Milestones in the aviation industry, from hot air balloons to Concorde
See also Science and innovation
World War One air raids
Aeroplane speed distance/height records
National airlines start date
Balloons (inc. airships, Zeppelins)
Appendix 1 - Air accidents and disasters
Appendix 2 - Airports
25/3/2018, The first non-stop commercial flight from Australia to London took place, taking 17 hours (see 1935, 1938, 1947).
24/10/2003. Concorde made its last commercial flight, from New York to London. Commercial flights had begun on 21/1/1976. Economic conditions meant that many of the plane’s regular flyers had not been booking over the past two years.
2/7/2002. Steve Fossett became the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon on his own without stopping.
7/11/2001, After a 15-month break, supersonic flights by Concorde resumed.
15/3/1995, Jet plane manufacturers Lockheed and Martin merged to become the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
2/4/1993, 1st test flight of Fokker 70.
11/1/1993. Richard Branson won a legal victory after British Airways apologised for a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against Virgin Atlantic Airways.
27/1/1989, Sir Thomas Octave Sopwith, designer of the World War One biplane called the Sopwith Camel, died.
9/11/1988, The Pentagon unveiled its new ‘Stealth’ fighter plane, supposedly invisible to enemy radar. It used radar-absorbent materials and a ‘faceted’ surface that reflected radar signals at odd angles.
11/2/1987, British Airways was privatised and floated on the London Stock Exchange.
23/12/1986, The aircraft Voyager landed in California, to become the first aircraft to fly round the world without refuelling.
30/6/1985, The US hostages from a TWA jet hijacked by two Shi’ite gunmen on 24/6/1985 and diverted to Beirut, were released, following Syrian intervention.
22/6/1984. The first Virgin Atlantic flight left Gatwick for New York. The single fare was £99.
5/2/1982. Freddie Laker’s Laker Airlines collapsed owing £270 million; 6,000 passengers were stranded.
7/7/1981, The first crossing of the English Channel by a solar-powered aircraft, Solar Challenger.
15/8/1980, Gerry Breen arrived at Land’s End, four days after having set off from John O Groats by hang glider.
31/12/1979, In 1979 British airlines flew 47 billion passenger kilometres; this compares with 6 million passenger kilometres flown in 1936.
12/6/1979, The American Bryan Allen made the first man-powered flight across the English Channel. He pedalled his Gossamer Albatross from Folkestone to Cap Gris Nez in 2 hours 50 minutes.
20/4/1979, The last Concorde to be built made its maiden flight. Only 16 of the aircraft were ever built; they were too noisy. Even the lawyer hired to secure landing rights publically admitted “Concorde is noisy as hell”.
13/1/1979, Concorde began a regular service between Washington DC and Dallas airports.
15/9/1978, Wilhelm Messerschmitt, German aviation engineer and designer, died aged 80.
17/8/1978. The first crossing of the Atlantic by balloon. The huge black and silver balloon, Double Eagle II, landed in a wheat field at Miserey, near Paris, 137 hours after leaving Maine. It was flown by three Americans, Ben Abruzzo, Max Anderson and Larry Newman.
9/12/1977, Concorde began a short-lived thrice weekly service between London Heathrow and Singapore via Bahrain. The service was initially suspended on 13/12/1977, after just three flights, because of complaints from Malaysia about sonic booms over the Strait of Malacca. On 24/1/1979 the route resumed, with take-offs out to sea from Singapore avoiding Malaysia. However the route was losing £2 million a year due to inadequate demand as was permanently withdrawn on 1/11/1980.
22/11/1977, British Airways began regular commercial services by Concorde between London and New York
17/10/1977, The US Supreme Court ruled that Concorde could use New York’s Kennedy Airport.
25/9/1977. Freddie Lakers’ Skytrain service began between Gatwick and New York. One way fares London to New York cost £59, against the normal price of £190; no frills, with food extra.
24/5/1976. Concorde made its first commercial transatlantic flight from London to Washington DC.
21/1/1976. The British Airways and French Concorde aircraft made their first commercial flights, from London to Bahrain and from Paris to Rio de Janeiro. See 9/1/1969 and 24/10/2003.
26/8/1974, Charles Lindbergh, US aviator, the first to fly across the Atlantic solo non-stop in 1927, died.
26/9/1973,A French Concorde flew non-stop from Washington to Paris in 3 hours 32 minutes. Now Concorde is out of service the same flight takes over eight hours.
1972, British Airways was formed by a merger of BEA and BOAC.
15/11/1972. The RAF museum at Hendon opened.
26/10/1972, Igor Sikorsky, Russian-born US aeronautical engineer who developed the first successful helicopter in 1939, died in Easton, Connecticut.
13/9/1970. Concorde landed at Heathrow for the first time, to complaints about the noise.
21/1/1970, The Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet entered commercial service, see 9/2/1969. It could carry up to 490 passengers.
10/10/1969, Concorde 001 broke the sound barrier for the first time during a test flight over Paris.
9/4/1969, Concord’s first trial flight from Bristol to Fairford. See 21/1/1976. The French Concorde made its first flight on 2/3/1969. The Concorde project had begun in 1962 between the British and French governments to develop a supersonic aircraft. Sceptics doubted that it was possible to build a passenger aircraft with over 100 seats that travelled as fast as a military fighter. However Concorde halved flight times across the Atlantic.
31/3/1969, An airline pilots strike grounded all BOAC flights.
2/3/1969. The French built Concorde made its maiden flight from Toulouse Airport. See 9/1/1969. It was piloted by Andre Turcat, chief test pilot of Sud Aviation; he got the plane to 300 mph.
9/2/1969, The Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet made its maiden flight. See 21/1/1970.
9/1/1969, Concorde made its first trial flight from Bristol.
31/12/1968, Russia’s TU144 flew, becoming the world’s first supersonic aircraft.
11/12/1967. The prototype of the world’s first supersonic
airliner, Concorde, was revealed in
8/2/1966. Freddie Laker formed a cut-price transatlantic airline.
10/6/1965, A British European Airways De Havilland jet airliner flying from Paris to London made the first landing by automatic control.
21/5/1965. Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, British aircraft designer who was knighted in 1944, died in Stanmore, Middlesex.
9/12/1963, Royal Jordanian Airlines was established, on decree by King Hussein.
29/11/1962, France and Britain agreed to develop the ‘Concorde’ airliner.
20/5/1961, The Orient Express left Paris on its final journey to Istanbul. The service started in 1883, and was suspended for World War Two. It used to be the peak of luxury travel but air travel had now superseded it.
19/11/1960. The first VTOL (vertical take off, landing) aircraft made by British Hawker Siddeley, flew for the first time.
4/8/1960, NASA test pilot Joseph A. Walker became the fastest man in history as he flew an X-15 at a speed of 2,196 miles per hour, breaking a record set in 1956 by Milburn Apt, who had been killed while flying an X-2.
22/2/1960, Britain and France announced plans to build a supersonic airliner.
17/11/1959. Two Scottish airports, Prestwick
and Renfrew, became the first to offer duty-free
1/11/1959, Jet air services began between London, UK, and Sydney, Australia, run by BOAC.
10/12/1958, The first domestic jet airliner service within the US began, operated by National Airlines between New York and Miami.
26/10/1958, Two new air services began this day. The New York to London route was operated by BOAC, and the New York to Paris route was operated by Pan Am.
4/10/1958. BOAC, now British Airways, began the first transatlantic jet air service, with two de Havilland Comet IV jets. Flight time was a record 6 hours 11 minutes.
19/12/1957. Regular air services between London and Moscow began.
11/3/1957, Richard Byrd, American aviator and polar explorer, died.
1/2/1957, The first turbo-prop airliner, the Bristol Britannia, entered scheduled service in Britain.
28/9/1956. Death of US air pioneer William Boeing.
13/10/1955, Pan American Airlines ordered 20 Boeing 707s and 25 Douglas DC-8 jet airliners. This was the start of a major shift by world airlines into large jet aircraft for long-haul passenger flights.
26/2/1955, US pilot George Smith made the first ejection from a plane at supersonic speed. He required surgery for damage to his liver and intestines, leaving him unable to drink alcohol.
20/11/1954, Clyde Cessna,
6/9/1954, Rolls Royce announced that it had developed a new vertical take off plane; nicknamed the flying bedstead because of its shape.
15/7/1954. The Boeing 707 (or 367-80) made its maiden flight from Seattle. It could seat 219.
1/4/1954, The US Air Force Academy was created.
27/8/1953, The De Havilland Comet II made its first test flight. Later on several crashed, leading to the discovery of the new problem of metal fatigue.
16/7/1953, A new world air speed record, of 716 mph or 1,152 kph was set by an F16 Sabre fighter plane.
3/4/1953, Easter air travel from Britain was up 20% on last Easter.
26/8/1952, A Canberra bomber returned to Aldergrove Airport, Northern Ireland, having completed the first transatlantic return trip in a single day, taking 7 hours 59 minutes.
2/5/1952. The first scheduled jet flight , a Comet airliner, took off from London for Johannesburg. The 18 ½ hour BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) flight stopped at Rome, Beirut, Khartoum, Entebbe and Livingstone. The flight by propeller aircraft had previously taken 28 hours.
2/2/1952, The De Havilland Comet went into service as the world’s first passenger jet.
22/1/1952, The De Havilland Comet became the first jet aircraft to receive a Certificate of Airworthiness.
21/2/1951. A British bomber aircraft crossed the Atlantic in a record 4 hours 40 minutes.
8/11/1950. The first ever combat between jet fighters took place when, in the Korean War, a US F86 shot down a Soviet MIG 15.
7/7/1950, The first Farnborough Air Show took place.
31/3/1950, Garuda Indonesia was established as a joint venture with KLM, the Netherlands national airline, and began with a fleet of 27 airplanes. In 1954, Garuda would become a fully Indonesian business.
8/3/1950. The last Lancaster bomber left RAF service.
4/9/1949, Britain’s largest ever aircraft, the 130-ton 8-engined, made its first flight.
27/7/1949, The world’s first jet-propelled airliner built in the UK, the Bristol Brabazon De Havilland DH 106 Comet, flew at Hatfield.
13/5/1949, Britain flew its first jet bomber, the
2/3/1949. A crew of US Air Force personnel completed the first non-stop round the world flight, refuelling four times mid-air, taking 94 hours. See 21/5/1927, first transatlantic flight. The flight captain was James Gallagher, flying the US Air Force B50 ‘Lucky Lady’.
6/9/1948, John Derry, piloting a De Havilland DH 108, in a dive, became the first pilot to fly at supersonic speed in Britain.
16/6/1948, The first airline hijack took place. A gang of Chinese bandits took over a Cathay
Pacific flying boat, Miss Macao, on a scheduled flight to
1947, The air journey from London to Australia took 4 days, down from ten in 1938. Overnight stops were at Cairo, Karachi, Kolkata and Singapore, with two day stops at Tripoli and Darwin.
14/10/1947. The first supersonic flight was made, by Charles Yeager of California. Major Charles Yeager was taken to 30,000 feet from Edwards Air Base, Muroc, California, in a Bell X-1, underneath a B-29 Superfortress plane, and released. He flew at 670mph, (Mach 1.05), held for several seconds, then landed at Edwards Air Base again.
24/6/1947, US pilot Kenneth Arnold, flying over Mount Ranier, Washington State, filed the first report of flying saucers; he reported seeing nine flying disc-shaped objects.
1946, SAS, Scandinavian Airways Systems, was formed by the amalgamation of AB Aerotransport (Sweden), DDL (Denmark) and DNL (Norway). Cathay Pacific Airways was founded in Hong Kong. IATA (international Air Transport Association) was set up.
15/9/1946, Alitalia (Aerolinee Italiane Internaziolali) was formed.
9/9/1946, Trans Australia Airlines made its first flight, from Melbourne to Sydney. The government-owned carrier changed its name to Australian Airlines in 1986, and then was merged with Qantas in 1993.
1/9/1946. The jet aircraft Meteor EE549 reached the record speed of 616 mph.
1/8/1946, British European Airways, BEA, was formed.
29/7/1946, Air India was formed by a reorganisation of Tata Air Lines.
24/7/1946, Aircraft fitter Benny Lynch tested the first British ejector seat. Bailing out 8,000 feet above Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, he landed safely in the back yard of pub, and was recovered later from the bar.
1/7/1946. British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) began transatlantic flights between London and New York, in 19 ¾ hours
1/1/1946, Test flights began at an airfield west of London, called Heathrow, to be developed as a major civilian airport.
7/11/1945, The jet aircraft Meteor EE454 reached the record speed of 606 mph.
12/7/1944, The RAF became the first air force to use jet aircraft in operational service.
30/7/1943, In Sweden, the Saab 21 became the first aircraft to fly with the modern explosives-powered ejector seat.
18/7/1942, Germany tested its first military jet aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me262A.
13/1/1942, The first escape by emergency ejection seat from an aircraft. The German pilot ejected at 7,875 feet due to heavy icing, over Rechlin, Germany, and landed safely.
15/5/1941. In the UK, the first aircraft with a jet engine, invented by Frank Whittle, flew from Cranwell.
2/4/1941, Germany tested the world’s first aircraft ejector seat, powered by compressed air.
15/9/1940, The Battle of Britain ended with victory to the Allies. 1,733 German planes were destroyed as against 915 lost by the RAF. It began on 8/8/1940. Both sides were short, not of planes but of trained pilots. With bailed-out British pilots returning to the airfields and bailed-out German pilots going into POW camps, the RAF slowly gained the upper hand. The Nazis had given up hope of achieving air superiority and invading Britain. The RAF had also destroyed much of the shipping that was to carry German troops to England. The Luftwaffe, under Goering, also erred in switching their attacks from RAF airfields and radar stations to British cities on 7/9/1940 in revenge for an RAF raid on Berlin (25/8/1940). Had the attacks on RAF airfields continued, the Luftwaffe might just have defeated the RAF.
25/8/1940. First British air raid on Berlin.
23/8/1940. The Blitz on London began.
8/8/1940. Battle of Britain began.
31/7/1940. Hitler gave orders for a massive air offence against Britain
2/7/1940. The first daylight bombing raid on
1/4/1940, Imperial Airways merged with British Airways to become British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).
13/11/1939. The first German bombs fell on
19/9/1939. Britain's RAF began leaflet raids on
27/8/1939, The world’s first jet-propelled aeroplane, the Heinkel 178, engines designed by Dr Von Ohain, made its first flight at Marienehe, northern Germany.
24/8/1939, Germany tested the first turbojet aircraft, at Rostock. A longer flight took place on 27/8/1939.
4/8/1939, A British transatlantic air mail service was
inaugurated by BOAC between Southampton and
27/6/1939, The first transatlantic air service began. Pan American Airways flying boat Yankee Clipper flew between Botwood, Newfoundland, and Southampton, UK, seating 19 passengers on the 18 ¾ hour flight. The fare was £140 return, for luxurious accommodation including separate passenger cabins, ladies dressing rooms, a recreation lounge, sleeping berths and a bridal suite.
1938, The air journey from London to Australia now took ten days (12 in 1935).
31/12/1938, The first pressurised airlined to enter commercial service, the Boeing 307 Stratoliner, made its maiden flight (see 7/5/1937). Pressurisation meant the aircraft could avoid bad weather by flying above it.
14/9/1938, The largest rigid airship ever built, the 803 foot German Graf Zeppelin II, made her maiden flight. She was dismantled in April 1940.
24/10/1937, New Zealand aviator Jean Batten broke the record for flying from Australia to Britain, taking 5 days 18 hours and 18 minutes.
2/7/1937, The aviatrix Amelia Earhart disappeared on a flight from New Guinea to Howland Island.
7/5/1937, The first practical pressurised aircraft cabin was used, by Lockheed. See 31/12/1938.
12/4/1937, A test-bed run of the world’s first aircraft jet engine took place, at Cranwell, UK.
13/6/1936, Shoreham Airport opened.
6/6/1936. The German airship Hindenburg crossed the Atlantic in 46 hours.
27/5/1936. Aer Lingus made its first commercial flight, from Dublin to Bristol.
15/5/1936. Amy Johnson arrived in England after a record-breaking 12 day, 15 hour flight from London to Cape Town and back.
14/3/1936, An air service from London to Hong Kong was inaugurated.
5/3/1936. The Spitfire
fighter plane made its first flight from Eastleigh Aerodrome, near
4/3/1936, The airship LZ 129 Hindenburg had its first flight.
1935, The Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Company was formed in 1935, when Hawker Aircraft took over JD Siddely and other companies..
11/11/1935, US balloonists Anderson and Stevens reached 74,000 feet.
6/11/1935. The RAF’s first monoplane fighter, the Hawker Hurricane, made its maiden flight. It was the fastest fighter aircraft in the world, with a top speed of 325 mph at 20,000 feet.
28/7/1935, The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber made its first flight at Seattle.
13/4/1935. London to Australia air service began. The route was operated by Imperial Airways and QANTAS. The service took 12 days, 31 stops, and involved 4 different aircraft. There was also a train journey from Paris to Brindisi included.
8/12/1934, The London to Australia airmail service was inaugurated.
20/10/1934. An air race began at Mildenhall, Suffolk, at 6.30am. A prize of £10,000 and a £500 gold cup went to the fastest flight to Australia. It was won by the Briton, Mr T Campbell-Black and Mr C W Scott, who flew a De Havilland Comet to Australia in 2 days, 22 hours, and 58 minutes.
5/4/1934, Joan Meakin became the first female glider pilot to fly over the English Channel.
3/2/1934, The first regular transatlantic mail service was begun by Deutsche Lufthansa between Berlin and Buenos Aires via Stuttgart, Seville, Bathurst and Natal.
1933, Air France was founded, by a merger of Aeropostale and another carrier.
9/12/1933. London to Singapore air service began.
22/7/1933. Wiley Post, 34, completed the first solo round the world flight. He also sliced 21 hours off the previous record for a round the world flight of 8 days 15 hours 51 minutes he achieved with his navigator Harold Gatty.
10/4/1933. A world air speed record of 424 mph was set by Francesco Agello.
3/4/1933. Two British planes became the first to fly over Mount Everest.
6/2/1933, Gayford and Nicholetts began a non-stop flight from England to Africa.
27/4/1932. (1) The Imperial Airways London to Cape Town air service was inaugurated.
(2) Mr C W Scott flew from Lympne, Kent, to Darwin, northern Australia, in 8 days, 20 hours, 47 minutes.
28/3/1932. Mr J A Mollison flew from England to Cape Town in 4 days, 17 hours, 19 minutes, beating the previous record by 15 hours, 18 minutes.
20/1/1932. The first airmail service between London and Cape Town.
1931, Swissair was created, from a merger between Balair and Ad Astra Aero.
30/12/1931. Mr Fielder, a British pilot, flew from London to Algiers in a day.
9/11/1931. A C Butler set a new speed record for flying from England to Port Darwin, in 9 days, 2 hours, 29 minutes.
5/11/1931. Miss Peggy Salaman and Mr Gordon Stone set a new record in aviation, flying from England to the Cape, South Africa, in 5 days, 6 hours, 40 minutes.
8/8/1931, The US airship Akron was launched by Mrs Hoover.
4/4/1931, The first airmail left Croydon aerodrome for Australia.
27/5/1931, Professor Auguste Picard became the first
man to reach the stratosphere. He
ascended 9 ¾ miles in a balloon from
3/9/1930, The first non-stop flight from Paris to New York was made by Dieudonne Costes and Maurice Bellonte.
22/8/1930. The remains of the Swedish aeronaut, Andree, were discovered on White Island.
1/8/1930. The airship R101 arrived in Montreal after a flight of 79 hours from Cardington, Bedfordshire.
28/7/1930, The airship R101 began its maiden flight across the Atlantic.
24/5/1930, Amy Johnson arrived in
15/5/1930, Registered nurse Ellen Church became the world’s first air hostess, on a United Airlines flight from Oakland California to Cheyenne, Wyoming. She had written herself to the airline suggesting that young ladies like herself be employed as cabin attendants. Ellen was taken on and charged with training 7 others, who had to be under 5 ft 4 inches high, weigh under 115 lb, and be registered nurses aged under 25. They were paid US$ 125 a month for 100 hours flying in an unheated unpressurised aircraft; they also carried passengers baggage, cleaned the interior of the plane, and assisted the pilot and mechanic to push the plane in and out of the hangar. In flight they served standard meals of fried chicken, fruit cocktail and bread rolls, and tea or coffee. The total ,flight, with four intermediate stops, was scheduled as 18 hours but generally took nearer 24 hours. The pilots, and especially their wives, did not welcome the new employees at first. However the passengers appreciated the service and they stayed on.
16/1/1930. The airship R100 reached 81 ½ mph in a trial flight.
1929, US commercial airlines flew 30 million miles and carried 180,000 passengers, a rise from 6 million miles and 37,000 passengers during 1927.
1929, LOT Polish Airlines was established.
29/11/1929. US Admiral Richard Byrd, with pilot Bernt Balchen, became the first to fly over the South Pole.
22/10/1929, The Brazilian airline Panair do Brasil began operation as NYRBA do Brasil S.A.
14/10/1929, The R101 airship went on its first trials above London from its Cardington hangar in Bedfordshire. The airship was 732 feet long and held 5 million cubic feet of hydrogen; power was from 5 diesel engines.
10/9/1929. A British seaplane reached a record speed of 355.8 mph.
4/9/1929, The German airship Graf Zeppelin completed its 20-day round the world trip from Friedrichshafen on the shore of lake Constance via Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Lakehurst.
26/4/1929. The first non-stop flight from England to India of 4,130 miles in 50 hours 37 minutes was made by two RAF officers. They were Squadron leader A G Jones-Williams and Flight Lieutenant N H Jenkins.
14/4/1929. The first air mail from India arrived at Croydon.
30/3/1929, The first commercial air service between London and Karachi began.
17/2/1929, The first in-flight movie was shown, on an internal flight in the USA.
15/10/1928. The German airship Graf Zeppelin, captained by Hugo Eckener,
completed its first transatlantic flight. It flew from Friedrichshafen, Germany, to
11/10/1928, The LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin departed Friedrichshafen with 20 passengers and 40 crew, bound for the United States.
18/6/1928. Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer who was the first to reach the South Pole in 1911, was lost in the North Sea after a flying accident..
15/6/1928. A race between a train and a plane from London to Edinburgh was won by the train, the ‘Flying Scotsman’.
8/6/1928, Charles Kingsford-Smith and Captain Ulm completed the first flight across the Pacific, landing at Brisbane, Australia. They had taken off from Oakland, California, and flew via Hawaii and Fiji in their plane, the Southern Cross.
15/5/1928. Australia began the flying doctor service. It began at Cloncurry, Queensland; the first doctor was Dr Vincent Welsh.
22/2/1928. Mr Bert Hinkler arrived in Port Darwin, having set a record time for the flight from England, 15 ½ days.
10/1/1928. Aviators Hood
were lost whilst attempting the first flight across the Tasman Sea, from
14/10/1927, Dieudonne Costas and Joseph Le Brix became the first persons to fly an airplane across the South Atlantic Ocean, and the first to make an east-to-west transatlantic crossing, departing Saint-Louis, Senegal and arriving in Port Natal, Brazil 21 hours and 15 minutes later, at 11:40 pm local time.
21/5/1927. Charles A Lindbergh completed the first solo Atlantic flight. He took off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, flew his monoplane Spirit of St Louis for 33 ½ hours, and landed at Le Bourget airfield, Paris. Landing in Paris, he won the US$ 25,000 prize for the first solo flight across the Atlantic.
1/5/1927, The first airline cooked meals were served, from a galley aboard the Imperial Airways Silver Ewing London to Paris flights. The galley could serve up to 18 passengers.
8/1/1927. The first scheduled flight from London to Delhi arrived in India.
13/11/1926, In Italy, Mario de Bernardi set a new seaplane speed record of 246 mph.
1/10/1926, Alan Cobham made a round the world flight in 58 days.
12/5/1926. Roald Amundsen flew in the airship Norge over the North Pole. They had left Spitsbergen on 11/5 and landed on 14/5/1926 at Teller, Alaska.
9/5/1926, Richard Byrd, American explorer, made the first flight over the North Pole, with pilot Floyd Bennett.
6/1/1926. The German airline Lufthansa was founded.
6/4/1925. The first in-flight movie was shown; The Lost World.
28/9/1924, Lieutenants Smith and Nelson, in US Army Douglas airplanes, completed the first circumnavigation of the globe. They flew a total of 26,103 miles, with 57 stops.
1/4/1924. Britain’s national airline, Imperial Airways, was created by amalgamating four smaller aviation companies. These were Handley Page Transport, Daimler Airway, Instone Airline and British Marine Air Navigation. These four companies were unprofitable, and the government realised that, as in other countries, they way forward was a national carrier, with strong financial support from public funds.
1/3/1923, The Czechoslovak national airline, CSA, was set up.
13/2/1923, Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager, American pilot, first to fly at supersonic speed, was born.
9/2/1923, The Soviet national airline, now called Aeroflot, was established; then known as Dobrolet.
1/1/1923, A French pilot set a new air speed record of 217 mph.
20/10/1922, Lieutenant Harold Harris became the first person to avoid death by usng a parachute in a real emergency.
5/9/1922, American aviator James Doolittle made the first coast to coast flight across the USA, taking 21 hours 19 minutes.
6/8/1922, Freddie Laker, British airline operator, was born.
2/4/1922, Jack Sanderson became the world’s first airline steward, on the London-Paris route.
1/12/1921, The US Navy airship Goodyear became the first such craft to fly using helium gas. This was much safer than hydrogen; however the gas was then only found within the US, and for military reasons its use was denied to other countries. Use of hydrogen in 1937 caused the Hindenburg airship disaster in 1937, and finally doomed airships as a means of transport.
3/8/1921, The first aerial crop spraying took place at Troy Ohio, to clear a catalpa grove infested with leaf caterpillars. Powdered arsenate of lead was sprayed over the trees. 99% of the insects were killed.
14/4/1921. Air services between London and Amsterdam resumed.
19/3/1921. Daily air service between Paris and London resumed.
18/2/1921. The first helicopter flew, designed in France by Etienne Oemichen.
3/1/1921, The airships R 36 and R 37 were built; they were capable of carrying 50 passengers.
15/9/1920. New air mail services began in Europe, from Copenhagen to Amsterdam, London, and Hamburg.
3/7/1920. The first RAF air display took place at Hendon.
1/7/1920, Germany surrendered her largest airship, the L-71 to Britain.
20/5/1920. Charles Lindbergh took off on the first transatlantic solo flight.
17/5/1920. KLM, the national airline of The Netherlands, began its first scheduled service, between Amsterdam and London. See 7/10/1919.
4/2/1920, Aviators Pierre van Ryneveld and C J Quinton took off from Brooklands airfield on the first flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa.
18/12/1919, Death of British aviation expert Sir John Alcock in a flying accident, six months after his pioneering transatlantic flight with Sir Arthur Brown.
12/11/1919. Captain Ross Smith, his brother,
and two others began the first flight from
11/10/1919. The first airline meals were served, on a Handley-Page flight from London to Paris. They were pre-packed lunch boxes priced at 3 shillings (15p).
7/10/1919, KLM, the Dutch national airline, the oldest established air carrier, was established. It began flights on 17/5/1920.
1/9/1919, The first intercontinental air service began, from Toulouse to Barcelona and Tangier. Services were extended to Casablanca in April 1920.
25/8/1919. Air service between London (Hounslow) and Paris (Le Bourget) inaugurated. This was the first international scheduled air service from Britain. The single fare was £21 for the 2 ½ hour journey, compared to the cost of rail and boat at £3 8s 5d. By 1/1/1920 three British companies were operating regular daily air services across The Channel, to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, for passengers, freight, and mail.
13/7/1919, The British airship R34 arrived back in Pulham, Norfolk, having made the first transatlantic aerial round trip; she set out from East Fortune, Scotland, on 2/7/1919.
6/7/1919. The British airship R34 became the first to cross the Atlantic, flying from Edinburgh to New York in 108 hours. She had set out from East Fortune, near Edinburgh, on 2/7/1919. She set off from Long Island on 9/7/1919 on the return journey, arriving in Pulham, Norfolk, on 13/7/1919.
15/6/1919. John Alcock and Arthur Brown completed the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. It took them 16 hours, 12 minutes, to fly from Lester’s Field, St John’s Newfoundland, to Derrygimla Bog, near Clifden, Ireland. They were both knighted for this achievement.
27/5/1919. Lieutenant Commander Read and a crew of five, flying a Curtiss NC 4 seaplane, arrived in Lisbon via The Azores to complete the first flight across the Atlantic. They had left Trepassy, Newfoundland, on 16/5/1919.
26/5/1919, North Sea Aerial Navigation Co inaugurated passenger flights between Hartlepool and Hull. In June further routes began, between Hull, Leeds and Hounslow (for London), and Scarborough, Leeds, Harrogate. Businesspeople liked the new fast link between London and the North.
10/5/1919, The first airline in Britain started. It flew the 50 miles between Alexander Park, Manchester, and Blackpool in a 2-seater single engine Avro biplane. Services lasted until 30/9/1919, and cost £2 2s single or £4 4s return..
15/4/1919, Passenger air services on a route between Berlin, Hanover and Rotthausen began, also Berlin to Warnemunde.
1/3/1919, Passenger air services between Berlin and Hamburg began.
6/2/1919, The first regular passenger air service. Planes flew from Berlin to Weimar, carrying mainly mail and newspapers, but some passengers also.
15/5/1918, The US inaugurated the world’s first regular air mail service between New York and Washington. The US Navy operated the service, for the US Post Office.
21/4/1918, Manfred von Richtofen, the ‘Red Baron’, German World War One air ace, was shot down and died in his famous red tri-plane behind British lines.
1/4/1918. The Royal Air Force was formed, by amalgamating
the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Lord Rothermere at the Air Ministry in The
1917, The earliest experiments, by Germany, with the use of ‘barrage balloons’. These were hydrogen-filled balloons whose function was to hoist cables up to 3,000 metres high in the sky to disable enemy planes flying low. Several such balloons provided a ‘barrage’ of cables to protect cities; hieghts above 3,000 metres wree impractical due to the weight of the cable. Bomber planes could target less accurately if fliyng high, and the cables could force planes into areas where they could be targeted by anti-aircraft fire.
20/10/1917. 4 Zeppelins were shot down over France after raids on the UK.
1/10/1917. Air raids on London.
20/8/1917, Over 100 killed in an air raid on Thanet and Sheppey.
7/7/1917. Air raids on London and Margate killed 97 and injured 193.
25/5/1917. Air raid on Folkestone.
8/3/1917. Graf von Zeppelin, German airship pioneer, died in Charlottenburg, near Berlin.
1/10/1916. A Zeppelin was brought down at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.
3/9/1916. The first Zeppelin was shot down, by Captain Leefe Robinson, at Cuffley, Hertfordshire, using the newly-invented Pomeroy incendiary bullets.
15/7/1916, Edward Boeing set up the Pacific Aero Products Company in Seattle.
28/5/1916, The Sopwith triplane, the first triplane fighter to enter military service, was introduced by the British.
1/4/1916, A German Zeppelin airship dropped its bombs on Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.
19/3/1916. German seaplane raids on Deal, Dover, Margate, and Ramsgate.
31/1/1916. Zeppelin raids on Shrewsbury killed 59 persons.
29/1/1916. Zeppelins bombed Paris for the first time.
7/6/1915, The British air force downed a German Zeppelin. Sub-Lieutenant Warneford took his aircraft over the airship and dropped six 20-pound bombs, one of which hit its target. For this Warneford was awarded the Victoria Cross.
27/5/1915. Zeppelin raid on Southend, Essex.
26/5/1915. The first Zeppelin raids on London. A ton of bombs was dropped from one airship, killing 7 and injuring 15.
raid on Ramsgate,
10/5/1915. Zeppelin raid on Southend, Essex.
30/4/1915. Zeppelin air raids on Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.
14/4/1915. Zeppelin air raid on Lowestoft and Maldon, Essex.
20/3/1915. German air raid on Deal, Kent.
21/2/1915. German air raid on Essex.
11/2/1915. British seaplanes and airplanes bombarded Bruges and Ostend.
15/1/1915. German Zeppelin airships dropped bombs on villages in Norfolk, killing five people. Great Yarmouth was bombed.
29/12/1914, The first Zeppelin appeared over the British coast.
11/12/1914, The Royal Flying Corps adopted the roundel now used by the RAF.
9/12/1914, The first warship built as an aircraft carrier was commissioned. HMS Ark Royal, originally designed as a merchant ship, but acquired by The Admiralty whilst under construction at Blyth, was launched in September 1914.
4/10/1914, The first bomb was dropped on London.
24/9/1914, First use of radio in an aircraft in warfare, during the First Battle of the Aisne.
23/9/1914. British aviators bombed the Zeppelin shed at Dusseldorf.
19/8/1914, First use of aerial reconnaissance by Britain in warfare. Captain Philip Joubert de la Ferte and Lt Gilbert Mapplebeck flew over Nivelle and Genappe, to ascertain the positions of Belgian troops and German cavalry.
23/6/1914, Britain’s Royal Air Force was formed.
1/1/1914, The USA’s first regular passenger air service began. Passengers were carried, on at a time, twenty miles across Tampa Bay between St Petersburg and Tampa, Florida, for US$ 5, saving a 36 mile road trip around the Bay. The service was discontinued after 4 months.
20/8/1913. Adolphe Pegond baled out of a plane at 700 feet, becoming the first person to parachute from a plane.
13/5/1913, The Russians first flew the biggest aircraft to date. Designed by Sikorsky, with a 92-foot wingspan, the Bolshoi offered luxurious civilian transport, with armchairs, sofas and ample vodka. It was also the first plane to be fitted with a toilet.
1912, The world’s first aeronautical library was established by French engineer AG Eiffel, designer of the 1889 Eiffel Tower in Paris. The library at Auteuil was dedicated to the study of aerodynamics and air currents.
19/9/1912, The first scheduled international airline service began, when Count Zeppelin’s airships started a regular service between Hamburg, Germany, and Copenhagen, Denmark, and on to Malmo, Sweden.
30/5/1912, Wilbur Wright, older of the two Wright Brothers who invented the airplane, died aged 45 of typhoid fever at Dayton, Ohio. Wilbur had become ill on 4/5/1912 while on a business trip to Boston. On 17/12/1903 Wilbur became the second man to pilot an airplane, after his brother Orville made the first flight.
8/5/1912, Pilot Lieutenant Samson, flying a Short S38, made the first ever take off from a moving ship. The HMS Hibernia, off Weymouth, was moving at 10 knots.
30/4/1912, Wilbur Wright, American aviation
pioneer and first to make a controlled flight in 1903, died in
13/4/1912, In Britain the Royal Flying Corps, forerunner of the Royal Air Force, was formed.
7/3/1912. Henri Semiet made the first non-stop flight from London to Paris, taking three hours.
1/3/1912, The first parachute jump from a moving plane was made, over Missouri, USA, by Albert Berry. He jumped at 1500 feet over Jefferson Barracks, St Louis.
10/1/1912, The first flying boat, designed by Glenn Curtis, made its maiden voyage at Hammondsport, New York.
10/11/1911, The first regular civil airmail service began between Hounslow (London) and Paris. Mail was surcharged at 2s 6d an ounce, of which the airline received b2s. The high price deterred customers, and an average of only 46 letters a day were carried.
1/11/1911. The world’s first air raid. The Italian, Lt Guilio Gavotti, took off from
23/10/1911. First aerial reconnaissance in warfare. The Italian Captain Piazza, during the Italian Turkish war of 1910-11, took off from Tripoli and flew over Turkish troops camped at Aziza.
9/9/1911, The first experimental airmail service in Britain began, operating between Hendon aerodrome and Windsor, 19 miles . The service was discontinued on 26/9/1911.
3/8/1911. Aeroplanes were put to military use, when Italian planes reconnoitred the Turkish lines near Tripoli.
12/5/1911. Display of military aviation at Hendon.
18/2/1911. The first official airmail flight. Henri Pecquet flew a load of 6,000 letters and cards 5 miles from Allahabad, India, to Naini Junction, where they were transferred to the railway.
18/1/1911. US pilot Eugene Ely, in a Curtiss aircraft, made the first landing on the deck of a ship; the cruiser Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay.
18/12/1910. Mr Tom Sopwith won a £4,000 aviation prize by flying from Eastchurch, Sheppey, to Beaumont, Belgium. He covered the 177 miles in 3 ½ hours.
14/11/1910. Pilot Eugene Ely, in a Curtiss biplane, made the first take-off from a ship, the US light cruiser Birmingham, at anchor in Chesapeake Bay.
11/8/1910. Mr Drexel set a new aviation altitude record, reaching 6,750 feet in a Bleriot monoplane.
9/6/1910, The first trials of aircraft reconnaissance. During a record-breaking2 ½ hour, 145 km, flight from Camp de Chalons, Mourmelon, to Vincennes, Captain Marconnet, squeezed between the pilot and the engine, took aerial photographs of the territory below.
4/6/1910, Christopher Cockerell, who invented the
amphibious hovercraft, was born in
2/6/1910. Mr C S Rolls flew from Dover to Calais and back without landing in France, taking 90 minutes for the whole return journey.
18/5/1910. The first Air Traffic Conference opened in Paris.
28/4/1910. M Paulham flew from London to Manchester, winning the Daily Mail prize of £10,000 for the first person to accomplish this.
28/3/1910. The first seaplane took off, from near Marseilles. Called the Hydravion, it was designed by Frenchman Henri Fabre. It flew 1,650 feet.
10/3/1910. The world’s first night aeroplane flight was made, in Argentina by Aubrun.
7/1/1910. Mr Latham broke the record height in aviation by exceeding 3,000 feet.
31/12/1909, Henry Ferguson made the first aeroplane flight from Irish soil, at Hillsborough near Belfast.
30/12/1909, The first aeroplane flight of over 100 miles was made
16/10/1909, The first commercial airline began. Count Zeppelin’s Deutsche Luftschiffahrt Aktiengesellschaft, or Delag, flew airships between the major German cities.
1/8/1909. The US military accepted its first heavier-than-air flying machine, built by the Wright Brothers, on 2/8/1909.
25/7/1909. Louis Bleriot became the first man to fly across the English Channel. He flew from Les Barques near Calais to Northfall Meadow near Dover Castle, covering 26 miles in 43 minutes. Aged 37, born on 1/7/1872 in Cambrai, France, Bleriot won £1,000 for his flight, in a plane designed by himself, a prize awarded by the Daily Mail for the first person to perform this feat. Bleriot died in August 1936. The British now realised that the Channel was less of a defensive barrier than it used to be.
20/6/1909. The German Army adopted the Zeppelin as its first air arm.
5/4/1909, The Aerial
League of the
19/3/1909, Britain’s first international aircraft exhibition opened.
31/12/1908, Wilbur Wright set a new aeroplane flight duration time of 2 hours 20 minutes.
24/12/1908, In Paris, President Armand Fallieres opened the first international aviation show.
18/12/1908, Wilbur Wright became the first man to attain the height of 360 feet in a plane.
21/10/1908. Over London the suffragettes made the first ever leaflet raid, hiring an airship and throwing out leaflets demanding ‘Votes for Women!’.
16/10/1908, The first powered aeroplane flight in Britain, at Farnborough, piloted by the American Samuel Franklin Cody. He flew 1,390 feet in 27 seconds.
14/8/1908, An airship blew up over London, killing one person.
21/3/1908, Frenchman Henri Farman piloted the world’s first passenger flight, over Paris.
8/1/1908, Count Von Zeppelin announced plans to build an airship capable of carrying 100 people.
13/11/1907, In France, Mr Paul Cornu built a prototype helicopter, or ‘direct lifter’ as he called it. It rose 4 feet into the air and stayed there for 60 seconds.
10/9/1907, Britain’s first military airship flew successfully at Farnborough.
1/7/1907, The US established the world’s first air force. The aeronautical division of the US Army’s Signal Office was set up under the command of Captain Chandler. The force consisted of one officer, one NCO, and one enlisted man. It had one aircraft, which had to be capable of flying for one hour at 36 mph. The biplane was delivered to Fort Meyer, Virginia, for test flights in August 1908. It crashed in September 1908 and a new Wright Flyer was ordered. This was delivered on 2/8/1909. By 1914 the US air force had just 6 planes.
1/6/1907, Sir Frank Whittle, inventor of jet propulsion, was born in
30/3/1907, The first commercially produced aircraft was delivered to its purchaser, marking the start of the world’s aviation industry. Paris sculptor Leon Delagrange ordered the biplane from Voisin Freres, Billancourt, France.
11/11/1906, The first balloon crossing of the Alps. A balloon piloted by Murillo and Cresti lifted off from Milan and passed over Mont Blanc, highest peak of the Alps.
7/7/1906, Britain’s first hot air balloon race.
22/5/1906, Wilbur Wright patented his aircraft.
5/10/1905. Orville Wright became the first man to fly an aircraft for 38 minutes. He flew in a 24.5 mile circular course at Dayton, Ohio.
25/5/1905, Europe’s first flight by a heavier-than-air machine.
11/2/1905, 11 Frenchmen landed in Crystal Palace from a hot air balloon after crossing the Channel.
20/9/1904. The US Army rejected heavier than air flying machines.
17/12/1903. The Wright Brothers made the first successful controlled heavier-than-air flight. The flight, over the sand dunes at Kill Devil Hill, near Kittyhawk, North Carolina, lasted for 12 seconds at a height of 8 to 12 feet and an air speed of 30 to 35 mph. The flight was 120 foot long. Three subsequent flights were made, the longest being 59 seconds and 852 foot long, before their craft was damaged by a sudden gust of wind.
12/11/1903, The Lebaudy brothers made a fully controlled dirigible flight, navigating 37 miles from Moisson to Paris.
1/7/1903, The aviator Amy Johnson was born in
22/9/1902. The earliest British airship, 75 foot long, built by Stanley Spencer, made its maiden flight of 30 miles from Crystal Palace, London.
23/10/1901, Alberto Santos Dumont, Brazilian aviator (see 19/10/1906) collected a prize for the first officially-observed powered flight in Europe. He flew his airship from St Cloud to the Eiffel Tower and back, taking 30 minutes.
19/10/1901, Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Dumont circumnavigated the Eiffel Tower in his airship, winning an aviation prize, see 23/10/1901.
2/7/1900. The first Zeppelin airship made its maiden flight from a floating hangar on Lake Constance, Germany. It had been invented by Count Zeppelin, aged 62, who had retired from the army 10 years ago. Zeppelin had made balloon ascents as a military observer during the American Civil War. Powered by a 16 hp engine, the airship had a top speed of 20 mph; it attained a height of 1,000 feet.
26/6/1898, Wilhelm Messerschmitt, German aviation engineer and designer, was born in Frankfurt.
24/7/1897, Amelia Earhart, aviator, was born in Atchison, Kansas.
9/2/1897, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Australian aviator, was born.
6/5/1896, In the US, Samuel Pierpoint Langley succeeded in flying a glider 3,300 feet (one kilometre).
6/11/1892, The aviator Sir John Alcock was born in Manchester. In 1919 he made the first transatlantic flight, with Sir Arthur Whitten-Brown.
9/10/1890, Clement Ader, Frenchman, flew his monoplane, the Ecole, 165 feet. However it was not a truly sustained or controllable flight.
6/4/1890, Birth of Anthony Fokker, Dutch aircraft manufacturer (died 1939).
25/5/1889, Igor Sikorsky, American engineer who pioneered the helicopter, was born in Kiev.
12/8/1888, An airship designed by the German, Karl Woelfort, was tested with a Daimler petrol engine. The invention of a light yet powerful engine, along with the invention in 1886 of a method of mass producing the lightweight metal aluminium (using electrolysis) meant that practical steerable airships, or dirigibles, were now possible.
18/1/1888. Birth of aviation pioneer Sir Thomas Sopwith.
26/9/1887, Barnes Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb used in World War Two, and inventor and designer of aircraft, was born.
23/7/1886, Birth of Sir Arthur Brown, future co-pilot in the first ever trans-Atlantic flight.
27/7/1882, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, British aircraft designer and manufacturer, born in Woburn, Buckinghamshire.
5/12/1879, Clyde Cessna, American aircraft manufacturer, was born in Hawthorne, Iowa.
13/12/1872, Haenlein fitted the first internal combustion engine to an airship. However the craft only made a tethered display and further development was shelved for lack of funds.
1/7/1872, Louis Bleriot, French aviation pioneer, was born.
19/8/1871. Orville Wright, American aviation pioneer, was born in Dayton, Ohio, the younger of two brothers.
28/1/1871. Starving and surrounded by Prussian troops, Paris surrendered to Germany. During the 5-month siege, balloons were used to maintain contact with the rest of France. The Prussians tried to shoot the balloons down, so the French switched to night flights.
23/9/1870, The French defenders, surrounded and under siege in Paris, succeeded in sending a balloon out with 227 pounds of mail. It passed over and beyond Prussian lines, giving news to the French provisional Government at Tours. The balloon was piloted by James Durouf.
16/4/1867. The American aviation pioneer, Wilbur Wright, was born. He was the elder of the two brothers.
12/1/1866, The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain was formed. The only means of flying was then by balloon.
18/10/1863. A French photographer called Nadar took the first aerial photographs from his balloon, The Giant. However the trip ended with Nadar breaking his leg, near Hanover.
1/10/1861, The US Army formed a Balloon Corps. It had 50 men, 7 balloons, and was commended by Chief Aeronaut Thaddeus Lowe.
18/6/1861, Thaddeus Lowe sent the world’s first aerial telegram. Using apparatus hoisted up in a tethered balloon, he sent his dispatch to President Lincoln.
1/7/1859. The first mail was transported by balloon. John Wise and three others piloted their machine the 812 miles between St Louis, Missouri, and Henderson, New York State, in 19 hours and 40 minutes.
2/5/1857, The French inventor Felix du Temple patented designs for an aircraft with a retractable undercarriage.
1853, The first manned heavier-than-air flight took place. Sir George Cayley, aged 80, who had written on the topic of heavier-tha-aor flight in 1809 in his paper “On Aerial Navigation”, glided 500 yards across a valley.
25/9/1852, The Mechanic’s Magazine published the plans of a heavier-than-air glider capable of carrying a person.
24/9/1852, The first airship made its maiden flight from the Hippodrome, Paris, travelling 17 miles to Trappes at 8 mph. It was piloted by Henri Giffard. However the craft could only travel in calm weather.
22/8/1848, The world’s first aerial bombing raid was carried out by the Austrians against the defenders of Venice. Unmanned hot air balloons with 30 pound bombs were sent across; they caused little damage but much bemusement.
8/7/1838, Count Zeppelin, German builder of airships, was born in Constance.
7/11/1836, The hot air balloon Nassau, lifted by 85,000 cubic feet of coal gas, took off from London’s Vauxhall Gardens with three passengers. They flew over Liege and Coblenz, and landed 18 hours later in the Nassau region. Coal gas was a cheaper lifting gas than hydrogen.
7/7/1819, The widow of Blanchard, who had continued his aviation career after he died of a heart attack, herself died in a ballooning accident. Her craft was ignited by a stray firework during a display at the Tivoli Gardens, Paris.
22/6/1817. Windham Sadler crossed the St George’s Channel by balloon.
7/3/1809, Jean Pierre Blanchard, French balloonist, who was the first person to cross the English Channel by air, died at La Haye during practice jumps from a balloon.
3/5/1808. The first duel to be fought from two hot air balloons was held over Paris; one combatant was shot dead.
22/10/1797. Andre-Jacques Garnerin, 28, made a parachute descent, from 2,230 feet, from a hot air balloon. He jumped over the Parc Monceau, Paris. This was not the first parachute jump, but Garnerin had improved the device so as to enable descents from a greater height then ever before.
26/6/1794, The French defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Fleurus. Balloon reconnaissance of the enemy was used by the French, from a tethered balloon, for the first time.
2/4/1794, The French military formed a company of Aerostiers for military observation from tethered hot air balloons.
15/9/1784, The first hydrogen balloon ascent from London was made.
9/1/1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard made the first ascent in a balloon in America, near Woodbury, New Jersey.
19/1/1785, The first balloon ascent in Ireland was made, from Ranelagh Gardens, Dublin.
7/1/1785. Jean-Pierre Blanchard, and his sponsor, the American Dr John Jefferies, made the first hot air balloon crossing of the English Channel from Dover to Calais.
1/12/1783, Jacques Charles flew a 28-foot diameter hydrogen balloon made of silk, coated with rubber to make it airtight. It flew 27 miles from its start in Paris.
21/11/1783. Man’s first free flight was made by Jean De Rosier and the Marquis D’Arlandes in the hot air balloon, the Montgolfier They travelled five miles in 25 minutes, reaching a height of 500 feet before landing safely near the Luxembourg Wood. On 4/6/1783 they had constructed an unmanned prototype, based on the ideas of the 14th century Augustinian monk, Albert of Saxony, and the 17th century priest, Francesco de Luna. On 17/10/1783 Pilatre de Rozier rose 84 feet in a hot air balloon before it reached the end of its tether. On 1/12/1783 the Montgolfier’s rivals Charles, and Robert ascended in a hydrogen balloon. On 27/8/1783 Jacques Alexandre Cesar Charles, a member of the French Academy of Science, had launched a prototype hydrogen balloon.
15/10/1783, Francois Pilatre de Rozier made the world’s manned first flight, in a tethered balloon.
17/9/1783, In France, King Louis XVI watched as two French papermakers, Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, sent a large hot air balloon into the sky with a sheep, a rooster and a duck on board. The balloon reached 1500 feet and landed a mile away; the rooster was killed ut the sheep and duck survived unharmed.
27/8/1783, Jacques Cesar Charles, a rival hot air balloon maker to Montgolfier who preferred hydrogen to hot air, launched his balloon. It drifted 15 miles from Paris to Gonesse where it was hacked to pieces by frightened peasants; it expired with much hissing.
5/6/1783, The Montgolfier Brothers flew the first hot air balloon. Unmanned, it ascended to 2,000 metres and remained there for ten minutes.
26/8/1740. Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, pioneer balloonist, was born in Annonay, France. He and his brother got the idea for hot air balloons by filling paper bags with smoke from a fire and watching them rise to the ceiling.
8/8/1709, Father de Gusmao demonstrated a model hot air balloon indoors in the palace of King John V of Portugal. It rose 12 foot and threatened the expensive curtains with its firebox. Servants shot the contraption down. Most balloon demonstrations after that took place outdoors.
3/1/1496, Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tested a flying machine.
Appendix 1 – Air accidents and disasters
18/5/2016, An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo crashed in the Mediterranean north west of the Nile Delta.
31/10/2015, A Russian plane disintegrated in mid-air shortly after taking off from Sharm el Sheikh airport, Egypt, on a flight back to St Petersburg. All 224 people on board were killed.
24/3/2015, A Germanwings plane, flying from Spain to Germany, crashed into the Alps, killing all 320 on board. It appeared that the co-pilot, having spiked the pilot’s coffee with a diuretic to ensure he left the cockpit for the toilet, then locked him out of the cabin and deliberately crashed the plane into the mountains at speed.
28/12/2014, An Air Asia flight crashed into the Java Sea off Borneo, killing all 162 people on board. It had climbed too steeply and then stalled.
24/7/2014, An Air Algerie flight en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers crashed in the Sahara Desert; it was initially uncertain whether sandstorms or terrorist activity was the cause.
8/3/2014, A Malaysia Airlines flight from Malaysia to China vanished over the South China Sea. Initial suspicions that it had crashed gave way to reports that its tracking systems had been deliberately switched off and it had flown on for hours afterwards, possibly as far as Kazakhstan, or had gone down in the southern Indian Ocean. The fate of the plane remained unknown by end August 2014; by which time UK£ 28.5 million had been spent on searching the seabed for it. In September 2014 a new search initiative began, across an area of ocean of 1.1 million square kilometres west of Australia, at a further cost of UK£ 29.4 million.
1/6/2009, Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed in the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 288 on board.
15/1/2009, The ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ occurred when US Airline flight 1549 hit birds just after takeoff from New York. Both the plane’s engines were knocked out and with insufficient height to glide to any airstrip the pilot Captain Sullenberger put the aeroplane down flawlessly on the River Hudson. All 155 passengers and crew survived.
12/2/2002, An Iranian airliner crashed, killing 117.
25/7/2000. An Air France Concorde exploded and crashed into a hotel near Paris shortly after taking off from Charles De Gaulle airport, bound for New York, killing all 109 people on board, and 5 on the ground. A piece of metal on the runway caused a tyre on Concorde to burst, and rubber fragments punctured a fuel tank in the wing of the aircraft. Fuel streamed into the left engines, robbing them of power. However it was too late for the pilot to abort the takeoff and he attempted to take the aircraft to another nearby airport. A 200 foot long tongue of flame poured from the wing, and after 2 minutes the aircraft crashed into a hotel at Gonesse near Orly Airport, at which the pilot was attempting to land. 4 more died on the ground. It was nearly a year before tests were completed allowing Concorde to fly again, and in 2003 Concorde ceased flying due to lack of demand for its fast but expensive flights, in a time of economic slowdown.
27/1/1993, A DC-3 crashed in Kinshasa, killing 12.
1/12/1992, Two C-141B Starlifters collided in Montana and crashed, 13 died.
24/2/1989, A cargo door fell off a Boeing 747 over the Pacific, killing 51.
9/1/1989. A British Midland Boeing 737 fell short of the runway at East Midlands Airport and ended up on the M.1 motorway, near Kegworth. 47 died in the 12 week old aircraft, 15 seconds away from landing at the airport. Reports suggested the pilot shut down the wrong, good, starboard, engine after being warned of an engine failure. Witnesses saw the port engine on fire.
22/8/1985, 34 died at Manchester Airport when a Boeing 737 burst into flames on the runway.
12/8/1985, In Japan a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 on a domestic flight crashed into a mountain, killing 520 people.
23/6/1985, An Air India jet broke up in mid air off Ireland, killing all 239 on board.
25/5/1979, A DC-10 airliner crashed at Chicago Airport, killing 273.
27/3/1977. Two jumbo jets collided on the ground at the single airstrip of Tenerife Airport, in the fog, killing 582 people. The collision between the KLM and the Pan Am, craft was the worst air disaster ever to date.
3/3/1974, A Turkish Airlines DC10 crashed into a wood near Paris, killing all 344 people on board.
4/6/1973. A Soviet version of Concorde crashed at the Paris Air Show. All six crew, and 27 spectators, were killed. Sabotage was suspected.
5/3/1973, 68 people died when two Spanish airliners collided over France, during a French air traffic controllers strike.
18/6/1972, A BEA Trident airliner crashed at Staines, west London, killing 118.
21/2/1970, Swiss airliner crashed near Baden, killing 47 passengers. Palestinian terrorists claimed responsibility.
4/6/1967, British Midland flight G-ALHG crashed in Hopes Carr, Stockport, Manchester, killing 72 passengers and crew.
24/1/1966, An Air India Boeing 707 crashed into Mont Blanc, killing all 117 passengers on board.
3/6/1962, An Air France Boeing 707, flying from Orly, Paris to Atlanta, Georgia, crashed on take-off, killing 130.
17/3/1957. 22 were killed and several houses demolished when a British European Airways turbo-prop airliner crashed at Manchester’s Ringway Airport. Failure of one wing flap to deploy on landing was blamed; if only one wing flap deployed, the aircraft would flip over on landing, as was seen by witnesses.
11/1/1954, A British Comet jet airliner crashed into the Mediterranean near Elba. The newly discovered phenomenon of metal fatigue was to blame.
2/5/1953, A BOAC Comet airliner crashed near Calcutta. Experts asked why the wings came off in mid air.
28/7/1945, A B-25 bomber crashed into the 78th floor of the Empire State Building, killing the 3 crew and 11 passengers.
6/5/1937. In Lakehurst, New Jersey, the German Zeppelin airship Hindenburg exploded in a ball of flame as it came in to land. 13 of 36 passengers and 22 of the 61 crew died, out of the 97 aboard. Survivors jumped out of the airship as it plunged 20 metres to ground from its mooring tower. The official cause of the explosion was St Elmos Fire, but the flammable silver paint used to coat the airship also contributed. Fire devoured the canvas skin of the aircraft in just over 30 seconds as the 16 bags of hydrogen gas inside ignited. The Hindenburg had first flown in March 1936. Travelling twice as fast as an ocean liner, airships were considered the height of luxury.
12/2/1935, The airship Macon crashed in America.
4/4/1933, The American helium-filled airship Abron crashed into the sea off New Jersey during a violent storm.
5/10/1930. The 777-foot long British airship R101 crashed at the edge of a wood near Beauvais, France during a storm, killing 48 people, out of 54 passengers and crew. The airship hit a hill and exploded. It was captained by Flight Lieutenant Irwin, on a flight from Cardington, Bedfordshire, to India. UK Air Minister Lord Thompson was on board, and may have contributed to the disaster with his large amount of luggage, equivalent to the weight of about 24 people. Britain abandoned all airship construction.
7/4/1922, The first collision between airliners. A Farman Goliath operated by French airline Grands Express flew into the path of a Daimler Airways DH 18 over Foix, northern France.
24/8/1921. An R38 airship crashed into the Humber at Hull, killing 44 of the 49 crew and passengers.
14/12/1920, The first aeroplane disaster. A Handley page Continental Air Services flight from Cricklewood Aerodrome, London, to Paris crashed into the back of a newly built house at 6, Basinghill, The Ridgeway, and fell in flames in the garden. 4 of the 6 passengers managed to jump clear and escaped major injury; the other 2 passengers and 2 crew were killed.
17/9/1908. The first plane crash fatality occurred when a passenger of Orville Wright died. The fatality was Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, of the US signal corps, and the accident happened near Fort Meyer, Virginia, when a propeller broke in mid-flight and the plane plunged 150 foot to the ground.
Appendix 2 – Airports
27/3/2008, The new British Airways Terminal Five at London Heathrow opened. The baggage system collapsed and many flights were delayed, cancelled, or left without baggage.
28/2/1995, Denver International Airport opened. 23 miles from Denver city centre, it covered 53 square miles, cost US$ 4.9 billion, and replaced the 65-year-old Stapleton Airport.
1/10/1992, Pittsburgh’s new International Airport opened.
26/10/1987. The City Airport in the London Docklands opened for short landing and take-off aircraft.
5/6/1985, The UK Government approved Stanstead as London’s third airport site.
14/11/1983, The world’s largest airport opened near Riyadh. The King Khalid International Airport covered 86 square miles of desert and cost £2.1 billion.
9/6/1978, Prince Charles opened new terminal facilities at Gatwick Airport.
18/7/1974, The Maplin Project, which would have created a seaport and airport combined the size of Rotterdam off the Essex coast, was scrapped.
8/3/1974, Charles de Gaulle airport at Paris was opened.
13/1/1974, The world’s largest airport opened, at Dallas, Texas, USA.
26/4/1971, The British government announced its intention to build a third London airport at Foulness.
12/5/1967, The British Government chose Stansted as the site for London’s third airport. Protestors won another enquiry, scheduled for February 1968.
1/4/1966, The newly-created British Airports Authority took responsibility for London’s’ Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.
24/3/1964, Stanstead, Essex, was provisionally chosen as the site of London’s third airport.
23/4/1959, Britain’s first heliport opened, on the River Thames in London.
9/6/1958. Gatwick Airport was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. (see 6/6/1936). The new facilities cost £7 million.
16/12/1955, The new terminal buildings at London Heathrow were completed.
20/7/1954. The expansion of Gatwick Airport was approved by a public committee.
31/5/1946, Heathrow was officially opened as London Airport.
5/1944, Construction work began on London’s Heathrow Airport.
8/7/1939. Birmingham Airport was officially opened by the Duke of Kent. In 1929 Birmingham City Council decided the city should have an airport, and in 1933 a site at Elmdon, 8 miles from the city centre, was chosen. After the opening in 1939 services to Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Ryde, Manchester, and Southampton began. However just 2 months after opening the airport was requisitioned by the Air Ministry as World War Two began. In July 1946 civilian flights resumed from Birmingham and 1949 saw its first overseas flight, to Paris. In the 1950s flights began to Zurich, Dusseldorf, Palma, and Amsterdam. By the early 1970s the terminal was suffering from congestion as over one million passengers used the airport each year. The main runway was extended, and there was further expansion when the National Exhibition Centre opened in 1974. Concorde landed there in 1981 and the Queen opened a new passenger terminal in 1984. In 1999, 7 million passengers used the airport.
6/6/1936. Gatwick Airport opened. It was reopened as an international airport on 9/6/1958.
1/7/1933, Speke aerodrome, Liverpool, opened.
2/5/1928. Croydon Airport officially opened.
30/1/1928, Croydon Aerodrome began operations, see 29/3/1920 and 2/5/1928.
29/3/1920, Croydon was designated as London’s official airport, and Hounslow abandoned, see 30/1/1928.