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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    The History of Flight from Around the World


    • February 22, 1920 - First transcontinental mail service arrives in New York from San Francisco. The trip takes 33 hours and 20 minutes - nearly three days faster than rail service.


    • June 15, 1921 - Bessie Coleman becomes the first African-American woman to receive Fédération Aéronautic Internationale (FAI) pilot's license.

    • November 21, 1921 - Wesley May steps from the wing of his Lincoln Standard biplane to the wing of a Curtiss JN-4, with a 5-gallon can of gasoline strapped to his back, and completes the first, technical "mid-air refuelling" flying over Long Beach, CA.



    • January 1, 1922 - Underwriter's Laboratories, in Chicago, began registration of American aircraft as a private enterprise for benefit of insurance companies.

    • March 20, 1922 - U.S.S. Langley commissioned as an airplane carrier in Norfolk, Virginia.

    • June 12, 1922 - Capt. A. W. Stevens, U.S. Air Service, makes record parachute jump from 24,206 ft. from a supercharged Martin bomber over McCook Field, USA.

    • August 21, 1922 - Lawrence Sperry drops landing wheels from his plane in flight and successfully lands with a skid device in experiments carried out in Farmingdale, New York.



    • 1923 - A radio-controlled airplane flew without a pilot at the E'tampes Aerodrome in France.

    • March 1, 1923 - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company delivers the TC-1, the largest American nonrigid dirigible, to the Army Air Service.

    • May 2-3, 1923 - Lieutenants Oakley Kelly and John Macready complete the first nonstop coast to coast airplane flight. New York to San Diego - 26 hours, 50 minutes.

    • May 18, 1923 - WWI ace Frank Ford pays $5 and becomes Charles Lindbergh's first paying passenger.

    • June 27, 1923 - Lieutenants Lowell Smith and John Richter completed the first in-flight refueling over Rockwell Field, USA.

    • August 23, 1923 - U.S. Army Corps Lieutenants Lowell Smith and John Richter set an endurance record of 37 hours with the help of in-flight refueling.

    • September 5, 1923 - Planes of the U.S. Army Air Service bomb the battleships Virginia and New Jersey off Cape Hatteras in a series of tests. Bombs dropped from 6,000 ft. sink the New Jersey in 7.5 minutes. The Virginia sinks in 4 minutes.

    • December 13, 1923 - Lawrence B. Sperry, one of American aviation's foremost figures, is drowned while attempting a flight over the English Channel.



    • March 4, 1924 - U.S. Army Air Service planes avert a flood in Platte River Valley, Nebraska, by dropping bombs to clear an ice jam.

    • July 1, 1924 - The U.S. Post Office Department opens regular day-and-night air-mail service between New York and San Francisco.

    • September 28, 1924 - The first round-the-world flight is completed in Seattle, Washington by three, two-seat Douglas World Cruisers of the US Army Air Service.



    • January 24, 1925 - 25 airplanes take scientists and other observers above the clouds in Connecticut to view a total eclipse of the sun.

    • April 17, 1925 - Sgt. Randall L. Bose and Pvt. Arthur Bergo make a delayed parachute jump of 1,500 ft. to demonstrate that falling persons remain conscious.

    • April 27, 1925 - Lt. Webb, U.S. Navy, makes trial flight of new Wright "Cyclone" 450-hp. air-cooled engine in DT-6 torpedo plane at Muchio's Field, New Jersey.

    • June 12, 1925 - Daniel Guggenheim donates $500,000 toward the establishment of a School of Aeronautics at New York University.

    • August 22, 1925 - The Army Air Service announces a "recording compass" which registers on a paper chart all of the various headings that an airplane flies.

    • November 30, 1925 - Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., is organized

    • December 24, 1925 - The Wasp, Pratt & Whitney's first engine is completed.



    • February 6, 1926 - Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company produces its first engine, a nine-cylinder radical air-cooled engine, which develops about 400 hp. at 1,800 r.p.m.

    • February 13, 1926 - The U.S. Post Office Department puts new 10-cent airmail stamp on sale.

    • March 16, 1926 - Robert Goddard launches the World's first liquid propellant rocket in an orchard. The rocket climbed 41 feet in two-and-a-half-seconds and landed 184 feet away.

    • March 20, 1926 - The USS Langley is commissioned and becomes the first American aircraft carrier.

    • May 9, 1926 - Comdr. Richard E. Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett complete the first flight over the North Pole.

    • August 18, 1926 - A training plane is dropped at San Diego Naval Air Station, California, by means of a parachute, the first time this feat is accomplished.

    • September 3, 1926 - Lt. James H. Doolittle, demonstrating Curtiss airplanes in South America, flies over the Andes Mountains.



    • 1927 - Lockheed debuts the Vega (designed by John K. Northrop).

    • 1927 - Air-cooled engines replaced water-cooled engines, which reduced weight and made bigger and faster planes possible.

    • 1927 - The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, at its Langley Field, Virginia, Laboratories, builds the first wind tunnel large enough to test a full-size airplane.

    • May 20-21, 1927 - Spirit of St. Louis: First nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic by Charles A. Lindbergh.

    • May 25, 1927 - Lt. James H. Doolittle does an "outside loop" in an airplane, the first time this feat has ever been accomplished.

    • June 28-29, 1927 - Bird of Paradise: The first transoceanic flight -- from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii -- by Albert Hegenberger and Lester Maitland. It was the longest open-sea flight to that date.

    • October 1927 - The new Wright Field is dedicated in Dayton, Ohio.

    • October 14-15, 1927 - France's Dieudonné Costes and his navigator, Joseph Le Brix, make the first nonstop crossing of the south Atlantic.



    • February 1928 - Avro Avian: First solo England to Australia flight by Bert Hinkler.

    • March 1928 - Ten men of the U.S. Army Air Corps jump from a Ford airplane at Chanute Field in the space of 8.2 seconds, thus establishing a world record.

    • April 1928 - Hubert Wilkins and his pilot, Carl Ben Eiselson, fly a Lockheed Vega on the first trans-Arctic flight from Point Barrow, Alaska to Spitsbergen.

    • June 1928 - Friedrich Stamer, as pilot, achieved the first manned flight in a rocket-powered glider. Stamer flew about one mile. Launch was achieved by an elastic launch rope and a 44-pound thrust rocket, then a second rocket fired while airborne.

    • May 31-June 9, 1928 - Southern Cross: First trans-Pacific flight, from Oakland, California to Brisbane, Australia, by Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm. Included in the crew were James Warner (Radioman) and Harry Lyons (Navigator).

    • June 17, 1928 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to cross the Atlantic.

    • October 1928 - The U.S. Army Air Corps develops a parachute 84 ft. in diameter, of sufficient strength to support the weight of an airplane and its passengers.

    • November 28-29, 1928 - First flight over the South Pole is made by Comdr. Richard E. Byrd, Bert Balchen, Capt. Ashley C. McKinley, and Harold I. June, flying from camp in "Little America."



    • 1929 - The Link Trainer, the first electro-mechanical flight simulator, was invented.

    • 1929 - A survey by an aviation magazine reports that 1,400 aeroengineering students were enrolled in more than a dozen schools across the United States.

    • 1929 - Fritz Opel of Germany flew the first rocket-powered plane for 1 minute 15 seconds.

    • 1929 - William Green developed the first automatic pilot used on an airliner

    • February 27, 1929 - Former Secretary of War Dwight Davis presents the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded by the U.S. Congress, to Orville Wright and, posthumously, to his brother Wilbur.

    • March 9, 1929 - Col. Charles A. Lindbergh inaugurates the first direct mail route to Mexico City, carrying 13 passengers on a trip from Brownsville, Texas.

    • August 1929 - Several small solid-propellant rockets were attached to a Junkers-33 seaplane and the first jet-assisted airplane takeoff was recorded.

    • August 8-29, 1929 - Commanded by Captain Hugo Eckener, the Graf Zeppelin accomplishes the first around-the-world flight by a dirigible.

    • September 24, 1929 - James H. Doolittle becomes the first to fly entirely by use of instruments and radio aids from takeoff to landing without reference to the ground.

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