Early Aviation History Timeline:
1799- Englishman George Cayley sets forth the concept of the modern airplane with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control.
1853- Cayley builds a glider capable of carrying a human, although it never flies with a pilot.
1883- John J. Montgomery made the first human-crewed glider flight in the United States near San Diego.
1890- Clément Ader attempts the first heavier-than-air powered aircraft flight in France. The steam-powered Ader Avion lifts briefly but is uncontrolled.
1891- German Otto Lilienthal begins the first rigorous scientific study of flight and makes over 2,000 successful glider flights.
1896- Samuel Langley successfully flies unmanned steam-powered models of his Aerodrome aircraft.
1903- The Wright Brothers made the first powered, sustained, controlled airplane flights near Kitty Hawk, NC.
1909- Frenchman Louis Bleriot makes the first flight across the English Channel.
1911- The first use of aircraft in war occurs during the Italo-Turkish War.
1914- The first scheduled commercial airline service starts between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida.
1914-1918- Airplanes are used extensively for reconnaissance and bombing during World War I. Dogfighting between fighters emerges.
1919- The first transatlantic flight occurs when British pilots Alcock and Brown fly a Vickers Vimy bomber from Newfoundland to Ireland.
1923- The first nonstop transcontinental flight across the U.S. is made by Army pilots Kelly and Macready.
1927- Charles Lindbergh completes the first solo transatlantic flight from New York to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis.
1929- The first flight with passengers on a commercial transatlantic passenger service occurs.
1931- The first aerial refueling between two planes is achieved.
1933- Wiley Post completes the first solo flight around the world.
1937- Amelia Earhart disappears over the Pacific Ocean during an attempted around-the-world flight.
1939- The first jet aircraft, the Heinkel He 178, flies for the first time.
1939-1945- Massive fleets of bombers and fighters clash for air superiority during World War II.
Powered flight rapidly advanced from uncertain hops to globe-circling journeys in mere decades. This timeline shows just some of aviation’s bold milestones on its ascent to reshape modern life.