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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    The History of Flight from Around the World


    • July 2, 1900 - The first flight of the Zeppelin, a "rigid" airship that was the first aircraft to use large metal structures.

    • October 22, 1900 - The Wright Brothers make their first glider flight.


    • October 4, 1902 - The Wrights modify their 1902 glider by replacing the fixed double rear fin with a rear rudder linked with the wing-warping control to counteract wrap-drag.

    • October 5, 1902 - Octave Chanute and his assistant, Augustus M. Herring, arrive at Kitty Hawk to join the Wrights in their gliding experiments.

    • October 18, 1902 - In his first letter to the Wrights, Samuel Pierpont Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, inquires about experiments at Kitty Hawk and particularly about their use of “special curved surfaces and the like.”


    • March 23, 1903 - The Wright Brothers apply for patents on their improved glider and flying machine.

    • September 25, 1903 - The Wright Brothers arrive in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to prepare for their historical flights.

    • December 8, 1903 - Samuel P. Langley s "Aerodrome," piloted by Charles Manley, plunges into the Potomac River on the second launching attempt and is completely wrecked.

    • December 14, 1903 - Wilbur and Orville Wright flip a coin to see who will be the first to fly. Wilbur wins the toss however, the flight is unsuccessful.

    • December 17, 1903 - The Wright Flyer lifts into the air at 10:35 am. The flight lasted only 12 seconds and covered a distance of just 121 feet (37 m). It is the first powered, manned, heavier-than-air, controlled flight.

    • December 18, 1903 - Only three newspapers in the United States mention the Wright Brothers' flight and their accounts are largely imaginative.


    • 1904 - The Wright Brothers build their second machine, but their total flying time during 1904 is only 45 minutes.

    • March 1, 1904 - The first scientific accounts of the Wright Brothers' machine and successful flight appear in A.I. Root's magazine, Gleanings in Bee Culture, and in another article by Octave Chanute in Popular Science Monthly.

    • August 3, 1904 - Capt. Thomas S. Baldwin accomplishes the first circuit flight in a navigable balloon in Oakland, California .

    • September 20, 1904 - The Wright Brothers accomplish the first successful "bank" and complete circular flight in Dayton.

    • November - The British Government, through Colonel Capper, visits the Wright Brothers in Dayton and indicates interest in their machine .


    • January 18, 1905 - The Wright Brothers contact their congressman to inquire if the U.S. Government is interested in their experiments and machine. The reply is a form letter from the President of the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications indicating that the Board is not interested in "financing experiments."

    • February 11, 1905 - The British War Office sends a letter to the Wright Brothers asking them to submit terms for purchase of their aeroplane.

    • March 18, 1905 - Prof. J. J. Montgomery glides down 2,500 ft. in his glider from a balloon in Leonards, California.

    • October 04, 1905 - Flyer III: the Wright Brothers' plane covers 24.2 miles in 38 minutes and 3 seconds.

    • October 9, 1905 - At the urging of Octave Chanute, the Wright Brothers again write to the U.S. Government offering their services to the Secretary of War. The reply is another rebuff.


    • February 27, 1906 - Prof. Samuel Pierpont Langley, age 72, dies in Aiken, South Carolina.

    • May 16, 1907 - Wilbur Wright sails for Europe to complete negotiations for purchases of flying machines by Great Britain, France, Italy, and Germany .

    • May 22, 1906 - Patent No. 821,393 issued to the Wright Brothers on a Flying Machine.

    • September 12, 1906 - Dane J.C.H. Ellehammer makes a circular, tethered hop of some 140 feet (42 meters) on the island of Lindholm in Denmark.

    • September 13, 1906 - Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont makes the first officially recorded aeroplane flight in Europe for 8 seconds.

    • December 27, 1906 - Arnold Fordyce, a French emissary, visits the Wright Brothers in Dayton and secures an option to purchase one flying machine for $200,000.

    • December 31, 1906 - The Wright Brothers do no flying during this year, but work on developing a new engine having vertical instead of horizontal cylinders.


    • June 9, 1907 - The first building at any exposition devoted exclusively to aeronautics in the history of the world is dedicated at the Jamestown Exposition (U.S.A.).

    • November 13, 1907 - First helicopter flown by Paul Cornu, a French inventor. The flight lasted only 20 seconds and hovered just 1 foot (30 cm) above the ground.


    • 1908 - Madame Therese Peltier was the first woman to fly solo in an airplane.

    • February 8, 1908 - The U.S. War Department concludes a contract with the Wright Brothers for $25,000 to become the owner of one flying machine.

    • March 12, 1908 - Canadian Casey Baldwin makes the first public flight in the United States in Hammondsport, New York. Baldwin's airplane, the "Red Wing", took off from the lake, flew 318 feet on its first flight and was slightly damaged in landing.

    • July 4, 1908 - Glenn Curtiss generates news headlines by making the first official public flight of more than one mile at Stony Brook Farm race-track in the "June Bug".

    • August 8, 1908 - Wilbur Wright makes his first flight in Europe at Champs d'Auvours, France.

    • September 3, 1908 - Orville Wright makes the first demonstration flight for the Army at Fort Myer, Virginia.

    • September 9, 1908 - Lt. F. P. Lahm is first Army passenger carried in the "Wright Flyer" during trials at Fort Myer.

    • September 17, 1908 - In the final flight at Fort Myer, the "Wright Flyer" crashes, killing Lt. Thomas Selfridge and injuring Orville Wright.


    • 1909 - Prior to this year, no two aeroplanes of identical design existed in America.

    • February 23, 1909 - Canadian John McCurdy makes the first powered flight in the British Empire in the"Silver Dart", at Baddeck, Nova Scotia. The flight lasts for 800 meters and lands safely on the ice.

    • July 25, 1909 - Blériot XI: First cross Channel flight by Louis Blériot.

    • August 22-28, 1909 - First International Aviation Competition in Rheims, France.

    • August 29, 1909 - Glenn H. Curtiss wins speed tests in Rheims, France, at an average speed of 46.5.

    • September 7, 1909 - The U.S. Army's first aerodrome established in College Park, Maryland.

    • November 3, 1909 - Dr. William H. Greene in Greene biplane makes a passenger-carrying record at Morris Park, New York, carrying A. Leo Stevens and two others as passengers for short flights.

    • November 22, 1909 - The Wright Company becomes incorporated with a capitalization of $1,000,000.

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