Greatest First Flights in Aviation History in Honor of Aviation History Month
November is National Aviation History Month, when the accomplishments and milestone achievements of men and women aviators are recognized. In honor of this celebration, Vaughn College has chronicled some of the industry’s most momentous first flights in the history of aviation. Test your knowledge to see how many you know.
1783—First Hot-Air Balloon Flight
Inspired by a paper bag rising on the flow of heated air, French brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier launched their first hot air balloon, which carried a sheep, a duck and a rooster.
1852—First Powered Flight
Jules Henri Giffard, a French engineer and inventor, built the first full-size steam-powered airship. This first powered flight took off 51 years before that of the famous Wright Brothers.
1884—First Roundtrip Flight
French Army Corps of Engineers Charles Renard and Arthur C. Krebs were the inventors and military officers who became credited with building an elongated balloon that successfully took off―flew five miles―and landed at the same location.
1903—The Wright Brothers and the First Flight
Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright pioneered the principles for the first powered airplane when they flew their Wright Flyer on a 12-second test flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
1911—First United States (US) Woman Pilot
Harriet Quimby, an early American aviator and movie screenwriter, was the first woman to be awarded a US pilot’s certificate in the United States. She was also the first woman to fly across the English Channel. As a result of these accomplishments, she is credited for influencing the role of women in aviation.
1914—World’s First Commercial Airline
Passengers aboard The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line made history on the world’s first commercial airline service between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida—in just 20 minutes.
1927—Charles Lindbergh and the First Solo Transatlantic Flight
Charles Lindbergh―American aviator, military officer, author, inventor and activist―made history as he piloted the Spirit of St. Louis down the dirt runway of Roosevelt Field in New York and landed in Paris 34 hours later, making him the first pilot to solo a nonstop trans-Atlantic flight.
1947—Breaking the Sound Barrier
Aboard the US Air Force experimental rocket Bell X-1, renowned United States Air Force officer and flying ace Chuck Yeager was the first pilot to exceed the speed of sound.
1958—First Domestic Jet Passenger Service
National Airlines is credited with the inaugural jet passenger service between New York and Miami.
1961—The First Man in Space
Aboard the Soviet Vostok 1 spacecraft, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to travel in space. His 108- minute orbit of the Earth launched the era of manned spaceflight and escalated the race between the US and the Soviet Union, which ultimately led to the first manned moon mission.
1969—Apollo 11: First Men on the Moon
US astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin were the first men to set foot on the moon, where they left behind their footprints, part of the spacecraft and an American flag.
1971—Salyut 1: The First Space Station
The Salyut 1 was the world’s first space station that helped develop methods for living and working in space over long periods of time.
1981—Space Shuttle Exploration
Exactly 20 years after Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, the space shuttle Columbia blasted into space on its first historic flight. Over the next 30 years, this space shuttle and its four sister ships carried more than 850 astronauts into space, despite the tragedies that would befall the Challenger, and in time, Columbia itself.
1993—First Woman Co-pilot on Commercial Supersonic Plane
British Airways pilot Barbara Harmer was the first woman to fly as first officer on the Concorde from London to New York City.
2005—First Non-stop Solo Flight Around the World Without Refueling
Steve Fossett―American businessman, adventurer and record-setting aviator―set the record for the first non-stop solo flight around the world without refueling. Flying aboard the Virgin Atlantic “Globalflyer,” Fossett travelled almost 23,000 miles around the world, beginning at Salina, Kansas and arriving back 67 hours later.
2017—First All-Female Flight Crew
Southwest Airlines celebrated its first all-female flight crew of two pilots and four flight attendants.
2018—First Space Mission Where US Astronauts Were Women
NASA flight engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor and NASA astronaut Anne McClain made history in Expedition 57―the first space mission where the only two astronauts representing the United States were both female.
2019—First All-Female Spacewalk
Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir floated into the history books when they became NASA’s first all-female spacewalk. Koch and Meir were the first US female astronauts to venture outside of the International Space Station.
First experiences leave lasting impressions that can pave the way to future endeavors. Are you ready to take the first step toward a career in aviation? See all that’s possible with an aviation degree from Vaughn College.