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World War I Flight Timeline

1918-1920 Flight Timeline

The Martin Bomber was the first American-made bomber.
The Martin Bomber was the first American-made bomber.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

August ­17, 1918 The Martin GMB, the first American-made bomber, makes its first flight.

August 21, 1918 The Nieuport 29, one of most important fighters of the 1920s, flies for the first time.


September 12-15, 1918 The Battle of St. Mihiel marks the largest deployment of aircraft in a single operation to date. Billy Mitchell commands 1,480 aircraft (including those in the service of French, British, U.S., and Italian air forces).

September 18, 1918 Major Rudolph Schroeder sets a world altitude record of 28,890 feet at McCook Field.

September 25, 1918 Eddie Rickenbacker earns the Medal of Honor for success in combat.

September 26, 1918 Leading French ace, Captain René Fonck, shoots down six German planes in one day, including four Fokker D VIIs.

September 28, 1918 Renegade Frank Luke is killed after shooting down 3 balloons to bring his total score to 21. As the second-ranking American ace, he receives a posthumous Medal of Honor.

October 2, 1918 The Kettering Bug, an early guided missile, makes its first flight.

October 24, 1918 The Fokker D VIII arrives at the front.

October 27, 1918 Major William Barker engages in an epic dogfight with 15 Fokker D VIIs. He scores three victories before he is shot down and wounded; he is awarded the Victoria Cross.

November 6-7, 1918 Robert Goddard demonstrates rockets before the military.

November 11, 1918 The armistice ends World War I.

December 4-22, 1918 Four JN-4s fly coast-to-coast.

1919 Many military aircraft are modified for civil use as transports, mail planes, and personal craft.

1919 The first Lawson airliner is designed.

February 5, 1919 The first sustained airline service starts with Deutsche Luft-Reederei between Berlin and Weimar, Germany.

March 1919 International air service opens between Vienna and Padua, Italy.

March 22, 1919 The first regular international passenger service begins between Paris and Brussels by Lignes Aeriennes Farman.

May 26, 1919 Robert H. Goddard's report on "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes" is published by the Smithsonian Institution.

May 31, 1919 A Curtiss NC-4 completes the first transatlantic crossing.

June 14-15, 1919 John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown make the first nonstop transatlantic flight in a Vickers Vimy.

July 2-13, 1919 The British Army R-34 airship makes a transatlantic round-trip flight.

October 24, 1919 Aeromarine opens an airline between Key West, Florida, and Cuba with three flying boats.

December 10, 1919 Ross and Keith Smith fly a Vickers Vimy from England to Australia.

1920 Zeppelin-Staaken's 18-passenger, 4-engine all-metal airliner is ready to test.

January 1920 Raymond Orteig offers a $25,000 prize to the first pilot who can make a nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

February 7, 1920 Joseph Sadi-Lecointe sets a world speed record of 171 miles per hour in a Nieuport 29.

February 27, 1920 Major R. W. Schroeder sets an altitude record of 33,113 feet in a Liberty-powered LePere.

May 1, 1920 The U.S. Navy begins experimental work with all-metal structures.

May 26, 1920 The Boeing G.A.-X twin-engine attack triplane is tested.

­May 31, 1920 Italian pilots Arturo Ferrarin and Guido Masiero fly from Rome to Tokyo in SVA.9 biplanes.