Aviation History Facts: August

From the Centennial of Flight

August 1

  • In 1907… The Aeronautical Division of the US Army Signal Corps is created. Their goal is, “to study the flying machine and the possibility of adapting it to military purposes.” (AYY)
  • In 1916… The first issue of America’s most influential and long-running aircraft magazine appears at a price of 5 cents. Called Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering, it is ancestor of Aviation Week & Space Technology and is published twice a month. (F&F)
  • In 1929… Dr. Hugo Eckener commands the first airship flight to circumnavigate the globe when the flight leaves Friedrichshafen, Germany. Graf Zeppelin arrives back at Friedrichshafen on September 4, having logged 21,000 mi. in 12 days, 12 hours, 20 minutes flying time. (F&F)
  • In 1946… British European Airways (BEA) is established under the Civil Aviation Act of 1946, which makes the entire British air transport industry nationalized. (OTM)

August 2

  • In 1909… The first flying machine purchased and put into service by a government is the Wright Flyer. The US Army accepts its first airplane and pays the Wrights $25,000, plus a $5,000 bonus, because the machine exceeded the speed requirement of 40 mph. (OTM)
  • In 1911… The first woman in the United States licensed as a qualified pilot is Harriet Quimby, a drama critic. (OTM)
  • In 1917… Squadron leader E. H. Dunning of the British Royal Naval Air Service becomes the first pilot to land an airplane on the deck of a moving ship when he puts a Sopwith Pup down on HMS Furious. (F&F)

August 3

  • In 1861… John La Mountain becomes the first balloonist to use boats for aerial operations in a military conflict. Using the Union tug Fanny, he ascends from its deck to a height of 2,000 ft. to conduct aerial reconnaissance of Confederate forces during America’s Civil War. (F&F)
  • In 1904… In a dirigible named California Arrow, Thomas Scott Baldwin carries out the first circular flight by an airship in America. Powered by a converted motorcycle engine, it is built and dispatched by Glenn Curtiss. (F&F)
  • In 1921… Lieutenant John A. Macready of the U.S. Army Air Corps finds a new use for airplanes when he sprays a patch of ground infested with caterpillars. This practice becomes known as crop dusting. (AYY)
  • In 1955… President Eisenhower signs the Civilian Airport Modernization Bill. The legislation establishes a long-term program of federal government aid toward the construction of airports in the United States. (AYY)

August 4

  • In 1807… Andre-Jacques Garnerin in Paris, France makes the first night ascent in a balloon. (OTM)
  • In 1901… Octave Chanute arrives at the Wright brothers’ camp at Kill Devil Hill and photographs their flight tests with the 1901 glider. (F&F)
  • In 1908… Wilbur Wright makes the first flight using stick controls near Le Mans, France. The flight lasts 1 minute and 45 seconds. (OTM)
  • In 1908… Count von Zeppelin takes the LZ4 on a 24-hour flight from Lake Constance, down the Rhine to Basel, then to Strasbourg and Mainz and back to Stuttgart, a total non-stop distance of 435 miles. (F&F)
  • In 1959… The first medical evacuation by helicopter from a Mobil Army Surgery Hospital (MASH) team takes place when an S-51 flies out a casualty from a fire flight along the Pusan Perimeter. (F&F)

August 5

  • In 1917… The first Aero Squadron of the Signal Corps leaves the United States for Europe under the command of Maj. Ralph Royce. (F&F)
  • In 1918… The first American night patrol of the war takes place when a Felixstowe F.2A flying boat crewed by Ens. Ashton W. Hawkins and Lt. George F. Lawrence take off on patrol from RAF Killinghome, England. (F&F)
  • In 1933… French Air Force pilots Lts. Paul Codes and Maurice Rossi begin a record-breaking straight-line distance flight (5,657 mi.) between New York and Rayak, Syria in their Blériot 110 monoplane. (F&F)

August 6

  • In 1910… An International aviation meeting opens at Lanark, Scotland, drawing a wide range of flyers and airplanes. In all, 22 competitors participate. (F&F)
  • In 1969… The biggest helicopter ever built, the Soviet Mil V-12 secures an unbeaten world lifting record for rotary-winged aircraft by carrying 40,205.5 kg (88,636 lb.) to a height of 2,255 m (7,400 ft.). (F&F)

August 7

  • In 1917… The Morane-Saulnier A. I. Parasol fighter airplane makes its first flight in France. (AYY)
  • In 1919… Capt. Ernest C. Hoy becomes the first pilot to fly over the Canadian Rockies when he carries mail from Vancouver, British Columbia to Calgary, Alberta in a Curtiss JN-4 biplane. (F&F)
  • In 1928… One of the most successful designs of the day, the first Curtiss Model 50 Robin, takes to the air. A typical Robin has a wingspan of 41 ft. and a length of 25 ft., 8 in. with a 185-hp engine. (F&F)
  • In 1931… Jim Mollison lands after flying from Australia to England in 10 days, knocking two days off the existing record. (AYY)

August 8

  • In 1908… Wilbur Wright makes his first flight in Europe by flying the Wright Flyer A from the racetrack at Hunaudières, 5 miles south of Le Mans, France. (F&F)
  • In 1910… The first aircraft tricycle landing gear is installed on the US Army’s Wright airplane. (AYY)
  • In 1929… The Zeppelin LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin makes the first flight around the world by an airship. Captained by Hugo Eckener, the airship makes its 21,500-mile circumnavigation in 21 days and 7 hours. (OTM)

August 9

  • In 1884… Built by Frenchmen Charles Renard and Arthur Krebs, the airship La France is powered by a 9 hp electric motor driving one large propeller. It makes a fully-controlled circular flight while traveling about 5 miles at 14 mph. (OTM)
  • In 1896… Otto Lilienthal crashes in his No.11 glider while flying from the Rhinower Hill range and dies the next day. He made approximately 2,500 flights in his various gliders. (F&F)
  • In 1956… The Fiat G.91, produced for NATO as a light strike-fighter, makes its first flight. (AYY)

August 10

  • In 1840… American Louis Lauriat, whose balloon flies at 21 mph in New Brunswick, makes the first manned balloon flight in Canada. (OTM)
  • In 1910… Claude Grahame-White attempts to fly the first airmail in the world to be carried on a powered airplane when he takes off from Squires Gate near Blackpool, England heading for Southport. The attempt in his little Blériot monoplane fails and he is forced to land. (F&F)
  • In 1912… Englishman Francis K. McClean becomes the first pilot to fly under bridges spanning the Thames River when he takes off from Harty Ferry, Eastchurch in his Short biplane S. 33. (F&F)

August 11

  • In 1906… Mrs. C. J. S. Miller becomes the first woman passenger in an airship. The 40-hp craft is owned and operated by her husband, Major Miller. (AYY)
  • In 1915… The U.S. Naval Observatory asks Eastman Kodak to develop a special aerial reconnaissance camera that could be used from an airplane flying at heights of 3,000 ft. to 6,000 ft. (F&F)
  • In 1952… British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) inaugurates its new weekly service between London and Colombo, the capital of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). (F&F)

August 12

  • In 1888… The first gas-powered aircraft flies. Built by the German experimenter, Wolfert, the powered airship (dirigible) fitted with a 2 hp Daimler benzene engine running two propellers, flies for 2 ½ miles from Seelberg to Kornwestheim, Germany. (OTM)
  • In 1908… Controlled by Thomas Baldwin and Glenn Curtiss, the Signal Corps’ Dirigible Balloon No.1, known as SC-I, the first Army dirigible, begins flight trials at Fort Meyer near Washington, D.C. (F&F)
  • In 1946… President Harry Truman signs a bill authorizing an appropriation of $50,000 to establish a National Air Museum in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. The small museum eventually becomes the National Air and Space Museum – the most visited museum in the world. (OTM)

August 13

  • In 1824… The first aerial ascent by a Native American as a passenger, Chief Waschisabe, in Dupuis-Delcourt’s balloon “flotilla” takes place at Montjean, France. (F&F)
  • In 1914… The first British airplane to reach French soil after mobilization is a BE2a, serial number 327, flown by Capt. F. F. Waldron and Air Mechanic Skerritt of No. 2 Sqdr. RFC commanded by Maj. C. J. Burke. (F&F)
  • In 1976… The Bell Model 222, the first twin-engined light commercial helicopter, developed in the United States, makes its first flight, powered by the 650 SHP Avco Lycoming LTS 101-650C. (F&F)

August 14

  • In 1909… The first woman passenger to fly in a powered airplane in Great Britain is the wife of Samuel F. Cody. She is taken for a 3-minute flight from the Royal Engineers Balloon Factory at Farnborough in Cody’s British Army Aeroplane No.1. (F&F)
  • In 1931… Piloted by M. M. Gromov, the Tupolev ANT-14 large passenger aircraft makes its first flight. The largest landplane of its day, it could carry 36 passengers. (F&F)
  • In 1953… The sound barrier is broken over Australia for the first time by Flight Lieutenant Bentleigh, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), in the first Australian-built Sabre fighter at Avalon, Victoria. (AYY)

August 15

  • In 1951… Test pilot Bill Bridgeman reaches a record altitude of 79, 494 ft. in the #2 Douglas D-558-II rocket research aircraft, although this does not qualify for FAI (Federal Aeronautique Internationale) recognition. (F&F)
  • In 1951… Powered by a Roll Royce Dart, a DC-3 of British European Airways becomes the first turboprop aircraft operated on a freight run. (F&F)
  • In 1958… Congress approves a bill creating the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to regulate all US commercial and military aviation. (AYY)

August 16

  • In 1942… The 82nd Airborne (All American) paratroop division is formed. (AYY)
  • In 1952… The prototype Bristol Type 175 Britannia (G-ALBO) makes its first flight from Filton, Bristol, England. (F&F)
  • In 1960… Captain Joe Kittinger jumps from a gondola, suspended from a balloon, 102,800 feet to the ground using a parachute. He breaks the records for greatest altitude from which a parachute descent had been made and the longest delayed parachute jump. (AYY)

August 17

  • In 1910… The first English Channel crossing by an airplane with a passenger is made by John Moisant who takes his mechanic in his two-seater Blériot on the flight from Calais, France to Dover, England. (OTM)
  • In 1946… The first person to be ejected from an airplane by means of its emergency escape equipment is Sergeant Lambert at Wright Field in Ohio. (OTM)
  • In 1978… The U.S. balloon, Double Eagle II, becomes the first balloon to cross the Atlantic. The trip begins in Maine and ends almost 6 days later in France. (AYY)

August 18

  • In 1871… Alphonse Pénaud achieves the first flight of an inherently stable airplane when his Planophore is flown 131 feet in 11 seconds before the Société de Navigation Aérienne in the Tuileries Gardens, Paris. (F&F)
  • In 1901… At the invitation of Chanute, Wilbur Wright addresses the Western Society of Engineers in Chicago with a 10,000-word paper titled “Some Aeronautical Experiments.” (F&F)
  • In 1911… The British F.E.2 biplane makes its first flight from Farnborough, England piloted by its designer, Geoffrey de Havilland. (F&F)
  • In 1930… Captain Wolfgang von Gronau and crew make the first east to west crossing of the Atlantic from Germany to New York. (OTM)
  • In 1932… J.A. Mollison makes the first solo flight east to west across the Atlantic by a light airplane. He flies from Ireland to Canada. (OTM)

August 19

  • In 1871… Orville Wright is born in Dayton, Ohio. He is co-inventor, with his brother Wilbur, of the first airplane to achieve powered, sustained, and controlled flight and the first fully practical powered airplane. Orville piloted the famous first flight at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina after winning a coin flip against his brother. (OTM)
  • In 1911… British naval officer Comdr. Charles R. Samson sets a new British endurance record of 4 hours, 58 minutes, 30 seconds. The Short S.38 biplane has special tanks allowing sufficient fuel for more than 4 hours flying. (F&F)
  • In 1919… A Curtiss 18-T flown by Curtiss test pilot Roland Rholfs establishes a new world speed record of 163 mph carrying a load of 1,076 lbs. (F&F)
  • In 1929… The first metal airship built for the U.S. Navy makes its first flight. The ZMC-2 is a 22,600 cu. ft. helium balloon supported by transverse metal frames and longitudinal stiffeners with a thin metal covering forming the outer skin. (F&F)

August 20

  • In 1901… The Wright brothers leave Kitty Hawk, N.C., at the end of their second season of testing gliders and return to Dayton, Ohio. (F&F)
  • In 1908… The Wright Flyer built for flight trials before the U.S. Army arrives at Fort Meyer, near Washington, D.C., eight days ahead of schedule. Before trials begin, tests to check transportability, another stipulation, start. (F&F)
  • In 1910… The first U.S. Army experiments with firing a rifle from an airplane takes place when Lt. Jacob Earl Fickel conducts firing trials from a Curtiss biplane piloted by Curtiss himself. (F&F)
  • In 1913… French aviator Adolphe Pégoud carries out the first parachute descent ever made whereby the parachute is deployed before the pilot leaves the airplane. (F&F)
  • In 1919… The first regularly scheduled passenger service by airship begins in Berlin with a Zeppelin LX 120 Bodenese. (OTM)

August 21

  • In 1908… Wilbur Wright begins flying demonstrations of his Flyer A from the artillery ground known as Camp d’Auvers, 7 miles east of Le Mans, France, having moved from the Hunaudières race course. (F&F)
  • In 1908… The first turn in the air performed by a monoplane is carried out by Antoinnette II, first flown at Issy-les-Moulineaux on July 22,1908. It lasts 1 minute, 36 seconds. (F&F)
  • In 1923… The first use of electric beacons mounted on the ground to provide sight direction for night flying is made in the United States. (OTM)

August 22

  • In 1909… The first great aviation meeting in Bétheny, France, opens as 23 European airplanes make 87 flights during one week. The meeting will have a strong influence on the technical and military aspects of flight. (OTM)
  • In 1922… The Vickers Victoria (serial no. J6869) military transport makes its first flight, taking off from Brooklands, England with Stan Cockerell at the controls. (F&F)
  • In 1938… The Civil Aeronautics Act becomes effective in the United States, coordinating all non-military aviation under the Civil Aeronautics Authority. (OTM)

August 23

  • In 1878… The British government uses its first military aviation budget (£150) to build and fly their first balloon, the Pioneer. (AYY)
  • In 1913… Léon Letort carries out the first non-stop flight between Paris and Berlin when he flies his Morane-Saulnier monoplane fitted with an 80-hp Le Rhône engine the 560 miles between the two capitals in 8 hours. (F&F)
  • In 1923… The I-1 (Il-400), the first independent design from Nikolai Nikolayevich Polikarpov, makes its first flight. Polikarpov has worked at the RBVZ [Russko-Baltijskij Vagonnyj Zavod (Russo-Baltic Cart Works)] on the Ilya Muromets and later becomes chief engineer at the GAZ-1 plant. (F&F)
  • In 1938… The American racing and record-breaking pilot Frank Hawks is killed along with his mechanic when his Gwinn Aircraft Aircar becomes entangled in telephone lines shortly after taking off from East Aurora, New York. (F&F)

August 24

  • In 1921… In the worst airship disaster thus far, 44 people die when the British dirigible R.38 is destroyed during routine operations off the coast of Yorkshire, England, by fire started by electrical sparks that engulfed the airship. (F&F)
  • In 1956… A U.S. Army helicopter becomes the first rotary-winged aircraft to fly non-stop across the United States. (AYY)
  • In 1961… Beginning this day through October 12, U.S. aviatrix Jacqueline Cochrane flying a Northrop T-38A Talon sets a wide range of records for women (altitude of 56,071 ft., a distance of 1,492 mi., a 100-km (62.14 mi.) closed circuit speed record of 784.337 mph and 15-km (9.32 mi.) course speed of 844.2 mph). (F&F)
  • In 1970… Two USAF Sikorsky HH-53C helicopters complete a non-stop trans-Pacific crossing from Eglin AFB, Florida to Da Nang, South Vietnam, aided by refueling encounters with Lockheed C-130 tankers (F&F)

August 25

  • In 1784… The son of a Scottish minister, James Tytler, makes the first manned balloon hop in England when his hot-air device makes a brief uncontrolled ascent with Tytler in the basket to an altitude of a few hundred feet. (F&F)
  • In 1919… The first daily commercial scheduled international air passenger service starts between London and Paris. A single fare to Paris is 21 pounds. (OTM)
  • In 1932… The first woman to fly non-stop across the United States is Amelia Earhart. She flies in a Lockheed Vega. (OTM)

August 26

  • In 1925… In a record that would stand until Feb. 24, 1983, Farman Parker of Anderson, Indiana becomes the world’s youngest pilot to fly solo. Born on January 9, 1912, he flies at the age of 13 years, 7 months, 17 days. (F&F)
  • In 1929… The first flight of the largest trimotor transport aircraft built by Fokker, the F.IX, takes to the air on its first flight. The prototype (PH-AGA) was handed over to KLM on May 8, 1930, and given the name Adelaar (Eagle). (F&F)
  • In 1959… French flyer Jacqueline Auriol, piloting the Mirage III, becomes the first woman to attain the speed of Mach 2. (AYY)
  • In 1959… President Eisenhower replaces his airplane with a jet, a USAF VC-137A, which is a modified Boeing 707 jet-airliner. The switch allows the President to cut his travel time in half. (AYY)

August 27

  • In 1783… Jacques Alexandre César Charles flies the first balloon filled with gas rather than fire-heated air using hydrogen produced by pouring 489 lbs. of sulfuric acid on 1,000 lbs. of iron. The balloon has a diameter of 12 ft. (F&F)
  • In 1910… Radio is first used to send messages between the ground and an airplane when James McCurdy both sends and receives messages from a Curtiss biplane at Sheepshead, New York, using an H.M. Horton wireless set. (OTM)
  • In 1913… Lieutenant Petr Nesterov of the Russian Army in Kiev performs the first loop-the-loop. The complete circle and other intentional acrobatic stunts prove to be valuable experience for the wartime maneuvers needed during aerial battles. (OTM)
  • In 1939… The first fully jet-propelled aircraft to fly is Germany’s Heinkel 178. A centrifugal flow turbojet engine powers it. (OTM)

August 28

  • In 1908… The US Army accepts its first dirigible. It is 96 feet long, with a 20-hp Curtiss engine. (AYY)
  • In 1919… The International Air Traffic Association (IATA) is formed at The Hague, Holland. (OTM)
  • In 1957… A record altitude for manned aircraft is achieved by the RAF Canberra serial no. WK 163 piloted by chief test pilot M. Randrup. He flies the aircraft to 70,310 ft. with the aid of a Double Scorpion rocket motor. (F&F)

August 29

  • In 1879… In Ontario, Nellie Thurston becomes the first Canadian woman to fly in a balloon. (OTM)
  • In 1909… At the end of a two-day flight from Lake Constance during which Count von Zeppelin travels a total distance of more than 400 miles, he makes a spectacular flight in his dirigible LZ5 over the city of Berlin, Germany. (F&F)
  • In 1911… Mrs. A. Hewlett is the first British woman to gain a pilot’s license. (AYY)
  • In 1955… W.F. Gibb flies on Olympus-engined Canberra B.2 to a world record altitude of 65,889 ft. (AYY)

August 30

  • In 1913… American inventor Lawrence B. Sperry successfully demonstrates the first gyroscopic automatic stabilizing device for powered airplanes when Lt. Patrick N. L. Bellinger pilots a U.S. Navy flying boat designated C-2 and relinquishes full control to the autopilot. (F&F)
  • In 1933… Air France, France’s national airline, is formed. (OTM)

August 31

  • In 1921… The first production Vickers Vernon, the first troop carrier designed for the British RAF (Royal Air Force), is delivered by the British manufacturer. (F&F)
  • In 1956… The first Boeing KC-135A (serial no. 55-3118) makes its first flight and is taken over by the USAF on January 31, 1957. (F&F)
  • In 1977… Soviet test pilot Alexander Fedotov claims a new world height record for manned aircraft when he climbs to a height of 37,650 m (123,523 ft.) flying the Mikoyan E-266M. (F&F)

Works Cited

Editor-in-Chief: Bill Gunston, Aviation: Year by Year, Amber Books Limited, London, UK, 2001. (AYY)
Leonard C. Bruno, On the Move: A Chronology of Advances in Transportation, Gale Research Inc., Detroit, MI, 1993. (OTM)
Arthur George Renstrom, Wilbur & Orville Wright: A Chronology, United States, Library of Congress, 1971 (COFC)