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Saturday, 7 February 2015



In 1507, John Damian, court alchemist to James IV of Scotland, built himself a pair of wings and tried to fly from the ramparts of Stirling Castle. He hit the ground and broke his leg, blaming it on his use of feathers from fowl unused to flying.

The Montgolfier brothers' hot air balloon marked the first human ascent, by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier in 1783.

On September 24, 1852, French engineer Henri Giffard made the first ever powered and controlled flight in his steam-powered hydrogen-filled airship. He flew 17 miles from Paris to Trappes.

The Aeronautical Society Of Great Britain was established on January 12, 1866. Back then, the only means of flying was by balloon.

Orville and Wilbur Wright designed and built the first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air airplane in Dayton, Ohio. The brothers took to the air for the first time (see below) making two flights each from level ground into a freezing headwind gusting to 27 miles per hour (43 km/h) at Kitty Hawk Heights, North Carolina on December 17, 1903.

Two years later Wilbur Wright piloted Wright Flyer III in a flight of 24 miles in 39 minutes, a world record that stood until 1908.

Romanian inventor Traian Vuia was the first person to fly a heavier-than-air craft with an unassisted takeoff. He demonstrated that a flying apparatus could rise into the air by running upon wheels upon an ordinary road on March 18, 1906. He is credited with a powered hop of 11 metres (36 feet) made on that day in his tractor configuration monoplane and he later claimed a powered hop of 24 metres (79 feet). Though unsuccessful in sustained flight, Vuia's invention influenced Louis Blériot in designing monoplanes.

Traian Vuia in his Vuia I flying machine in 1906

The Silver Dart was flown off the ice of Baddeck Bay, a sub-basin of Bras d'Or Lake on Cape Breton Island in 1909. It was the first controlled powered flight in Canada and the British Empire.

Aviator Eugene Burton Ely performed the first takeoff from a ship on November 14, 1910 (see below), flying from a makeshift deck on the USS Birmingham in Hampton Roads, Virginia, US.

Theodore Roosevelt became the first American president to fly in an airplane on October 11, 1910. He flew for four minutes with Arch Hoxsey in a plane built by the Wright brothers at Kinloch Field (Lambert–St. Louis International Airport), St. Louis, Missouri.

The first air freight shipment was undertaken by the Wright brothers and department store owner Max Moorehouse on November 7, 1910.  Philip Orin Parmelee piloted a Wright Model B airplane 65 miles (105 km) from Dayton, Ohio, to Columbus, Ohio carrying a package of 200 pounds of silk for the opening of a store.

The first official flight with air mail took place on February 18, 1911 in British India (now India). Henri Pequet, a 23-year-old pilot, took off from Allahabad, United Provinces and delivered 6,500 letters to Naini, about 6.2 miles away.

Allahabad cover flown on the world's first aerial post in 1911

American aeronautical engineer and aviator Earle Ovington piloted the first official airmail flight in the United States in a Blériot XI on September 23, 1911. He took off from Nassau Boulevard aerodrome, Garden City, New York with a sack of mail and circled 500 feet above Mineola, New York. Ovington tossed the bag containing 640 letters and 1,280 postcards over the side of the cockpit and the sack burst on impact, scattering the contents.

Edward M. Morgan, Frank Harris Hitchcock, and Earle Lewis Ovington and the Blériot XI

Calbraith Perry Rodgers made the first transcontinental airplane flight across the United States. He began the flight on September 17, 1911, taking off from Sheepshead Bay, New York and completed it on November 5, 1911, when  he landed at Tournament Park in Pasadena, California in front of 20,000 people.


Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant A.W. Brown made the first nonstop transatlantic flight landing on June 14, 1919. They flew a Vickers-Vimy biplane non-stop from St John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, County Galway, Ireland, in a time of 16 hours 27 minutes, a distance of 1,960 miles, upending the plane in a soggy Galway field.

Alcock and Brown landing in Ireland 1919

When Alcock and Brown flew across the Atlantic in 1919, their travelling companions were two stuffed cats.

Captain Lowell Smith and Lieutenant John P. Richter performed the first mid-air refueling on a De Havilland DH-4B in 1923, setting an endurance flight record of 37 hours.

The first cooked meals on a scheduled flight were introduced on May 1, 1927 by Imperial Airways. Their London to Paris 'Silver Wing' service included a steward, a four-course luncheon and drinks from a bar.

Lieutenant James H. Doolittle performed the first blind flight from Mitchel Field on Long Island on September 25, 1929 proving that full instrument flying is possible. Doolittle took off, circled, crossed, re-crossed the field, then landed only a short distance away from his starting point while flying under conditions resembling the densest fog.

Doolittle was the first to recognize the need for pilots to develop the ability to control and navigate aircraft in flight, from takeoff run to landing, regardless of the range of vision from the cockpit. He was the first to envision that a pilot could be trained to use instruments to fly through fog, clouds, heavy rain or snow, darkness, or any other impediment to visibility.

Guy Menzies made the first solo non-stop trans-Tasman flight (from Australia to New Zealand) on January 7, 1931. Poor weather forced Menzies off course, and after 11 hours and 45 minutes he crash-landed upside-down in the La Fontaine Swamp near Hari Hari on New Zealand's west coast.

Lord Clydesdale flew a Westland PV-3 biplane over Mount Everest on April 3, 1933, the first ever flight over the mountain. The extremity endured by the crews of these aeroplanes helped demonstrate the need for pressurised cabins in modern aircraft.

On October 10, 1933, a Boeing 247 aircraft operated by United Air Lines crashed near Chesterton, Indiana. The transcontinental flight, carrying three crew and four passengers, had originated in Newark, New Jersey, with its final destination in Oakland, California. All aboard died in the crash, which was proven to have been deliberately caused by an on-board explosive device, the first such proven case in the history of commercial aviation.

The first trans-Pacific airmail flight began in Alameda, California on November 22, 1935, when the flying boat known as the China Clipper left for Manila. The craft carried over 110,000 pieces of mail.

After Pearl Harbor was attacked a Boeing 314 Clipper, in New Zealand at the time, was told by Pan Am World Airways to return to San Francisco by flying westwards. The total flight time was 209 hours and the plane covered 31,500 miles becoming the first commercial airliner to fly around the world.

The inaugural Atlantic airmail service began on February 5, 1946 between Washington, D.C./New York City and Paris, operated by Trans World Airlines.

Captain Chuck Yeager of the US Air Force became the first pilot to travel faster than sound on October 14, 1947. He flew a Bell X-1 rocket-powered experimental aircraft, the Glamorous Glennis, over the high desert of Southern California.

Yeager reprised the feat in 2012 for the 65th anniversary of the flight. He was 89.

Yeager in front of the Bell X-1, 

Captain James Gallagher landed his B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas on March 2, 1949 after completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight in 94 hours and one minute. En route, the aircraft was refueled four times near Lajes Air Force Base in the Azores, Dhahran Airfield in Saudi Arabia, Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, and Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, using the soon-to-be obsolete grappled-line looped-hose technique.

The first regularly scheduled transatlantic flights begin between Idlewild Airport (now John F Kennedy International Airport) in New York City and Heathrow Airport in London started on May 16, 1951. They were operated by El Al Israel Airlines.

North American test pilot George Smith became the first pilot to eject from a plane at supersonic speed on February 26, 1955. Smith ejected from his F-100A Super Sabre at 777 MPH as the crippled aircraft passed through 6,500 feet in a near-vertical dive. He needed surgery on his intestines after the massive forces put on them and liver damage left him unable to drink alcohol.

A Cessna 172 was used in 1958 to set the world record for flight endurance; the record still stands. On December 4, 1958 Robert Timm and John Cook took off from McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, in a used Cessna 172, registration number N9172B. Sixty-four days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds later on February 7, 1959, they landed at the same airfield.

The first regularly scheduled in-flight movie, By Love Possessed, was shown for the first time on a TWA flight to first class passengers on July 19, 1961.

Piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, the Rutan Voyager became the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, landing at California's Edwards Air Force Base after a nine-day trip on December 23, 1986. They covered 24,986 miles, more than doubling the old distance record set by a Boeing B-52 bomber in 1962.

Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world on April 17, 1964, when she landed in Columbus, Ohio. She flew a single engine Cessna 180 christened the "Spirit of Columbus" and nicknamed "Charlie." The trip had began March 19, 1964, in Columbus, Ohio, and took 29 days, 21 stopovers and almost 22,860 miles (36,790 km).

Jeana Yeager (who is no relation to Captain Chuck Yeager) first conceived of the the Rutan Voyager and sketched it on the back of a napkin in 1981.

The Guinness World record for most passengers ever carried by a commercial airliner is 1,088, by an El Al Boeing 747 during Operation Solomon. The flight involved the evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and started on May 24, 1991. This figure included two babies born during the trip.

Barbara Hewson, a freelance writer from Swansea, was seated next to an obese woman during an 11-hour flight from Britain to Los Angeles. The passenger was so large that she could not fit into her economy-class seat without lifting the armrest. Mrs Hewson was completely squashed and when the plane landed, she had internal bleeding, severe bruising and torn leg muscles. She won £13,000 in compensation from Virgin Atlantic.

In 2005 Steve Fossett became the first person to fly an airplane non-stop around the world solo without refueling.


The expression "push the envelope,"meaning to extend the limits of the possible is originally derived from aviation slang, where an envelope describes the limits of the various factors of flight safety such as speed, engine power, manoeuvrability, wind and altitude.

On average you could fly every day for 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash.

Travelling by air can shed up to 1.5 liters of water from the body during an average 3 hour flight.

On an average day there are 1.8 million passengers in the sky over the United States.

Compared to the 1960s, airplane flights actually take longer today, due to the congestion of planes getting in and out of airports.

International flights carrying the Pope use the callsign "Shepherd One."

The world’s shortest scheduled airline flight is a 1.7 mile hop between two Orkney Islands just north of Scotland: Westray and Papa Westray. Operated by Loganair, the flight duration is officially two minutes.

If you leave Tokyo by plane at 7 am, you will arrive in Honolulu, Hawaii at approximately 7.45 pm the previous day.

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