November is Aviation History Month. We thought it was the perfect time to look back at some very important dates and events throughout the history of aviation, beginning with the creation and launch of the first hot air balloon. Take a look back in time with us.
First Flights Begin in France
North Carolina proclaims to be the first in flight thanks to the famous Wright Brothers (we’ll get to them a bit later) but aviation origins actually began in France in the late 1700’s when two brothers created the first hot air balloon after being inspired by a paper bag rising from the flow of heated air. Brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier launched the first hot air balloon in 1783. The balloon carried a sheep, a duck, and a rooster.
Nearly 70 years later, Jules Henri Giffard, a French engineer and inventor, built the first full size steam-powered airship and launched it 51 years before the Wright brothers launched their first flight. In 1884, French Army Corps of Engineers Charles Renard and Arthur C. Krebs, military officers and inventors, are credited with building an elongated balloon that successfully took and flew five miles back to the same location, making the men the first to launch a roundtrip flight.
The Wright Brothers and Beyond
So the Wright brothers weren’t actually the first in-flight...but they were the first to fly a powered airplane on a 12-second test flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. Eight years later in 1911, Harriet Quimby became the first woman to be awarded a pilot’s certificate and was also the first to fly solo across the English Channel. She is credited with sparking women’s interest in aviation.
Three short years later in 1914, the worlds’ first commercial flight took off in St. Petersburg, Florida. Passengers aboard the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat made history when they flew between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida in just 20 minutes.
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh, pilot, activist, author, and inventor, piloted the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight when he flew from New York to Paris in 34 hours. Thirty-one years later, the first domestic jet passenger service flew between New York and Miami.
In 1993, British Airways pilot Barbara Harmer became the first female co-pilot on a supersonic plane when she flew a Concorde from London to New York. The first nonstop solo flight around the world without refueling occurred in 2005 when Steven Fossett traveled 23,000 miles around the world and back to Kansas in 67 hours. Finally, in 2017, Southwest Airlines celebrated its first all-female flight crew.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this little “flight” through history! We can’t wait to see the next big achievement to make aviation history.