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World War I Flight Timeline

1916 Flight Timeline

The Sopwith Triplane was perhaps more famous for the planes that imitated it than it was in its own right.
The Sopwith Triplane was perhaps more famous for the planes that imitated it than it was in its own right.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 1916 The first aero squadron to serve outside the United States, 1st Company, 2nd Aero Squadron, sails from San Francisco to the Philippines.

Januar­y 12, 1916 German fighter aces Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann receive the Pour le Mérite (Blue Max) medal.


January 13, 1916 Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company Incorporated is formed in Buffalo, New York.

January 21, 1916 The Navy begins experimenting with aircraft radio at Pensacola.

February 9, 1916 Captain A. D. Smith flies a Martin S (Hall Scott engine) to set a world hydroaeroplane record of 8 hours, 42 minutes.

February 12, 1916 The U.S. Post Office seeks bids for carrying the mail by air in Massachusetts and Alaska.

March 16, 1916 The 1st Aero Squadron, commanded by Captain B. D. Foulois, becomes the first U.S. tactical air unit in the field.

March 29, 1916 Lieutenant R. C. Saufley sets an American altitude record of 16,010 feet for hydroaeroplanes at Pensacola.

April 1916 The French use air-to-air rockets for the first time, firing Le Prieur rockets from a Nieuport fighter.

April 7, 1916 Captain B. D. Foulois and Lieutenant Dargue are fired on by Mexican troops at Chihauahua City.

April 20, 1916 American pilots form Escadrille Americaine to fight in France. The name is changed to Lafayette Escadrille in November after German protest (they did not want Americans to come into the war on the side of France).

May 18, 1916 Kiffin Rockwell scores the first victory for Escadrille Americaine.

May 22, 1916 Albert Ball scores his first two victories.

May 28, 1916 The Sopwith Triplane makes its first flight.

June 9, 1916 Lieutenant R. C. Saufley sets an endu­rance record of 8 hours, 51 minutes, then crashes to his death.

June 18, 1916 German ace Max Immelmann is killed.

June 18, 1916 H. Clyde Balsley of Escadrille Americaine is the first American to be shot down; he survives.

June 23, 1916 Victor Chapman of Escadrille Americaine is the first American killed.

June 29, 1916 The first Boeing aircraft, the Boeing B & W, flies.

August 1916 A prototype D.H.4 flies.

August 6, 1916 René Fonck gains his first victory; he will become the leading French ace of the war.

August 7, 1916 The Wright-Martin Aircraft Company is formed after the first of many mergers in the aviation industry.

September 1916 The French SPAD VII enters service.

September 2, 1916 The first plane-to-plane radio contact is established over North Island, California, when telegraph messages are exchanged between two aircraft two miles apart.

September 2, 1916 The first German Zeppelin is shot down over England.

September 5, 1916 Leefe Robinson is awarded the Victoria Cross for destroying a German dirigible.

September 12, 1916 Sperry Company and P. C. Hewitt demonstrate guided missile equipment.

September 17, 1916 Baron Manfred von Richthofen gains the first of his 80 victories.

September 23, 1916 Eleven Zeppelins raid England.

October 7, 1916 H. E. Honeywell wins the National Balloon Race with a flight from Muskogee, Oklahoma, to Cascade, Iowa--a distance of 866 kilometers.

October 12, 1916 Tony Jannus, the famous test pilot who piloted the first airliner, is killed demonstrating Benoist planes in Russia.

­October 28, 1916 Leading German ace Oswald Boelcke is killed in a midair collision with Erwin Böhme, a member of his own unit.