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The American Experience
Aviation Milestones (1903-1935)
1903 1903December -- Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton, Ohio, flying their "Wright Flyer" at Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, achieve the first powered, heavier-than-air, controlled and sustained flight with a pilot on board. The "Wright Flyer," with Orville at the controls, took off from a launching rail and flew a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds. Three more flights took place that day, with the brothers alternating piloting chores. The longest flight of the day lasted 59 seconds and covered 852 feet.
1909 1909July -- French aviator Louis Bleriot, flying the "Bleriot XI," makes the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air craft. Traveling at an average speed of 36 miles per hour, Bleriot covered the 23-mile distance in 37 minutes. His single-seat aircraft was able to stay airborne for up to three hours, and could reach an altitude of 1,640 feet in five minutes.
August -- Orville Wright delivers to the U.S. Army Signal Corps a two-seat observation aircraft. Called the Wright Military Flyer, the aircraft could reach a speed of 44 miles per hour in still air, and could remain airborne for up to an hour.
1923 May -- The first non-stop, U.S. coast-to-coast flight is made in a Fokker T-2 in 26 hours, 50 minutes.
1926 May -- Explorers Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett announce that they have made the first flight over the North Pole. Years later, controversy would erupt over whether the two had actually reached the North Pole before turning around.
1927 May -- Charles A. Lindbergh, flying the "Spirit of St. Louis," becomes the first aviator to make a solo, non-stop, transatlantic flight. Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York on May 20 and landed at Le Bourget Field in Paris 33 hours and 30 minutes later. He covered a distance of 3,610 miles. By making the flight, Lindbergh collected a $25,000 purse that had been offered by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig.
1928 May -- British Captain Charles Kingsford-Smith and his crew make the first flight across the Pacific Ocean in a Fokker F-VIIB/3M. Starting in Oakland, California and finishing in Brisbane, Australia on June 9, Kingford-Smith and his crew made stops in Hawaii and Fiji.
November -- Australia's Sir George Hubert Wilkins and Carl Ben Eielson are the first men to fly over Antarctica.
1929 1929November -- Lt. Commander Richard Byrd, along with pilot Bernt Balchen, radio operator Harold June, and photographer Ashley McKinley, makes the first flight over the South Pole. Byrd and company flew in a tri-motored monoplane called the "Floyd Bennett," named for Byrd's co-pilot on his North Pole flight of 1926. Bennett had died the previous year.
1930 October -- Laura Ingalls, flying in a Moth biplane, becomes the first woman to make a solo transcontinental flight. Ingalls took off from Roosevelt Field, New York, on October 5, made nine stops along the way, and landed in Glendale, California, on October 9. Her east-to-west flight took 30 hours and 27 minutes.
1931 October -- The first non-stop flight across the Pacific Ocean is made by Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon, Jr. The two flew a distance of 4,458 miles, from Sabishiro, Japan to Wenatchee, Washington, in 41 hours and 13 minutes in a single-engine, 425-horsepower, Bellanca monoplane.
1932 May -- 1932Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She began her flight at Harbor Grace in Newfoundland and ended it 14 hours and 56 minutes later in London Derry. Earhart crossed the Atlantic with two companions in 1928.
1933 July -- The first round-the-world, solo flight is completed by Wiley Post. Post, flying in a Lockheed Vega monoplane called the "Winnie Mae," traveled a distance of 15,596 miles in 4 days, 19 hours, and 36 minutes. Post's plane was equipped with a Sperry automatic pilot and a directional radio. In making the flight, Post became the first man to fly around the world twice. He and Harold Gatty had accomplished the feat in 1931.

Charles Alfred Anderson of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and Dr. Albert Ernest Forsythe of Atlantic City, New Jersey, become the first African Americans to make a transcontinental flight in their own airplane. The pair took off from Bader Airport in Atlantic City on July 17 and landed in Los Angeles on July 19.
1935 June -- Fred and Algene Key, flying a Curtiss Robin called "Ole Miss," establish a world record for sustained flight, using air-to-air refueling. The Keys took off from Meridian, Mississippi on June 4 and did not touch ground again until July 1. They spent a total of 653 hours and 34 minutes (approximately 27 days) in the air. Thanks to a total of 432 hook-ups with other planes, the Keys were able to receive fuel and supplies.
September --- Howard Hughes, flying a Hughes H-1, sets a world speed record of 352 miles per hour at Santa Ana, California. The H-1 was designed by Hughes and Richard Palmer and built by Glenn Odekirk.
November -- Explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, along with pilot Herbert Hollick-Kenyon, flying a Northrop 2B Gamma Polar Star, take off from Dundee Island in the Weddell Sea. The two were headed across Antarctica to Little America, the camp established by arctic explorer Lt. Commander Richard Byrd. Ellsworth and Hollick-Kenyon were forced to land, 25 miles short of their destination, on December 5 due to lack of fuel. After a six-day journey on foot, they reached their destination. The Polar Star flew approximately 2,400 miles before being forced to land.
1936 September -- The first transatlantic round-trip airplane flight, originating in the United States, is made by Richard Merrill and Harry Richman flying the Lady Peace. Their journey began at Floyd Bennett field in New York on September 2. They were forced to land at Llwyncelyn, Carmarthenshine, Wales the next day. The return flight departed from Southport, England and ended in a crash-landing at Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland, Canada.


1903 - 1936 | 1937 - 1989


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