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.
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.
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.
The first non-stop, U.S. coast-to-coast flight is made in a Fokker T-2 in 26 hours, 50 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
Australia's Sir George Hubert Wilkins and Carl Ben Eielson are the first men to fly over Antarctica.
t. 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.
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.
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 -- Amelia 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Howard Hughes, flying his own Hughes H-1, breaks the U.S. transcontinental speed record, flying from Los Angeles, California to Newark, New Jersey in 7 hours, 28 minutes, and 25 seconds. During the flight Hughes averaged a speed of 332 miles per hour.
Ann Baumgartener Carl of the Women Airforce Service Pilots flies a Bell XP-59A to become the first American woman to fly a jet airplane.
Air Force Major Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, flying the Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glennis," becomes the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound. The "Glamorous Glennis," named after Yeager's wife, reached a speed of 967 miles per hour, Mach 1.06, at an altitude of 70,140 feet. That was the fastest velocity and highest altitude reached by a manned aircraft up to that time.
The first round-the-world, nonstop flight begins on February 26 at Carswell Air Force base in Fort Worth, Texas. Captain James Gallagher, flying the B-50 Superfortress, ended his circumnavigation of the globe on March 2. The plane, carrying a crew of 14, averaged 249 miles per hour on the 23,452-mile trip. The Superfortress was refueled four times in the air by B-29 tanker planes.
Colonel David Carl Schilling of Raleigh, North Carolina makes the first transatlantic, nonstop jet airplane flight. Flying a single-engine F-84E Republic Thunderjet, Schilling traveled a distance of 3,300 miles in 10 hours and 1 minute. The journey began in Manston, England and ended at an Air Force base at Limestone, Maine.
Major Horace C. Boren of Dallas, Texas becomes the first person to circle the globe via commercial airlines in less than 100 hours. Boren stopped at 19 airports during his 21,000-mile jaunt. He arrived at New York International Airport, Idlewild, New York on June 25, having completed his adventure in 99 hours and 16 minutes.
Richard Byrd, along with pilot Bernt Balchen, radio operator Harold June, and photographer Captain 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.
Champion bicyclist and hang-gliding enthusiast Bryan Allen demonstrates sustained, maneuverable, human-powered flight while flying the "Gossamer Condor" for 7 minutes, 2.7 seconds in a closed course. The "Gossamer Condor" was designed by Dr. Paul MacCready and Dr. Peter Lissamen and was made of thin aluminum tubes, mylar plastic, and stainless steel wire. By making the flight, Allen collected the $95,000 Kremer Prize, established in 1959 by British industrialist Henry Kremer.
The first solar-powered long-distance airplane flight is recorded when the "Solar Challenge" flies for 22 minutes over a distance of six miles near Marana, Arizona. The 210-pound plane, constructed of aluminum and plastic, was piloted by Janice Brown.
The first round-the-world flight without refueling is made by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, flying on the Voyager, a front-and-rear propelled plane constructed mainly of plastic. Their 216-hour, 24,986-mile circumnavigation began and ended at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Pilot Lyle Shelton, flying a modified Grumman F8F Bearcat called Rare Bear, achieves the fastest speed ever by a piston-engined aircraft. Shelton reached a speed of 528.33 miles per hour over a 10-mile course at Las Vegas, Nevada.