hero's "Aeolipile" steam-driven sphere illustrates reactive propulsion. 400 The Chinese rotary-wing top is flown; it is the first human-made object of any kind flown under power. 600 The Chinese use kites as part of a semaphore signaling device. 850 The Chinese invent gunpowder. 1250 Roger Bacon predicts the creation of an orni­thopter and a lighter-than-air craft. 1306 Parachute jumps are made in China during the coronation of Fo-kin. 1483 Leonardo da Vinci produces his "Helix," the design sketch of a helicopter. 1670 Francesco de Lana-Terzi designs a lighter-than-air machine using thin-wall copper tubes evacuated of air.

1687 Sir Isaac Newton formulates the Laws of Motion, which include the third law "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

1709 Bartholomeu Lourenço de Gusmão demonstrates a hot-air balloon model in Lisbon. Some say he may also have demonstrated a glider.

1781 Karl Friedrich Meerwein designs, builds, and purportedly flies a glider-ornithopter. 1782 The Montgolfiers fly a model balloon. April 25, 1783 The Montgolfiers fly a full-scale balloon without passengers. August 27, 1783 Professor Jacques Charles releases an unpiloted hydrogren balloon and begins an era of Charliers. September 19, 1783 The Montgolfier brothers launch a balloon carrying a sheep, a cock, and a duck at Versailles. October 15, 1783 Francois Pilâtre de Rozier ascends in a tethered hot-air balloon to become the first aeronaut. November 21, 1783 Francois Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes make the first free flight in a balloon. December 1, 1783 Professor Jacques Charles and M. Robert make the first hydrogen balloon free flight. January 7, 1785 Jean-Pierre Blanchard and Dr. John Jeffries cross the English Channel in a hydrogen balloon. June 15, 1785 Francois Pilâtre de Rozier and Jules Romain are killed while trying to cross the English Channel in a combination hot-air/hydrogen balloon. January 9, 1793 Jean-Pierre Blanchard makes the first balloon ascent in America. June 26, 1794 A balloon is used in warfare for the first time at the Battle of Fleurus. October 22, 1797 Andre Garnerin successfully parachutes from 3,000 feet. 1799 Sir George Cayley produces an airplane design with fixed wings and a cruciform tail. 1804 Sir George Cayley constructs a model glider. October 8, 1808 Congreve rockets are used to attack the French in a harbor at Boulogne. 1814 The British use Congreve rockets against Fort McHenry in Baltimore, inspiring the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner." July 6, 1819 Madame Marie Blanchard becomes the first woman to die in an aero accident when her hydrogen balloon catches fire. November 7-8, 1836 Charles Green and two passengers fly a hot-air balloon from London to Germany, 480 miles, in 18 hours. 1840 William Hale invents spin-stabilized rockets.


1843-1901 Flight Timeline

The Wright glider­.
Wright State University Archives

­1843 William Henson patents the Aerial Steam Carriage, a proposal for a practical flying machine.

1849 Sir George Cayley tests the first glider to carry a person.


August 22, 1849 Austria uses hot-air balloons to bomb Venice.

June 1853 Sir George Cayley has his coachman make a free fight in a glider.

1858 Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (Nadar) takes the first aerial photograph from a balloon.

1859 John Wise and two others fly from St. Louis to Henderson, New York, in a hydrogen balloon.

1860 Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir invents the internal combustion engine, which will prove necessary for heavier-than-air flight.

1861 Thaddeus Lowe makes the first aerial telegraphic transmission from a balloon.

August 3, 1861 Fanny, a steam tug used by John La Mountain, becomes the first aircraft carrier.

October 1, 1861 The Army Balloon Corps is formed.

November 1861 The George Washington Parke Custis, a coal barge, is converted into army service as a balloon boat, a craft for inflating and launching balloons.

1862 G. P. D'Amecourt of France builds the first steam-powered model helicopter.

1862 Thaddeus Lowe uses the balloon Intrepid for observation in the Battle of Fair Oaks.

1865 Charles de Louvrie of France designs the first jet-engine plane.

1865 Jules Verne's book From the Earth to the Moon forecasts future space travel.

1867 The design for the delta wing is patented in England.

1870 During the Franco/Prussian War, balloons are used to carry mail, government papers, and important public officials to safety from the besieged city of Paris.

1870-1871 Alphonse Penaud flies model helicopters using rubber-band motors.

October 8, 1883 Albert Tissandier flies an electric-powered dirigibile.

August 9, 1884 The French army airship La France makes a closed-circuit flight on electric power.

1889 Otto Lilienthal publishes Bird Flight as the Basis of the Flying Art.

October 9, 1890 Clement Ader of France makes a hop from level ground in a steam-powered plane.

May 6, 1896 Samuel Pierpont Langley makes a success­ful flight of a steam-powered model Aerodrome.

August 10, 1896 After more than 2,000 successful flights, Otto Lilienthal dies of injuries sustained in a glider crash.

July 11, 1897 The ill-fated Salomon August Andrée expedition attempts to fly a balloon over the North Pole; three people vanish.

1899 Orville and Wilbur Wright experiment with a model biplane kite to test the key idea of wing warping.

1900 The Wright brothers produce their first glider.

July 2, 1900 Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin successfully flies his first dirigible, the LZ 1.

1901 The second Wright glider is tested at Kitty Hawk.

June 1901 Samuel Pierpont Langley makes 1/4-scale model Aerodrome and flies it successfully with an internal combustion steam engine.

August 14, 1901 Gustave Whitehead claims powered flight.

October 1901 Austrian Wilhelm Kress attempts to fly a powered heavier-than-air craft from water but fails. His is the first aeroplane with a gasoline-powered engine.

­October 19, 1901 Alberto Santos-Dumont flies a dirigible around the Eiffel Tower.


1902-1909 Flight Timeline

Wright Brothers' first flight.
Wright State University Archives

­September-October 1902 The Wright brothers test their first successful glide­r a­nd ultimately make nearly 1,000 flights.

1903 Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky advocates the use of liquid propellants for spaceships.


October 7, 1903 Samuel Pierpont Langley's full-size Aerodrome crashes on its first test fligh­t.

December 8, 1903 Samuel Pierpont Langley's Aerodrome crashes on its second flight attem­pt.

December 17, 1903 The Wright brothers achieve powered, controlled flight at Kitty Hawk.

­1904 Robert Esnault-Pelterie flies a glider with ailerons.

May 26, 1904 The Wrights start flying the Flyer II and ultimately make 105 flights.

September 20, 1904 Wilbur Wright makes a successful closed-circuit flight.

November 9, 1904 Wilbur Wright flies for more than five minutes.

June 6, 1905 Gabriel Voisin lifts off from a river in a "boxkite" glider towed by a motorboat.

June 23, 1905 The Wrights fly the Flyer III, the world's first practical airplane.

September 12, 1906 Jakob Ellehammer makes a sustained tethered flight.

September 30, 1906 Lieutenant Frank Lahm wins the Gordon Bennett Cup.

October 23, 1906 Alberto Santos-Dumont makes a short flight in his 14-bis.

November 12, 1906 Alberto Santos-Dumont makes the first officially recognized flight of a heavier-than-air plane in Europe.

1907 Horatio Phillips achieves flight in a 22-horsepower Multiplane, but the flight is never officially recognized.

July 11, 1907 Louis Blériot flies his Type VI, the Libellule, the first plane with cantilever wings.

August 1, 1907 The Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Army Signal Corps is formed.

October 26, 1907 Henri Farman sets a European distance record of 2,530 feet.

­November 13, 1907 Paul Cornu makes a short free flight in an experimental helicopter.

Late November 1907 Louis Blériot flies the Type VII, the first aircraft with a tractor engine, enclosed fuselage, a rear-mounted tail, and a two-wheel main undercarriage with tailwheel.

November 30, 1907 Curtiss Motor Vehicle Company, the first U.S. airplane company, is formed.

January 13, 1908 Henri Farman makes the first one-kilometer circuit flight in Europe, flying around a pylon 500 meters away and winning 50,000 francs.

March 12, 1908 The A.E.A. develops the Red Wing.

May 14, 1908 Charles Furnas becomes the first ever air passenger when he flies with Wilbur Wright.

May 19, 1908 Thomas Selfridge solos in an A.E.A. plane, the White Wing.

July 4, 1908 Glenn Curtiss wins the Scientific American Trophy in June Bug.

July 8, 1908 Thérèse Peltier becomes the first female air passenger.

August 8, 1908 Wilbur Wright flies at Le Mans, France.

September 3, 1908 Flight trials of the Wright military plane begin.

September 6, 1908 Leon Delagrange flies for 1/2 hour in Europe.

September 17, 1908 Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge is killed in the crash of a Wright aircraft.

Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge died and Orville Wright was severely injured in a crash of a Wright Flyer.
Wright State University Archives

October 16, 1908 American Samuel Franklin Cody makes the first airplane flight in England.

1909 The first Gnome rotary aircraft engine appears.

­1909 Robert Goddard concludes that liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen would be an excellent propellant.


1909-1911 Flight Timeline

The Model XI that took Louis Bleriot across the English Channel.
Warren M. Bodie Collection

1909 The ­king of Spain] flies in the first Spanish airship, the España.

February 23, 1909 J.A.D. McCurdy makes the first flight in Canada in the A.E.A.'s Silver Dart.


April 24, 1909 The first motion pictures are taken from an airplane piloted by Wilbur Wright in Italy.

July 13, 1909 Pioneer manufacturer A. V. Roe becomes the first Briton to fly an all-British craft in England.

July 25, 1909 Louis Blériot flies across the English Channel from Calais, France, to Dover, England.

August 27, 1909 Henri Farman becomes the first to fly a distance of 100 miles.

August 29, 1909 Glenn Curtiss wins the Gordon Bennett Cup with a speed of 47 miles per hour.

September 7, 1909 Eugène Lefebvre is the first pilot to be killed in a crash.

October 16, 1909 Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin founds Delag, the world's first commercial airline.

January 10, 1910 The first U.S. airplane meet is held at Dominguez Field, south of Los Angeles.

January 19, 1910 Army Lieutenant Paul Beck drops dummy bombs from an airplane piloted by Louis Paulhan.

March 8, 1910 Baroness Raymonde de Laroche becomes the first licensed female pilot.

March 28, 1910 Henri Fabre's seaplane makes the first flight from water.

June 2, 1910 Charles Rolls of Rolls-Royce makes a round-trip crossing of the English Channel.

June 13, 1910 Charles Hamilton wins $10,000 for completing a flight from New York to Philadelphia.

July 9, 1910 Walter Brookins flies his Wright biplane to above one mile.

July 12, 1910 Charles Rolls is killed when he crashes in his Wright Flyer.

July 31, 1910 The Bristol Boxkite flies for the first time.

August 27, 1910 J.A.D. McCurdy transmits and receives radio messages from a Curtiss biplane.

September 2, 1910 Blanche Scott is the first American woman to fly solo.

September 8, 1910 The first mid-air collision occurs in Austria.

September 23, 1910 Peruvian Georges Chavez makes the first flight over the Alps but is killed on landing.

October 14, 1910 Ralph Johnstone sets a world altitude record of 9,714 feet in a Wright biplane.

October 16, 1910 Walter Wellman fails in an attempt to fly the dirigible America across the Atlantic.

October 28, 1910 Maurice Tabuteau sets a closed circuit record of 289 miles.

November 14, 1910 Eugene Ely is the first pilot to take off from a ship, the USS Birmingham.

January 15, 1911 Lieutenant Myron Crissy and Philip Parmalee drop the first live bomb from an aircraft.

January 18, 1911 Eugene Ely makes the first landing on a ship, the deck of the USS Pennsylvania.

January 26, 1911 Glenn Curtiss operates his hydro-aeroplane in San Diego.

February 22, 1911 Airmail service starts between Allahabad and Naini Junction in India.

February 25, 1911 Glenn Curtiss taxies his amphibious airplane (with retractable landing gear) from its hangar to the water. He takes off and flies a few circuits around the bay, then extends the landing gear and lands on a beach at Coronado.

March 1911 The United States Navy establishes a naval aviation branch.

March 24, 1911 Roger Sommers carries 13 passengers in his single-engine pusher biplane for 1/2 mile.

April 11, 1911 The College Park U.S. Army Flying School is formed in College Park, Maryland. ­


1911-1913 Flight Timeline

Harriet Quimby was the first liscensed female pilot in the United States.
Warren M. Bodie Collection

May­ 21-26, 1911 Jules Vedrines wins a difficult European race of 842 miles in a Morane-Saulnier Monoplane.

July 1, 1911­ The first U.S. Navy plane, the Triad, is flown.


July 22-26, 1911 The Daily Mail's £10,000 "Round Britain" race takes place.

August 2, 1911 Harriet Quimby becomes the first female American pilot.

September 5, 1911 Roland Garros sets a world altitude record of 13,945 feet in a Bléroit.

September 9, 1911 The first aerial postal service is inaugurated in England.

September 11, 1911 The first British dirigible, the Mayfly, fails to lift off on its first flight attempt.

September 17, 1911 Cal Rodgers embarks on a flight from New York to California.

September 23, 1911 Earle Ovington makes the first U.S. airmail flight.

September 24, 1911 The Mayfly breaks up during a second flight attempt.

November 1, 1911 Italian pilot Giulio Cavotti drops bombs on Turkish troops in Libya. It is the first wartime bombing.

November 5, 1911 Cal Rodgers completes his transcontinental flight, becoming the first person to cross the United States by airplane.

1912 Denmark's Jacob Ellehammer demonstrates cyclic control.

1912 The U.S. Army purchases six Burgess tractors, the first tractor-type biplane.

January 10, 1912 Glenn Curtiss flies the first flying boat, a pusher with a canard surface.

April 16, 1912 Harriet Quimby flies the English Channel in a Blériot.

May 1, 1912 A. V. Roe flies the first aircraft with a fully enclosed cabin.

May 13, 1912 Britain forms the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

May 30, 1912 Wilbur Wright dies from typhoid fever at the age of 45.

June 7, 1912 Charles Chandler fires a machine gun from a Wright Model B biplane.

June 21, 1912 Tiny Broadwick becomes the first American female parachutist.

July 1, 1912 Harriet Quimby and passenger William Willard die in an accident at the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet.

September 10, 1912 A Coanda Military Monoplane crashes, killing Lieutenants Hotchkiss and Bennington of the RFC.

October 1, 1912 The Military Aviation Service, a precursor to the Luftwaffe (air force), is formed in Germany.

November 12, 1912 Navy Lieutenant Theodore G. Ellyson is catapault-launched from an anchored barge.

1913 The U.S. Army establishes its first permanent aviation school at North Island in San Diego.

February 6, 1913 Frank T. Coffyn affixes aluminum floats to a Wright Model B for the first hydro flight in a Wright Flyer.

March 5, 1913 The first U.S. Aero Squadron is formed.

April 16, 1913 The 1913 Monaco Hydroaeroplane main event, the first Schneider Trophy race, is held. It is an individual time trials event in which pilots attempt to fly 174 miles in the shortest time. Maurice Prévost wins in a Deperdussin.

April 17, 1913 Gustav Hamel flies nonstop from Dover, England, to Cologne, Germany.

May 10, 1913 Didier Mason, a French-born American mercenary, bombs Mexican gunships.

May 13, 1913 Igor Sikorsky flies Le Grand, the first four-engine aircraft.

June 1913 Glenn L. Martin delivers his first aeroplane--a Model TT--to the U.S. Army.

August 27, 1913 Peter Nesterov performs the first aerial loop.

September 18, 1913 The immortal Avro 504 flies for the first time.

September 21, 1913 Adolphe Pégoud makes the first sustained inverted flight.

September 23, 1913 Roland Garros crosses the Mediterranean in a Morane-Saulnier monoplane, traveling 588 miles in 7 hours, 53 minutes.

September 29, 1913 Maurice Prévost, flying a Deperdussin "monocoque," wins the Gordon Bennett Cup with a speed of 126.67 miles per hour.

November 18, 1913 Lincoln Beachey executes the first loop-the-loop ever accomplished in the United States.

­December 28, 1913 Georges Legagneux achieves an altitude of 20,079 feet, logging the first altitude record above 20,000 feet.