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11 Aviation 'First Flights'

113 years ago today, Orville and Wilbur Wright paved the way for powered flight. Here are 11 aviation firsts, including theirs, made by the pioneers of aviation...

First Powered Flight - December 17, 1903

The Wright Brothers made the first successful powered flight near Kill Devil Hills, NC. The Wright Flyer, piloted by Orville Wright, flew for 12 seconds over a distance of 120 feet.


First Multi-Engine Flight - May 19, 1913

The world's first multi-engine airplane was designed by the famous Igor Sikorsky. Most people thought the Sikarsky Russky Vityaz would never fly, because it had a wingspan of almost 90 feet. And when it's first aerial test was a success, many considered it to be a hoax.

First Airliner Flight - December 10, 1913

Sikorsky quickly followed up his feat with the world's first airliner, the Ilya Muromets. The aircraft featured a saloon, wicker chairs, a bedroom, a lounge, and a toilet. Unfortunately, it was never used for commercial service, due to the outbreak of WWI. Instead, it was used as a bomber.

First Pressurized Aircraft Flight - June 8, 1921

Harold Harris became the first pilot to fly a pressurized aircraft, a highly modified Airco USD-9A, with an experimental pressurized cockpit.

First To Bail Out Of A Damaged Aircraft - October 20, 1922

Harold Harris set another record just over a year later. The Loening monoplane he was flying started to experience aileron flutter, which pulled the controls from his hands. Knowing the plane was going to crash, he jumped out and pulled his chute, safely landing in a back yard. He was awarded the first membership to the Caterpillar Club, a club for aviators who successfully bail out of stricken airplanes.

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First Supersonic Flight - October 14, 1947

Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound in the Bell X-1. His rocket powered plane was dropped from the bomb bay of a B-29, and reached a speed of Mach 1.06.

First Jet Power Airliner - April 6, 1948

The Vickers Viking was originally a turboprop aircraft, but it was fitted with Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engines in 1948, making it the first entirely jet-powered airliner.

First Manned Space Flight - April 12, 1961

Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, making one orbit around earth on the Vostok 1 aircraft.

First Widebody Airliner Flight - February 9, 1969

The Boeing 747, known as the 'Queen of the Skies', was the first two-aisle airliner to take flight.

First Nonstop Flight Around The World - December 23, 1986

Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager became the first pilots to fly around the world nonstop, and without refueling. They accomplished the feat in the Rutan Model 76 Voyager. The flight lasted 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds.

First Manned Private Spaceflight - June 21, 2004

The X Prize winning SpaceShipOne became the first manned private spaceflight, paving the way for commercial space flight and space tourism.

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Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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