Flight's Centennial: Milestones of flight

Dec. 17, 2003 at 11:49 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The first powered, heavier-than-air flight by the Wright brothers, on Dec. 17, 1903, ushered in a century of aviation and space history. Here are some additional historic milestones that have marked the first century of flight:

-- Nov. 13, 1907: The first free flight of a helicopter, at Lisieux, France, lasting 20 seconds

-- Feb. 10, 1908: The U.S. Army signs a contract to buy the first military airplanes, from the Wright Brothers

-- Sept. 17, 1908: The first person is killed in an aircraft crash. Orville Wright, pilot of plane, is injured but recovers

-- July 25, 1909: French aviator Louis Bleriot flies across the English Channel in a small, single-engined aircraft

-- May 15, 1918: Regular U.S. Air Mail service begins using single-engine biplanes

-- Feb. 5, 1919: The world's first, regularly scheduled, air-passenger service begins between Berlin and Weimar, Germany

-- Aug. 25, 1919: Regular air-passenger service begins between between London's Hounslow and Paris's Le Bourget fields

-- Mar. 16, 1926: Robert H. Goddard completes the first successful launch of a liquid-fueled rocket, in Auburn, Mass.

-- May 21, 1927: Charles Lindbergh becomes the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, in the Spirit of St. Louis

-- June 18, 1928: Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic

-- Nov. 28, 1929: Floyd Bennett flies a Ford Trimotor carrying Adm. Richard Byrd and three companions over the South Pole

-- Dec. 1, 1935: The world's first air traffic control center is opened in Newark, N.J.

-- May 6, 1937: The airship Hindenburg explodes at Lakehurst, N.J.

-- July 2, 1937: Amelia Earhart and her airplane disappear en route from Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, in the South Pacific

-- Oct. 26, 1940: The P-51 Mustang long-range fighter completed its first test flight

-- June 20, 1941: The U.S. Army Air Force is established

-- June 13, 1944: Germany launches the first V-1 flying bomb against targets in southeastern England

-- Feb. 28, 1946: The prototype F-84 Thunderjet makes its first test flight

-- Mar. 17, 1947: Flight of first U.S. jet bomber, the B-45 Tornado

-- Apr. 4, 1947: The International Civil Aviation organization is established

-- Oct. 14, 1947: Test pilot Chuck Yeager flies faster than Mach 1, the speed of sound, in the Bell SX-1 rocket plane

-- May 18, 1953: Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to fly faster than Mach 1

-- Sept. 7, 1956: Maj. Iven Kincheloe sets an altitude record of 126,200 feet aboard the X-2 rocket plane

-- Sept. 27, 1956: The X-2 sets a world speed record of Mach 3.2, but the aircraft crashes, killing its pilot, Milburn "Mel" Apt

-- Oct. 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launches world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1

-- Feb. 1, 1958: The United States Army launches the Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite

-- Oct. 27, 1958: The Boeing 707 passenger jetliner flies its first revenue-paying flight

-- Sept. 17, 1959: The X-15 rocket plane makes its first powered flight

-- Mar. 30, 1961: Test pilot Joe Walker sets an altitude record of 169,600 feet in the X-15

-- Apr. 12, 1961: Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space

-- May 5, 1961: U.S. Navy commander Alan B. Shepard Jr., becomes the first American in space in a suborbital flight in the Freedom 7 Mercury space capsule

-- Feb. 20, 1962: Marine Lt. Col. John H. Glenn Jr., becomes the first U.S. astronaut to reach Earth orbit

-- Aug. 22, 1963: Maj. Joe Walker sets an altitude record of 354,200 feet aboard the X-15. The record still stands

-- Dec. 22, 1964: The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird makes its first test flight. The aircraft eventually will fly faster than 2,000 mph, a record that still stands

-- Dec. 21-27, 1968: The Apollo 8 spacecraft completes the first circumnavigation of the moon

-- Mar. 2, 1969: The French/Anglo supersonic Concorde airliner makes its maiden flight in France

-- July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin make the first manned landing on the moon

-- February 1977: The U.S. airline industry is deregulated

-- Dec. 19, 1978: The British aircraft Solar 1 becomes the first airplane to fly using solar power

-- Apr. 12, 1981: The space shuttle Columbia makes the first winged flight into orbit and completes the first runway landing of a spacecraft

-- Sept. 30, 1982: The first circumnavigation of the globe performed by a helicopter

-- Jan. 28, 1986: The space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after liftoff, killing seven astronauts

-- Dec. 23, 1986: The two-person Voyager aircraft completes the first round-the-world flight nonstop and unrefueled

-- July 25, 2000: A Concorde, once called the safest plane ever built, crashes near Paris

-- Apr. 12, 2001: Dennis Tito becomes the first space tourist, buying a private flight aboard a Russian Soyuz craft

-- Sept. 11, 2001: Three commercial aircraft are used as terror weapons in attacks on New York City's World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. A fourth airliner apparently commanded by terrorists crashes in a field in southwestern Pennsylvania

-- Feb. 1, 2003: Space shuttle Columbia breaks apart over Texas as it attempts to re-enter Earth's atmosphere

-- Nov. 26, 2003: The last flight of the Concorde, from London's Heathrow airport to the Bristol Aviation Heritage Center at Filton, England

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