Anniversaries of Milestones in Military Aviation

1908 Group with Flyer110 Years ago:  First military air craft.  Six years after the Wright Brother made their first flight in Kitty Hawk, NC on December 17, 1903, the Army  Signal Corps purchased the Wright Brother’s Model A on March 2, 1909.  The course of the first flight was from Ft Myer (adjacent to Arlington National Cemetary) to what is now the George Washington Masonic Temple in Alexandria, Virginia.  These test flights also incurred the first military casualty when Lt Thomas Selfridge died in a plane crash on Ft. Myer on September 17, 1908 (where pilot, Orville Wright was severely injured.)  From Wikipedia:

The Flyer circled Fort Myer 4½ times at a height of 150 feet. Halfway through the fifth circuit, at 5:14 in the afternoon, the right-hand propeller broke, losing thrust. This set up a vibration, causing the split propeller to hit a guide wire bracing the rear vertical rudder. The wire tore out of its fastening and shattered the propeller; the rudder swiveled to the horizontal and sent the Flyer into a nose-dive. Wright shut off the engine and managed to glide to about 75 feet, but the craft hit the ground nose first.[10] Both men were thrown forward against the remaining wires and Selfridge struck one of the wooden uprights of the framework, fracturing the base of his skull. He underwent neurosurgery but died three hours later without regaining consciousness.[2] Wright suffered severe injuries, including a broken left thigh, several broken ribs, and a damaged hip, and was hospitalized for seven weeks.

Curtiss_NC-4_four_engine_configuration-detail100 Years ago:  First  Transatlantic Flight. From an email that George Francois sent to the Military Libraries Division on July 9, 2019:

“In May 1919, a crew of U.S. Navy aviators flew the NC-4 Naval seaplane from New York State to Lisbon, Portugal, over the course of 19 days. This included time for stops for repairs and crewmen’s rest in Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and twice in the Azores Islands. Its flight from the Azores to Lisbon completed the first Trans-Atlantic flight between North America and Europe. The NC-4’s largely forgotten achievement occurred just over fifteen years after the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and eight years before Charles Lindbergh’s famous solo flight across the Atlantic, in 1927.”

50 Years Ago:  First moon landing. “On July 16, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a journey to the Moon and into history. Four days later, while Collins orbited the Moon in the command module, Armstrong and Aldrin landed Apollo 11’s lunar module, Eagle, on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility, becoming the first humans to set foot on the lunar surface.”  Neil  Armstrong was a test pilot and naval aviator. Buzz Aldrin was an Air Force officer and “served as a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. He flew 66 combat missions and shot down two MiG-15 aircraft.” Michael Collins was a pilot and retired Major General in the Air Force Reserves.



17 thoughts on “Anniversaries of Milestones in Military Aviation”

  1. I started reading “Enduring Courage” by John F. Ross about Eddie Rickenbacker. On the very first page it describes him battling for his life in “these aircraft little more than controllable box kites” only 15 years after Kitty Hawk.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Scary times. Like the pilots’ verse of the Navy hymn says, “Lord, guard and guide the ones who fly through the great spaces of the sky. Be with them always in the air through dark’ning storms or sunshine fair.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very possible, GP. The original verse was
    Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm does bind the restless wave,
    Who bids the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep;
    O hear us when we cry to Thee
    For those in peril on the sea.
    It’s still one of my favorite hymns.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fear must never have entered the heads of those pioneer aviators.

    And yes, I clearly remember watching that moon landing in the early hours of the morning in the UK – very fuzzy pictures and very surreal.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.