Joseph & Etienne Montgolfier: 1783 hot-air balloon;

US Civil War - balloons as observation posts.

George Cayley (British) early 1800s - model glider. 

Otto Lilienthal - pioneering German glider pilot.

1891 on, over 2000 glider flights - killed 1896. 

Hiram Maxim - 1880s British "Leviathan" steam-powered aircraft 104 foot wingspan, 3.5 tons, two 180-hp engines. "first kite of war".

Octave Chanute – US experiments gliders;

Samuel Pierpont Langley - Smithsonian sec.

1898 $60,000 US army & navy;


Washington Post: "Smithsonian staff, the stuffers of birds & rabbits.”

Dec 17, 1903 Wright Bros Kitty Hawk NC – “Wright Flyer”;

bike mechanics, Dayton, OH. 

Experiments kite, gliders;

homemade wind tunnel. 

Systematic approach to problem of control. 

Technique of warping wings, movable rudder, forward elevators.  1902 make own engine - 150 lbs, 13 horsepower.

Orville, "It is our intention to furnish machines for military use first, before entering the commercial field."

1908 Fort Myer, VA

1909, plane for army;


Glenn Curtiss - first after Wrights to build & fly.

1907 Aerial Experiment Association (AEA). 

1908 "June Bug", first official public flight over one mile.

patent fights,

exhibition companies.


French lead - 1909 Louis Bleriot across English Channel.

1909 air meet at Reims;

1910 Los Angeles – Europeans win;

1911, first long-distance air race France to London & back.


WWI - Germans 450 planes, French 600, British 160.

WWI construction push - vital raw materials (wood, steel, rubber, linen, lubrication oil).

Germans Anthony Fokker. 

1917 "Bloody April".

British Sopwith Camel. 

reconnaissance, artillery spotting, strategic bombing, supplying ground troops, air-to-air combat. German Manfred von Richthofen  "Red Baron", US ace Eddie Rickenbacker;

one month, 1917, 330 British airmen killed;

British Royal Air Force (RAF).

US $640 million for WWI building planes,

12,000 planes per year by 1918.

1914, aircraft industry worth less than a million dollars - 1919 31 companies, $14 million.

1920s, enthusiasm for aviation.

1915 Nat'l Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)

1920, lab facilities Langley Field, VA. 

"to supervise & direct the scientific study of the problems of flight, with a view to their practical solution".


1918 airmail service.

1920, NY-SF route.

1920 night flying.

dozens manufacturers - Boeing, Lockheed, McDonnell-Douglas. airlines - United, American, Pan Am & TWA.

1929, US 61 passenger lines, 47 mail lines, 32 express lines. Air mail 8 million lbs, 1929.

Commerce Dept 1920s, Herbert Hoover.