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Honoring Past & Present

This is only a few of the many great firsts in aerospace:

Wilbur and Orville Wright First to achieve successful powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine, 1903 


Charlie Taylor  World's first airplane mechanic


Benjamin Foulois  First United States military aviator


Alberto Santos-Dumont First to fly a heavier-than-air machine in Europe, 1906


Thomas Selfridge  First military officer to pilot an airplane, 1908;
First fatality in powered aviation, 1908


Louis Blériot  First to pilot a plane across the English Channel, 1909


Walter R. Brookins  First civilian pilot, 1910 


Eugene Ely  First aviator to take off from and land on a ship, 1910 & 1911


Theodore Ellyson  First United States naval aviator, 1911 


Cal Rodgers  First United States transcontinental flight, 1911 


Harriet Quimby First licensed woman pilot in the US , 1911; First woman to solo the English Channel, 1912


Grover Loening  First civilian aeronautical engineer in US Army, 1914


Alford Williams  Navy's first chief test pilot; father of dive bombing 


Edward Rickenbacker  America 's top World War I ace


Albert Read,
James Breese,
Herbert Rodd,
Elmer Stone,
Walter Hinton,
Eugene Rhoads  First transatlantic flight, 1919 


William Mitchell  First to successfully demonstrate the capabilities of air power, 1921 


Lowell Smith,

Leslie Arnold,
Leigh Wade,
Henry Ogden,
Erik Nelson,
John Harding, Jr.  First around-the-world flight, 1924


Richard Byrd  First to fly over the North Pole, 1926; First to fly over the South Pole, 1929


Charles Lindbergh First non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris , 1927


Jimmy Doolittle First to make an all-blind instrument flight from take-off to landing, 1929; Albert Hegenberger Developer of all-blind flight control system; Lawrence Sperry  Inventor of the autopilot, turn and bank indicator, and parachute pack


Amelia Earhart  First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, 1932; First pilot to fly solo Hawaii to California , 1935


Wiley Post  First to fly solo around the world, 1933 


Blanche Noyes,
Louise Thaden  First women to win Bendix Trophy, 1936 


Henry T. Merrill First pilot to make a commercial round-trip plane flight over the Atlantic , 1937


Igor Sikorsky  First to design, produce and fly a helicopter in the western hemisphere, 1940 


Robert M. Stanley,
Lawrence C. Craigie  First Americans to pilot jet aircraft, 1942


Charles E. Yeager  First person to pilot an aircraft at supersonic speed, 1947 


Jacqueline Cochran  First woman to pilot an aircraft supersonically, 1953 


Albert Scott Crossfield First to fly three times the speed of sound, 1960 


Yuri Gagarin  First person in space, 1961 


Alan Shepard  First American in space, 1961; Fifth man to walk on the moon, 1971 


John Glenn  First American to orbit the earth, 1962 


Robert White  First astronaut designee in a winged aircraft, 1962 


Neil Armstrong,
Edwin Aldrin,
Michael Collins  First lunar landing aboard Apollo 11, 1969 


Bruce McCandless  First man to walk in space untethered, 1984 


Joe Kittinger  First to solo the Atlantic in a helium balloon, 1984


John Paul Stapp, M.D.  Pioneer in aerospace medicine 


Burt Rutan,
Dick Rutan,
Jeana Yeager  First to circumnavigate the globe non-stop without refueling, 1986 


George H. Bush First military flyer to become President of the US, 1988



Other Pioneers


Glenn Curtiss  Pioneer aviator, designer and manufacturer 


Sir Frank J. Whittle  Pioneer developer of turbo-jet aircraft engines


Hans Von Ohain  Developed the engine powering the world’s first jet plane 


Francis and Gertrude Rogallo  Developers of the first successful flexible wing 



Henry Arnold  Father of the US Air Force and first five-star general  


Tom Davis  Pioneer in commercial aviation 


Anne Baumgartner Carl, Jean Hixson  First women to fly American military aircraft; Women Air Service Pilots 


Donald W. Douglas  Pioneer aircraft designer and manufacturer 


Clyde Cessna  General aviation pioneer 


Jack Northrop  Pioneer in the aerospace industry 

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