The World's Forum for Aerospace Leadership

  • Donate
  • Press Room
  • Renew
  • View Cart
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    The History of Flight from Around the World


    • October 1999 - The Boeing 717 enters service with AirTran Airways on the Atlanta-Washington, DC route. Developed as the McDonnell Douglas MD-95, this twin-engined, single-aisle airliner became the 717 with the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing in 1997, and had first flown in September 1998.

    • July 22-27, 1999 - STS-93 launched and Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to command an American space mission.

    • March 20, 1999 - After a 46,759-mile balloon flight which lasted 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes, the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon, flown by Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard, achieves a non-stop round-the-world balloon flight.

    • January 3, 1999 - The Mars Polar Lander is launched.


    • December 6, 1998 - Unity, a six-sided connector for future station components, is connected to Zarya by Shuttle Mission STS-88. Together, the two modules form the new, 70,000-pound, 76-foot long International Space Station.

    • November 20, 1998 - Zarya, an unpiloted space "tugboat" that provides early propulsion, steering and communications for the International Space Station, is the first element launched.

    • October 29-November 7, 1998 - STS-95: At age 77, John Glenn becomes the oldest astronaut in space.

    • October 24, 1998 - Deep Space 1, the first ion propulsion spacecraft, was launched to fly in space.

    • March 27, 1998 - NASA announces that the Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first actual image of a planet outside our own solar system.

    • March 12, 1998 - First test flight of the X-38, a spacecraft design planned for use as a future International Space Station emergency crew return "lifeboat."


    • August 1997 - The Airbus A330-200 makes its first flight. The first customer is the International Lease Finanace Corporation, which leases the aircraft to discount charter airline Canada 3000.

    • July 4, 1997 - NASA's Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner Rover land on Mars. The lander performed meteorology, atmospheric analysis, and photography, while its rover collected and analyzed rocks and soil.

    • February 1997 - First flight of the Boeing 737 Next Generation (NG) is conducted with the 2,843rd 737 built, a -700. This model's launch customer Southwest Airlines still operates to date.


    • September 26, 1996 - STS-79: Shannon Lucid returns from Mir after setting U.S. record for continuous stay in space and beginning a more than two-year continuing U.S. presence in space.


    • December 7, 1995 - Galileo released probe into Jupiter's atmosphere.

    • November 28, 1995 - The McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 made the first safe, automated landing of a transport aircraft using engine thrust.

    • June 27-July 7, 1995 - STS-71: Space Shuttle Atlantis and Mir linked and American astronaut Norm Thagard and a Russian crewmate were returned to earth.

    • May 1995 - The first Boeing 777, the world's largest long-range widebody twinjet, is delivered to United Airlines and, later the same month, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awards 180-minute ETOPS clearance, making the 777 the first airliner to carry this rating at its entry into service. The 777 had made its maiden flight in June 1994.

    • April 27, 1995 - The Global Positioning System, becomes fully operational.

    • March, 1995 - Norman Thagard becomes the first American astronaut to visit Mir.

    • February 3-11, 1995 - STS-63: Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to pilot a space and Vladimir Titov is the first Russian to be launched aboard an U.S. spacecraft.


    • January 25-May 3, 1994 - Clementine: NASA/DOD mission to map the lunar surface.

    • April 21, 1994 - Maj. Jackie Parker becomes the first U.S. woman to be qualified in a F-16 combat fighter.

    • June 1994 - The Boeing 777, the world's largest long-range widebody twinjet, makes its maiden flight.

    • 1994 - Vicki Van Meter, age 12, becomes the youngest pilot to make a transatlantic flight in a Cessna 210.

    • 1994 - Test flight of Boeing 777; the first aircraft to be designed entirely on a computer.

    • 1994 - The K-Max "aerial truck" designed and built by Kaman becomes the first helicopter designed for repetitive lift operations.


    • December 2-13, 1993 - STS-61: First servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

    • April 28, 1993 - Secretary of Defense announces that women are permitted to enter combat.


    • May 2-16, 1992 - STS-49: First flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour and the first three-person spacewalk. Astronauts captured a private satellite for repair and reboost.

    • January 25, 1992 - Lee Hixon becomes the first woman to fly the Gemini twin-engine helicopter.

    • January 22, 1992 - Roberta Bondar becomes the first Canadian woman astronaut on Discovery, STS-42.


    • October 3, 1991 - Marta Bohn-Meyer becomes the first woman crew member of the SR-71 Blackbird.

    • July 15, 1991 - NASA research pilot Edward Schneider flew the F/A-18 High Angle-of-Attack Research Vehicle (HARV), with thrust-vectoring paddles, for repair and reboost.

    • May 1991 - Canadair launches regional jet era with first flight of CRJ, a stretch of its Challenger executive jet. Bombardier's CRJ family becomes biggest-selling regional jet brand.


    • April 24-29, 1990 - STS-31: Deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.

    • 1990 - Patty Wagstaff wins her first of three U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Titles (she also wins in 1992 and 1994).

    Back to Timeline >