Aviation History Facts: January

January 1

  • In 1914… The U.S. Weather Bureau begins daily publication of a weather map of the Northern Hemisphere designed specifically as an aid to aviation. (OTM)
  • In 1914… The world’s first scheduled airplane passenger service operated by an airline company – the Airboat Line – begins at 10:00 A.M. when Anthony Janus flies his first passenger from St. Petersburg to Tampa, Florida. The fare for 22-mile over-water flight was $5 with a surcharge if the passenger weighs more than 200 lbs. (F&F)
  • In 1934… The airline Deutsche Luft Hansa changes its name to Lufthansa. (AYY)

January 2

  • In 1918… The British government establishes an air ministry. Lord Rothermere is Secretary of State for Air. Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard is Chief of the Air Staff. (AYY)
  • In 1953… The first of an order of about 430 US Sabre fighters, the RAF’s first supersonic jet, arrives at RAF Abington, England. (AYY)
  • In 1989… Tupolev’s TU-204, the Soviet Union’s first airliner fitted with a fly-by-wire control system, makes its maiden flight. (AYY)

January 3

  • In 1905… In efforts to interest the U.S. government in the use of airplanes for the military, Wilbur Wright speaks to Congressman Robert M. Nevin, who asks him to prepare a letter for submission to the secretary of war that Nevin would deliver and endorse. The army declines the offer. (F&F)
  • In 1923… French Lieutenant Thoret makes the first soaring flight of more than 5 hours in a Hanriot HD-14 biplane as he flies with his engine stopped in a slope lift (using hill-side air currents) in Biskra, France. (OTM)
  • In 1981… Pan Am retires the Boeing 707 from its fleet. (AYY)
  • In 1999… NASA’s Mars Polar Lander is launched aboard a Boeing Delta II booster from Cape Canaveral. The MPL is scheduled to touch down in the Martian southern polar region in December. (AYY)

January 4

  • In 1952… Pan American World Airways inaugurates the first all-cargo service across the North Atlantic with its recently acquired Douglas DC-6A cargo carrier. (F&F)
  • In 1964… Pope Paul VI lands in Amman, Jordan, in a special Alitalia DC-8; it is the first time that a pope has used an airplane for an official visit. (AYY)

January 5

  • In 1959… The Fairey Rotodyne, piloted by W. P. Gellatly and J. P. Morton, sets a world speed record for convertiplanes of 190.9 mph over a 62-mile circuit. (AYY)

January 6

  • In 1928… Pilot Lt. C. F. Schilt, USMC, lands a Vought O2U-1 Corsair in the street of a Nicaraguan village to rescue wounded officers. Eighteen servicemen are rescued and, for his bravery, Lt. Schilt iss awarded the Medal of Honor. (F&F)

January 7

  • In 1785… The English Channel is crossed for the first time by air as Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries fly their hydrogen balloon from Dover, England to a forest near Calais, France. (OTM)
  • In 1973… Cameron Balloons Ltd. of Bristol, England, flies for the first time the world’s only hot-air airship (G-BAMK) from Wantage, Berkshire. (F&F)
  • In 1980… In San Francisco, a single-engined Mooney 231 sets a nonstop coast-to coast record in 8 hours 4 minutes using only 105 gallons of fuel. (AYY)
  • In 1981… A Boeing 747 of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), China’s state airline, arrives at JFK Airport, N.Y., from Beijing via Shanghai and San Francisco; this is the first scheduled flight between these two countries since 1949 and inaugurates a weekly CAAC service. (AYY)

January 8

  • In 1945… The Mitsubishi J8M1 rocket-fighter makes its first flight in Hyakurigahara, Japan. (AYY)
  • In 1982… The Airbus A300 becomes the world’s first wide-bodied airliner to be certified for operation by a flight crew of two. (AYY)

January 9

  • In 1793… Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard in Philadelphia makes the first manned free balloon ascent in America in a hydrogen balloon. (OTM)
  • In 1923… The first flight of a practical gyroplane or rotocraft is made by Juan de la Cierva’s C-3 Autogiro, which is flown by Spenser Gomes in Madrid, Spain. (OTM)

January 10

  • In 1942… The US Army announces the delivery of its first troop-transport gliders. (AYY)
  • In 1982… The Gulfstream III Spirit of America sets a round-the-world record for an executive jet of 43 hours, 39 minutes and 6 seconds in Taterboro, New Jersey (AYY)

January 11

  • In 1935… Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman pilot to fly solo between Hawaii and the United States. She takes off from Wheeler Field, Oahu, Honolulu, to fly her Lockheed Vega across the eastern Pacific to Oakland, California. Earhart lands after 18 hours 15 minutes. (F&F)
  • In 1978… The American Jet Industries’ Hustler executive transport makes its first flight. (AYY)

January 12

  • In 1866… The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain is founded in London (later to become the Royal Aeronautical Society) and is still in existence today. (OTM)
  • In 1929… First U.S. air mail stamped envelopes are available for sale. (OTM)
  • In 1970… A Pan Am Boeing 747, on a proving flight from New York, is the first wide-bodied airliner to make a landing at Heathrow Airport in London. (AYY)

January 13

  • In 1906… The first air exhibition of the Aero Club of America opens for eight days in the Sixty-ninth Regiment Armory in New York City. The Wrights are asked to send the motor that powered their 1903 flying machine but can only salvage the crankshaft and flywheel. (F&F)
  • In 1908… The first European to fly one kilometer in a circle is Henri Farman in his Voisin-Farman airplane. Farman’s 1 minute 28 second flight wins him the Grand Prix d’Aviation Deutsche-Archdeacon race in France. (OTM)
  • In 1942… The first fully practical, single rotor helicopter makes a successful flight flown by its creator, Igor Sikorsky (OTM)

January 14

  • In 1909… Wilbur Wright, his brother Orville and sister Katharine, having just arrived from America, move to Pau in the south of France after completing flying demonstrations at Camp d’Auvers. (F&F)
  • In 1935… United Air Lines decides to equip its fleet with a de-icing system for airplane wings, following successful tests on a Boeing 247 (AYY)

January 15

  • In 1914… The first regularly scheduled passenger airline in the United States begins service. The Benoist Company, flying its Benoist flying boat, runs a line between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida (OTM)
  • In 1991… The first hot-air balloon to cross the Pacific Ocean takes off from Japan and eventually lands in Canada (OTM)

January 16

  • In 1957… Five B-52Bs of the Ninety-third Bombardment Wing, commanded by Maj. Gen. Archie J. Old, Jr., commander of the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force, begin Operation Power Flite, the first nonstop round-the-world flight by turbojet aircraft. (F&F)
  • In 1975… In Operation Streak Eagle, the USAF sets new climb-time records with the McDonnell Douglas F-15A aircraft, operating from Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. The Streak Eagle reaches a height of 3,000 m (9,843 ft.) in 27.57 sec., 6,000 m (19,685 ft.) in 39.33 sec., 9,000 m (929,528 ft.) in 48.86 sec., 12,000 m (39,370 ft.) in 59.38 sec. and 15,000 m (42,2132 ft.) in 1 min. 17.02 sec (F&F)

January 17

  • In 1906… The second Zeppelin (LZ-2) built makes its first successful flight over Lake Constance, Germany, achieving a speed of 25 mph. (OTM)

January 18

  • In 1909… The first book to treat the work and accomplishments of the Wright brothers, Les Premiers Hommes-Oiseaux: Wilbur et Orville Wright, is written by François Peyrey (1873-1934) and published in France. (OTM)
  • In 1911… Eugene B. Ely makes the first landing by an aircraft on a ship when he flies his Curtiss pusher biplane from Selfridge Field near San Francisco to a specially prepared wooden deck on the stern of the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania. (F&F)

January 19

  • In 1784… The largest hot-air balloon ever made, called Le Flesselle by the Montgolfier brothers, makes an ascent at Lyons, France. The balloon’s capacity is 700,000 cubic feet and it goes up to 3,000 feet (OTM)

January 20

  • In 1913… Attempting to establish a new women’s altitude record, Bernetta Miller is covered with oil and temporarily blinded when her oil flow indicator smashes. She makes a safe emergency landing in New York. (AYY)
  • In 1932… Imperial Airways’ Handley Page H.P.42 Helena leaves Croydon, England, for Paris on the first leg of the company’s new mail service to Cape Town. (AYY)
  • In 1975… A Boeing 707, commandeered by three terrorists and flown by a crew of Air France volunteers, lands in Baghdad, Iraq. The terrorists forced the French airline to fly them out of Paris by taking ten travelers hostage yesterday, at Orly airport. (AYY)

January 21

  • In 1921… The first triple-triplane aircraft, and the first passenger-carrying aircraft designed to carry more than 100 people that actually got off the ground, is launched at Lake Maggiore, Italy. The flight attempt ends in failure when the 55,000 lb. flying boat nosedives into the lake. (F&F)
  • In 1952… The Saab 210 experimental delta-winged research aircraft makes its first flight in Sweden. (AYY)
  • In 1976… First passenger services by a supersonic airliner are begun, as British Airways and Air France Concorde supersonic transports take off simultaneously for Bahrain and Rio de Janeiro. (OTM)

January 22

  • In 1971… A US Navy P-3C Orion lands in Patuxent River, Maryland, after a flight of 15 hours 21 minutes from Atsugi, Japan, setting a nonstop distance record for a turboprop-powered aircraft of 7,010 miles. (AYY)

January 23

  • In 1909… The first flight of the French Ble´riot XI, one of the most successful monoplanes designed and built before World War I, is made. (OTM)

January 24

  • In 1932… French pilots Paul Codos and Henri Robida land in Paris after flying from Hanoi in French Indochina in a record time of 3 days 4 hours. (AYY)

January 25

  • In 1921… Committee on Law of Aviation of the American Bar Association files an initial report on the necessity of aerial legislation. (OTM)
  • In 1983… The Swedish-US Saab-Fairchild 340 transport, the first aircraft built by collaboration, makes its first flight. (AYY)

January 26

  • In 1910… The first practical seaplane is flown. Built and flown by American Glenn Curtiss, it lands and takes off in the waters off San Diego, California. (OTM)
  • In 1951… First flight of Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket supersonic research aircraft is made. It is launched from underneath its B-29 mother-ship and exceeds Mach 1 (the speed of sound) in a dive. (OTM)

January 27

  • In 1894… Captain B. F. S. Baden-Powel (the brother of the first Chief Boy Scout) makes a kite ascent from Pirbright Army Camp, England in what appears to be the first use of man-carrying kites outside China. (F&F)
  • In 2002… Boeing’s 737, the world’s most widely use twin jet, becomes the first jetliner in history to amass more than 100 million flying hours. The 737 was launched onto the market in 1965. (AYY)

January 28

  • In 1871… The last balloon to leave Paris during the Persian siege takes off with orders for the French fleet to bring food and supplies to replenish the French capital, an armistice having been signed. The flight of the General Cambronne ends a period of almost exactly 5 months during which the advantages of balloons were put to efficient use. (F&F)

January 29

  • In 1908… The Imperial All-Russia Aero Club is founded and raises money through public subscription by imperial decree. (F&F)
  • In 1920… President Woodrow Wilson appoints Orville Wright to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). (AYY)
  • In 1959… The first jet passenger service across the United States is begun by American Airlines using Boeing 707 jet airliners. (OTM)

January 30

  • In 1957… Sikorsky’s HSS-1 S-58 piston-engined helicopter, developed for anti-submarine operations, makes its first flight. (AYY)
  • In 1988… Boeing’s long-range 747 SP Friendship One returns to Seattle to set a round-the-world record of 36 hours 54 minutes 15 seconds. (AYY)

January 31

  • In 1818… The Curtiss R-6 twin-float seaplane becomes the first US-built airplane to operate overseas with American forces at Naval Base 13, Ponta Delgado, in the Azores. (F&F)
  • In 1949… Pan Am receives the first Boeing Model 377 Stratocruiser to be delivered. (AYY)

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)

From the Centennial of Flight Website