The 1930s were a tough time for many people in the United States. The Great Depression had hit, and jobs were scarce. But even in those difficult times, some people found ways to pursue their dreams. One of those dreams was flight.
For some, flying was simply a way to escape the hard realities of life on the ground. For others, it was a way to make a living. Either way, those who took to the skies during the Depression era helped to shape the future of air travel.
Here is a timeline of some of the most important events in aviation during the Great Depression:
January 10-11, 1934 Six Consolidated P2Y-1 flying boats make a nonstop formation flight from San Francisco to Honolulu.
January 18, 1934 Qantas is established as an airline in Australia.
February 18-19, 1934 Eddie Rickenbacker and Jack Frye set a passenger transport record in the DC-1, flying from Los Angeles to New York in 13 hours and 2 minutes, to protest President Franklin Roosevelt's cancellation of airmail contracts.
February 19, 1934 President Franklin Roosevelt cancels airline airmail contracts; the U.S. Army Air Corps will fly the mail.
February 28-April 25, 1934 Laura Ingalls completes a solo tour of South America in a Lockheed Air Express.
April 11, 1934 Commander Renato Donati flies a Caproni 113 to a world altitude record of 47,352 feet.
April 16, 1934 Northwest Airways becomes Northwest Orient Airlines.
April 17, 1934 Eastern Air Transport becomes Eastern Airlines.
April 17, 1934 The de Havilland D.H.89 Dragon Rapide makes its first flight.
April 17, 1934 The Fairey Swordfish, the immortal "Stringbag," prototype makes its first flight.
May 8-23, 1934 Jean Batten beats Amy Johnson's England-Australia solo record by flying the same distance in 14 days, 22 hours, and 30 minutes.
May 13, 1934 Jack Frye sets a coast-to-coast record of 11 hours, 31 minutes in a DC-1.
May 13, 1934 American Airways becomes American Airlines.
June 1, 1934 The Air Corps ceases to deliver airmail.
June 5, 1934 William G. Swan, piloting a glider powered by 12 rockets, attains an altitude of 200 feet in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
June 18, 1934 Engineers begin designing the Boeing Model 299X, which will eventually become the B-17 Flying Fortress.
July 9, 1934 "Sleeper service" is inaugurated on Curtiss Wright Condors on the Chicago-New York route.
July 19, 1934 Curtiss Sparrowhawks, without landing gear, fly from the USS Macon on scouting expeditions.
July 19-August 20, 1934 Lieutenant Colonel H. H. Arnold leads ten Martin B-10s from Bolling Field to Fairbanks, Alaska, on a photographic survey.
July 28, 1934 Major W. E. Kepner and Captains A. W. Stevens and O. A. Anderson reach 60,613 feet in a balloon; the balloon collapses, and the men bail out.
September 1, 1934 Roscoe Turner flies from coast-to-coast in the record time of ten hours, two minutes.
September 9, 1934 The American Rocket Society flies a liquid-fueled rocket to just under 1,400 feet at Staten Island, New York.
September 12, 1934 The Gloster Gladiator prototype flies for the first time. It will be the last biplane fighter of the RAF.
October 7, 1934 The Tupelov SB-1, an advanced bomber superior to the Martin B-10, flies for the first time.
October 20-24, 1934 The great England to Australia race for the MacRobertson prize begins. The winner is the de Havilland D.H. 88 Comet Grosvenor House.
October 22-November 4, 1934 Charles Kingsford Smith and Patrick Gordon Taylor make the first flight from Australia to the United States in a Lockheed Altair.
October 23, 1934 Francesco Agello sets a world speed record of 440.68 miles per hour in a Macchi Castoldi MC.72 seaplane. His record still stands for floatplanes.
November 8, 1934 Eddie Rickenbacker sets a new coast-to-coast record for commercial aircraft in a DC-1. Flying time is 12 hours, 3 minutes, and 50 seconds.
December 5, 1934 The Italo-Ethiopian War begins.