Flight, in its earliest form, was introduced in 1000 BCE when the first kite was flown in China. The first untethered manned flight took place in November 1783 via a Parisian hot air balloon not long before the Wright Brothers set out to complete the first ever powered, sustained, and controlled flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The flight that sealed their fates as the fathers of modern flight took place in a machine heavier than air. It wasn’t long before the first trans-Atlantic flight hit the air in 1927, sparking a wave of progressions and advancements, changing the aviation landscape in historic ways.
Within three years of that fateful flight the modern jet engine was created by Frank Whittle, followed by the first ever jet-propelled aircraft just nine years later. Aviation technology only grew from there, reaching new heights both literally and figuratively. When modern travelers board transatlantic flights with the ease of a smartphone scan, their travels can be traced back to 1903. Those accomplishments were officially commemorated by presidential proclamation when Franklin Delano Roosevelt marked Orville Wright’s birthday, August 17th, National Aviation Day.
In 1914, the first automatic gyrostabilizer came onto the scene, leading the way for the first automatic pilot. Four years of dramatic improvement brought aviation the first all-metal airplane, the Junkers J4, in 1917. These advancements flourished beyond the word of travel and aviation technology, as it grew to support the inaugural Airmail service in 1918. From the first piece of international mail, to the advancement of personal travel, it has been estimated today that an average of 100,000 flights take-off on any given day.
Only 11 years after the Wright Brothers’ 1903 flight, the first ever airliner lifted off the ground. These airliners transported people and cargo across borders, opening up opportunities for international relations, economics, and politics. Modern airliners followed in suit, servicing traveling citizens, military equipment, corporate travel and beyond.
Amidst all of the advancements in the world of aviation, possibly the greatest of all is the ability to connect people across the globe, sharing culture and tradition to all of humankind.