The Decade After: NOV 1909 to Feb 1912
Faster, Higher, Farther
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he pioneer aviation era literally flew by, lasting just a little more than a decade from the first wavering flights at Kitty Hawk to the beginning of World War I. By this time "second generation" aircraft had begun to emerge, combining both maneuverability and stability. This rapid development is all the more remarkable when you consider that for the first few years, the Wright brothers were the only successful pioneers. A few visionaries in America and Europe made brief hops in a handful of airplanes, but nothing approaching the performance of the Wright Flyer in its final 1905 form. This despite the fact that these builders had access to the Wrights' published patents. It wasn't until the Wrights began demonstrating their airplane in 1908 that the rest of the world fully understood the necessity of three-axis control and how to use it.

From that moment, aviation accelerated at an unprecedented rate – and for good reason. Across the globe, politicians were struggling mightily to maintain the "balance of power." Diplomacy had become a tangled web of treaties promising mutual aid in the event of attack. Germany was locked in an arms race with France and England. World war was imminent and the airplane looked to be a versatile and deadly weapon.

  • Landing Without Crashing, 1903 to 1905 – The Wright Brothers develop their temperamental Kitty Hawk Flyer into a practical flying machine.
  • Wake Up Call, 1905 to 1909 – The Wright brothers accomplishments alert aeronautical scientists and engineers in America and Europe to the possibilities of fixed wing aviation.
  • Faster, Higher, Farther, 1909 to 1912 –  Pilots and engineers begin to explore the capabilities and push the possibilities of aircraft.
  • Girding for Battle, 1912 to 1914 – As the First World War approaches, nations develop the airplane into a weapon.





November 3 — Alec Ogilvie, England, patents the first airspeed indicator.

November 22 — Orville and Wilbur Wright incorporate the Wright Company to manufacture airplanes. The company is backed by New York financiers, including Delancy Nicoll, Cornelius Vanderbilt, August Belmont, Morton Plant, Thomas F. Ryan, Theodore P. Shonts, Russel Alger, and Robert Collier.

December — Lt. Benjamin Foulois and Signal Corps No. 1 (the Wright Military Flyer) are transferred to Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, Texas. Foulois has had less than an hour's hands-on flight instruction at College Park and has not yet soloed, so Gen. James Allen tells him to "teach yourself to fly."

Ogilvie's airspeed indicator was the first to use a pitot tube, now standard equipment on every airplane.

Unpacking the Military Flyer at Fort Sam Houston.

The incorporation papers for the Wright Company, showing the signatures of Wilbur and Orville.

January — The Wright Company rents space from the Speedwell Motorcar plant in Dayton, Ohio and begins to manufacture airplanes.

January 10 to 20 — The Los Angeles Air Meet, the first air meet in the United States, takes place at Dominguez Field.

January 17 — The Wright Company hires famous dirigible pilot A. Roy Knabeshue to put together an exhibition flying team, the "Wright-Fliers." Knabeshue begins to scour the country for candidates.

Spring — Zeppelin airships, which first flew in 1900, begin the first regularly scheduled air passenger service. Between 1910 and 1914, this service carries over 35,000 passengers between German cities without a single mishap. Orville Wright is one of those passengers.

March 2 — Lt. Benjamin Foulois solos in Signal Corps No. 1 at Fort Sam Houston, after becoming the "only pilot ever to learn to fly by correspondence" with Orville Wright. For more than a year, Foulois is the US Army's only active pilot and Signal Corps No. 1 remains its only airplane.

March 8Baroness Raymonde de Laroche, France, (her real name was Elise Deroche) becomes the first woman pilot to be granted a license to fly.

March 10 — French pilot Emil Aubrun makes the first night flights.

March 24 — Orville Wright and Charlie Taylor arrive in Montgomery, AL with five students and an airplane in tow. They open a flight school at a location that will one day become Maxwell Air Force Base. The Wright's first civilian students are Walter Brookins, Arch Hoxsey, A. L. Welsh, Spencer Crane, and J. W. Davis. Only Brookins, Hoxsey, and Welsh made it as pilots.

March 28 — Henri Fabre makes the first successful take-off from water in a seaplane that he designed and built.

Spring and Summer — Lt. Benjamin Foulois makes some important improvements to Signal Corps No. 1, including adding seat belts and a wheeled undercarriage.

April 27 to 28 — Louis Paulhan, flying a Farman, wins the first great air race, from London to Manchester in England. This race impresses many, including Wilbur Wright, who predicts for the first time in print that airplanes will one day cross the Atlantic Ocean.

May 10 — Orville Wright leaves Walter Brookins in charge of the flight school in Montgomery, Alabama and returns to Dayton to train students at Huffman Prairie, now refurbished with a larger hangar.  Among his students are Frank Coffyn, Ralph Johnstone, Phil O. Parmalee, J. Clifford Turpin, Howard Gill, and Leonard Bonney. All of these men became pilots for the Wright-Fliers.

May  29 — Glenn Curtiss flies 151 miles (243 kilometers) from Albany to New York City on the first cross-country flight in America. He wins the New York World Prize of $10,000.

Summer — The Wright Brothers ask Arch Hoxsey, a member of their exhibition team, to test a Wright Model A that can be configured with the elevator in front, in back, or both. Toward the end of the summer, Hoxsey is decided that the aircraft flies best with the elevator in back. The Wrights also develop a wheeled undercarriage, perhaps responding to reports from Lt. Benjamin Foulois at Fort Sam Houston.

June Lt. John W. Dunne, England, completes and tests the D.5, the first successful powered flying wing and perhaps the first inherently stable powered aircraft of any sort. Later this year he will demonstrate the D.5 before an audience from the Royal Aero Club that includes Orville Wright.

June 2 — Charles S. Rolls, flying a Wright Model A makes the first round-trip flight over the English Channel and back again.

June 30 — Glenn Curtiss makes the first bombing runs from an airplane, dropping dummy bombs over Lake Keuka near Hammondsport, NY.

July 10 — Walter Brookins becomes the first pilot to fly over a mile above the earth, achieving an altitude of 6234 feet (1900 meters) in a Wright Model A over Atlantic City, New Jersey.

August 20 — Lt. Jacob Fickel fires a Springfield rifle from an airplane piloted by Glenn Curtiss at a target on the ground over Sheepshead Bay Speedway, Brooklyn, New York. He scores one hit. This is the first time a gun is fired from an aircraft.

August 27 — James McCurdy and Fredrick Baldwin, flying a Curtiss biplane, receive and send telegraph messages on a Horton wireless set over Sheepshead Bay, New York. It is the first time that a pilot in the air communicates with people on the ground.

September 2 — Blanche Stuart Scott becomes the first American woman to solo an airplane. She was taught to fly by Glenn Curtiss, although she never received a license.

September 23 — Georges Chavez crosses the Alps in a Bleriot monoplane, flying from Brig, Switzerland and reaching a record altitude of 2200 meters (7,218 feet), but is fatally injured in a crash landing at Domodossola, Italy.

October 3 — Capt. Bertram Dickson, England, flyingFarman biplane, collides with Rene Thomas, France in an Antoinette monoplane over Milan, Italy in the first mid-air collision. Both pilots survive.

October 11 — Former President Theodore Roosevelt goes aloft with Arch Hoxsey at St. Louis, Missouri, becoming the first US commander-in-chief to fly.

October 22 to 30 — The Belmont International Aviation Tournament, the first international air meet in America gets underway at Belmont, NY. It offers a whopping $75,000 in prizes to draw aviators from all over the world. At this meet, the Wrights unveil what will become their most popular airplane, the Wright Model B. Like their earlier craft, the Model B is a pusher biplane with wing-warping. But is has a conventional tail and a wheeled undercarriage. They also bring a special airplane – the Wright Model R, dubbed the "Baby Grand" – to win the speed contest. During speed trials, it flies a 70 mph and is the favorite to win the race. But it crashes before the competition begins.

October 25 — Capt. Yoshitoshi Tokugawa, Japan,  builds and flies the first Japanese aircraft, the Kai-1. It's patterned after a Farman design.

November 7 — Phil Parmalee flies the world's first air-freight shipment – two bolts of silk cloth – from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio in a Wright Model B. The cloth is delivered to Morehouse-Martens Department Store, where it is cut up into swatches and sold as souvenirs. That same day Didier Masson flies a biplane designed by E. Lilian Todd over Long Island, New York. Todd is first woman aeronautical engineer.

November 14 — Flying a Curtiss biplane, Eugene Ely takes off from an 83-foot-long wooden deck built on the U.S.S. Birmingham in Hampton, Roads, VA.  This marks the birth of the aircraft carrier.

November 17 — Ralph Johnstone,  a member of the Wright exhibition team, fails to pull out of a spiraling dive and dies in a crash. He is the first American pilot to lose his life in an airplane.

This postcard shows the Speedwell Motorcar building, the first home of the Wright Company.

Roy Knabenshue flying his "Racing Airship" just before signing on with the Wright brothers. He won a race with an automobile in this dirigible.

Baroness Raymonde de Laroche at the controls of her Voison.

Orville talks with two of his students in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Wright Military Flyer at Fort Sam Houston with its flight crew. Note the wheels.

The hangar for the Wright Flying School near Montgomery, Alabama was built by Montgomery businesses to the Wrights' specs.

Curtiss' Albany Flyer was equipped with pontoons to serve as flotation devices should Curtiss have trouble and have to put down in the Hudson River.

John William Dunne sits in the cockpit of the Dunne "D.5." This was the first flying wing. The unusual design lifted huge loads and was very stable in flight.

Charles Rolls dons a life preserver as he prepares to fly roundtrip across the English Channel.

Walter Brookins climbs to an altitude of 6,1725 feet (1882 meters) over Atlantic City, setting a new altitude record.

While flying at Sheepshead Bay, James McCurdy and Fredrick Baldwin send and receive messages between and airplane and the ground. Both men were pilots for Glenn Curtiss.

Chevas wrecked his Bleriot just 50 miles (80 kilometers) short of his destination -- but he had crossed the Aps.

Arch Hoxsey instructs former President Theodore Roosevelt to put his seat back and tray in the upright position.

The Wright Model R "Baby Grand" was powered by a V-8 engine, the only eight-cylinder engine the Wrights ever built.

Phil Parmalee wrapped head to toe prepares to make the first air freight flight.

Eugene Ely takes off from a sloped wooden deck built on the bow of the USS Birmingham.

A poster announcing the 1910 Los Angeles Airmeet. Forty-three aviators and budding young aviation companies participated.

Lt. Benjamin Foulois in the cockpit of a Wright military aircraft. In the seat beside him is a radio transmitter, a telegraph key is attached to the elevator control stick.

Henri Fabre taxis across the bay at Monaco in the first successful seaplane, which he called a "hydravion."

Louis Paulhan lands his Farman biplane in London after flying 195 miles (314 kilometers) from Manchester in 12 hours with just one stop.

The new hangar for the flying school at Huffman Prairie was very similar to the one in Montgomery, but it was not covered by advertising.

Arch Hoxsey flying outside of St. Louis; his Wright Flyer configured to have two elevators – one in front and the other in back.

The D.5 from the rear. Dunne aircraft developed in secret as the British believed the design had military potential, perhaps a a stable bombing platform.

Glenn Curtiss drops dummy bombs (8-inch lengths of lead pipe) on a mock warship made from paper. He hit his target 18 times out of 20.

Lt. Fickel fires a rifle at a 3-foot by 5-foot paper target from an altitude of 100 feet. He hit the target and later repeated the feat with a semi-automatic pistol.

Blanche Stuart Scott in the cockpit of her Curtiss aircraft.

The aftermath of the first mid-air collision.

The Wright Model B, which was to become the Wright Company's most popular aircraft, was unveiled at the Belmont International Air Meet.

Capt. Yoshitoshi Tokugawa in the cockpit of his aircraft.

Lillian Todd in her biplane.

Sensational newspaper article about Johnstone's fatal accident.

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