Aviation has made great strides in its relatively short history. In this article, investor and pilot Daniel Calugar shares some of the important historical flights and technological advancements in aviation spanning from 1903 to today.
On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers completed the first powered flight in history that was not a balloon or glider. Orville and Wilbur Wright of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, launched the first flight for a total of 12 seconds off the ground. This was a culmination of over four years of research and design efforts.
In 1908 passenger Leon Delagrange flew alongside Henri Farman from a field in Paris. This was the first-ever flight with a passenger in recorded history. Later that year, Charles Furnas was the first American passenger and flew with pilot Orville Wright.
First Scheduled Air Service
On January 1, 1914, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Air Boat Line opened its doors. The airline service operated two flights a day for a seaplane route that allowed one passenger at a time between destinations.
World War I
Aviation became in-demand during World War I. During this time, planes increased in size and speed as new motors allowed the aircraft to reach speeds up to 130 miles per hour.
Introduction of Airmail
On May 14, 1918, the first flight dedicated to serving the U.S. Postal Service took off from Belmont Park, Long Island. By utilizing the war-surplus of aircraft, the postal service introduced transcontinental air service for mail deliveries. The service reduced delivery time between coasts by 22 hours.
First Transatlantic Flight
On May 20, 1927, Charles Lindbergh accomplished the first transatlantic flight in history, departing from New York and arriving in Paris. This flight encouraged investors to pour funds into aviation technology and fueled the expansion of the industry overnight.
The first jet engine was designed by a British pilot, Frank Whittle, in 1930. Using Isaac Newton's theory, scientists developed and tested an engine that used a rearward-channeled explosion to propel the plane forward. The first aircraft to test the theory was launched in 1939.
Another technological advancement introduced was the idea of pressurized cabins in 1940. Before this discovery, planes could not fly above 10,000 feet, or passengers would suffer from dizziness and fainting from the lack of oxygen available.
British scientists contributed to the development of the industry by welcoming the science of radar in 1940. Their research sought to introduce a device that could deliver early warning signals of approaching enemy aircraft during the war. The U.S. further developed the technology by introducing transponders on their plane to help identify allies and enemies in the sky.
In 1969, the Boeing 747 was introduced to the world. The plane was the first wide-body plane that had two aisles, an upper deck located over the front-body section, and four engines. Twice the size of any aircraft built to date, the 747 could hold up to 450 passengers.