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.