110 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. 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. Wright suffered severe injuries, including a broken left thigh, several broken ribs, and a damaged hip, and was hospitalized for seven weeks.
100 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.