Early flying machines
This article is an overview of early flying machines and aviation research, and an analysis of the debates over early flying machines. The story of flight begins more than a century before the 1903 Wright Flyer, and goes on some decades with rotorcraft.
Claims to first flying machine (unmanned) by date 
- According to Aulus Gellius, the Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist, Archytas, (428–347 BC) was reputed to have designed and built the first artificial, self-propelled flying device, a bird-shaped model propelled by a jet of what was probably steam, said to have actually flown some 200 metres. This machine, which its inventor called The Pigeon (Greek: Περιστέρα "Peristera"), may have been suspended on a wire or pivot for its flight.
- Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi, Ottoman Empire, an experimenter with early airship designs
- In 1630–1632 Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi claimed to have achieved sustained unpowered flight with a flying machine.
- Bartolomeu de Gusmão, Brazil and Portugal, an experimenter with early airship designs
- In 1709 Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrated a small airship model before the Portuguese court, but never succeeded with a full-scale model.
- Mikhail Lomonosov, Russia — 1754
- In July 1754, Mikhail Lomonosov demonstrated a small tandem rotor to the Russian Academy of Sciences. This aerodyne was self-powered by a spring.
- George Cayley, United Kingdom — 1804
- In 1804 Cayley built and successfully flew a 5 ft (1.5 m) glider with a kite-shaped wing and an adjustable cruciform tail.
- Alphonse Pénaud, France — 1871
- An early successful model aeroplane was the rubber-powered "Planophore". The 0.45 m (1 ft 6 in) span model achieved a flight of 60 m (200 ft) in August 1871.
- Victor Tatin, France, 1879
- First aeroplane to lift itself under its own power, the Aeroplane was a 1.9 m (6.2 ft) model powered by a compressed-air engine.
- Chūhachi Ninomiya, Japan — 1894
- Developed several small powered models including an early tailless aircraft.
Claims to first piloted flight by date 
Pre-19th century 
- The 9th century Muslim Berber polymath Abbas Ibn Firnas covered his body with vulture feathers and 'flew faster than a phoenix" according to a contemporary poem. This is the first attempt at heavier-than-air flight in aviation history backed by a contemporary documentary source.
- In 1010 AD an English monk, Eilmer of Malmesbury, purportedly piloted a primitive gliding craft from the tower of Malmesbury Abbey. Eilmer was said to have flown over 200 yards (180 m) before landing, breaking both his legs. He later remarked that the only reason he did not fly further was because he forgot to give it a tail, and he was about to add one when his concerned Abbot forbade him any further experiments.
- Louis-Sébastien Lenormand, France — 1783
- Considered the first human to make a witnessed descent with a parachute. On December 26, 1783 he jumped from the tower of the Montpellier observatory in front of a crowd that included Joseph Montgolfier, using a 14 foot parachute with a rigid wooden frame.
- Pilâtre de Rozier, France — 1783
- Pilâtre de Rozier made the first trip by a human in a free-flying balloon (the Montgolfière): 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) covered in 25 minutes, 21 November 1783, near Paris.
- On 26 August 1783, the first unmanned flight of a hydrogen balloon, Le Globe.
- On 1 December 1783 La Charlière piloted by Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert made the first manned hydrogen balloon flight.
- On 19 September 1784, La Caroline, an elongated craft that followed Jean Baptiste Meusnier's proposals for a dirigible balloon, completed the first flight over 100 km from Paris to Beuvry.
19th century 
- John Stringfellow, England — 1848
- First heavier than air powered flight, accomplished by an unmanned steam powered monoplane of 10 feet (3.0 m) wingspan. In 1848, he flew a powered monoplane model a few dozen feet at an exhibition at Cremorne Gardens in London.
- Henri Giffard, France — 1852
- On 24 September 1852 Giffard made the first powered and controlled flight, travelling 27 km (17 mi) from Paris to Trappes. This was the world's first passenger-carrying airship. Both practical and steerable, the hydrogen-filled airship was equipped with a 3 hp steam engine that drove a 3 bladed propeller.
- George Cayley, England — 1853
- First well-documented Western human glide. Cayley also made the first scientific studies into the aerodynamic forces on a winged flying machine and produced designs incorporating a fuselage, wings, stabilizing tail and control surfaces. He discovered and identified the four aerodynamic forces of flight - weight, lift, drag, and thrust. Modern aeroplane design is based on those discoveries including cambered wings. He is only one of the many called the "Father of aviation".
- Jean-Marie Le Bris, France — 1856
- Jean-Marie Le Bris was the first to fly higher than his point of departure, by having his glider pulled by a horse on a beach, against the wind.
- Jan Wnek, Poland — controlled flights 1866 - 1869.
- Unsubstantiated claim of controlled flight. Kraków Museum of Ethnography, the source of claims of documentary evidence, refuse to allow independent researchers access to these.
- Félix du Temple de la Croix, France, 1874
- First take-off of a manned and powered aircraft, using a sloping ramp, resulting in a brief flight a few feet above the ground.
- John Joseph Montgomery, United States of America 1883
- First controlled glider flight in the United States, from a hillside near Otay, California.
- Charles Renard, France 1884.
- Aboard the dirigible "La France", first closed course circuit, length 7.6 kilometres (4.7 mi) near Chalais-Meudon, August 9, 1884.
- First powered hop by a manned multi-engine (steam) fixed-wing aircraft, 60–100 feet (20-30 m), from a downsloped ramp.
- Clément Ader, France — October 9, 1890
- He reportedly made the first manned, powered, heavier-than-air flight of a significant distance (50 metres) but insignificant altitude from level ground in his bat-winged, fully self-propelled fixed wing aircraft with a single tractor propeller, the Ader Éole. Seven years later, the Avion III is claimed to have flown over 300 metres, just lifting off the ground, and then crashing. The event was not publicized until many years later, as it had been a military secret. The events were poorly documented, the aeroplane not suited to have been controlled and there was no further development.
- Otto Lilienthal, Germany — 1891
- The German "Glider King" was the first person to make controlled untethered glides repeatedly, and the first to be photographed flying a heavier-than-air machine. He made about 2,000 glides until his death on 10 August 1896 from injuries in a glider crash the day before.
- Lawrence Hargrave, Australia — November 12, 1894
- The Australian inventor of the box kite linked four of his kites together, added a sling seat, and flew 16 feet (4.9 m). By demonstrating to a sceptical public that it was possible to build a safe and stable flying machine, Hargrave opened the door to other inventors and pioneers. Hargrave devoted most of his life to constructing a machine that would fly. He believed passionately in open communication within the scientific community and would not patent his inventions. Instead, he scrupulously published the results of his experiments in order that a mutual interchange of ideas may take place with other inventors working in the same field, so as to expedite joint progress.
- Hiram Stevens Maxim, United Kingdom — 1894
- The American inventor of the Maxim Gun built a very large 3.5 ton (3.2 t) flying machine that ran on a track and was propelled by powerful twin naphtha fuelled steam engines. He made several tests in the huge biplane that were well recorded and reported. On July 31, 1894, he made a record breaking speed run at 42 miles per hour (68 km/h). The machine lifted a very short distance from the 1,800-foot (550 m) track and broke a restraining rail, causing a crash. It was never designed for controlled flight, only tests of aerodynamic lift.
- Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, India — 1895
- The Sanskrit scholar Shivkar Bapuji Talpade designed an unmanned aircraft called Marutsakthi (meaning Power of Air), supposedly based on Vedic technology. It is claimed that it took off before a large audience in the Chowpathy beach of Bombay and flew to a height of 1,500 feet.
- Samuel Pierpont Langley, United States — May 6, 1896
- First sustained flight by a heavier-than-air powered, unmanned aircraft: the Number 5 model, driven by a miniature steam engine, flew half a mile in 90 seconds over the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. In November the Number 6 flew more than five thousand feet. Langley's full-size manned powered, similarly tandem winged Aerodrome failed twice in October and December 1903.
- Octave Chanute, United States — Summer 1896
- Designer of first rectangular wing strut-braced biplane (originally tri-plane) hang glider, a configuration that strongly influenced the Wright brothers. Flown successfully at the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan, U.S. by his proteges, including Augustus Herring, for distances exceeding 100 feet (30 m).
- Carl Rickard Nyberg, Sweden — 1897
- Managed a few short jumps in his Flugan, a steam powered, manned aircraft
- Gustave Whitehead, United States — 1899
- Allegedly flew a steam-powered monoplane about half a mile and crashed into a three-story building in Pittsburgh in April or May 1899, according to a witness who gave a statement in 1934, saying he was the passenger. Aviation historian Charles Harvard Gibbs-Smith dismisses all of Whitehead's claims to powered flight.
- Percy Pilcher, England — 1899
- Pioneer British glider/plane builder and pilot; protege of Lilienthal; killed in 1899 when his fourth glider crashed shortly before the intended public test of his powered triplane. Cranfield University built a replica of the triplane in 2003 from drawings in Philip Jarrett's book "Another Icarus". Test pilot Bill Brooks successfully flew it several times, staying airborne up to 1 minute and 25 seconds.
- Augustus Moore Herring, United States — 1899
- Claimed a flight of 70 feet (21 m) by attaching a compressed air motor to a biplane hang glider. However, he was unable to repeat the flight with anyone present.
20th century 
- Ferdinand von Zeppelin, German Empire —1900
- Founder of the Zeppelin firm, whose Luftschiff Zeppelin 1 (LZ 1) first flew from the Bodensee on the Swiss border on July 2, 1900 was the world's first successful rigid airship.
- Wilhelm Kress, Austria —1901
- Tested Drachenflieger, a tandem monoplane seaplane similar to Samuel Langley's Aerodrome, which made brief airborne hops but could not sustain itself.
- Gustave Whitehead, United States — August 14, 1901.
- Reported flight by a heavier than air flying machine, the Whitehead No. 21, was propelled by a motor of Whitehead's own design. The Bridgeport Herald said the craft started on wheels from a flat surface, flew 800 metres at 15 metres height, and landed safely. Some aviation historians, mostly associated with the Smithsonian, have dismissed Whitehead's reported and claimed flights. Charles Harvard Gibbs-Smith wrote that the reported carbide- or acetylene-powered engine "almost certainly never existed". In 2013, Jane's All the World's Aircraft credited Whitehead, based on the Herald report and other sources, as the first man to build and fly an operational heavier-than-air flying machine.
- Lyman Gilmore, United States — May 15, 1902
- Gilmore claimed to be the first person to fly a powered aircraft (a steam-powered glider). No witnesses.
- Gustave Whitehead, United States — January 17, 1902.
- Whitehead claimed two more flights on January 17, 1902 using his Number 22. As with his previous claims, these are not believed by some mainstream historians.
- Orville & Wilbur Wright, United States — October 1902.
- Completed development of the three-axis control system with the incorporation of a movable rudder connected to the wing warping control on their 1902 Glider. They subsequently made several fully controlled heavier than air gliding flights, including one of 622.5 ft (189.7 m) in 26 seconds. The 1902 glider was the basis for their patented control system still used on modern fixed-wing aircraft.
- Richard Pearse, New Zealand — March 31, 1903?
- Several people reportedly witnessed Pearse make powered flights including one on this date of over 100 ft (30 m) in a high-wing, tricycle undercarriage monoplane powered by a 15 hp (11 kW) air-cooled horizontally opposed engine. Flight ended with a crash into a hedgerow. Although the machine had pendulum stability and a three axis control system, incorporating ailerons, Pearse's pitch and yaw controls were ineffectual. Pearse himself made no claim to have achieved anything before 1904.
- Karl Jatho, Germany — August 18, 1903.
- On August 18, 1903 flew his self-made aircraft [powered by a single-cylinder 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) Buchet engine driving a two-bladed pusher propeller for 18 m (59 ft). He had four witnesses for his flight. Modified by the addition of a second lifting surface, a second flight of 60 m (200 ft) at a height of 10 feet (3.0 m) was made in November.
- Orville & Wilbur Wright, United States — December 17, 1903.
- First recorded controlled, powered, sustained heavier than air flight, in the Wright Flyer I, a biplane. In the day's fourth flight, Wilbur Wright flew 852 ft (260 m) in 59 seconds. First three flights were approximately 120, 175, and 200 ft (61 m), respectively. The Wrights laid particular stress on fully and accurately describing all the requirements for controlled, powered flight and put them into use in an aircraft which took off without the aid of a catapult from a level launching rail, with the aid of a headwind to achieve sufficient airspeed before reaching the end of the rail.
- Horatio Phillips, United Kingdom — 1904.
- experimented with slat-winged configured aircraft. It was a fully self-propelled, autonomous take-off fixed wing aircraft using an internal combustion engine and a single tractor propeller that included its own wheeled landing gear and modern looking tail empenage. It flew 50 feet. A later and larger version of the slat-wing flew 500 feet in 1907.
- First high altitude flights with Maloney as pilot of a Montgomery tandem-wing glider design in March and April.The glider was launched by balloon to heights up to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) with Maloney controlling the aircraft through a series of prescribed manoeuvers to a predetermined landing location in front of a large public gathering at Santa Clara, California. On 18 July, Maloney was killed when the aircraft broke up at high altitude.
- Wilbur Wright, United States — October 5, 1905.
- Wilbur Wright pilots Wright Flyer III in a flight of 24 miles (39 km) in 39 minutes (a world record that stood until Orville Wright broke it in 1908) and returns to land the plane at the takeoff site.
- Traian Vuia, Romania — March 18, 1906.
- Fully self-propelled, fixed-wing monoplane aircraft using a carbonic acid gas engine and a single tractor propeller. He flew for 12 metres at about 1 m height. His aircraft was unable to sustain flight.
- Jacob Ellehammer, Denmark — September 12, 1906.
- Built monoplane, which he tested with a tether on the Danish Lindholm island.
- Alberto Santos-Dumont, Brazil — October 23, 1906.
- The 14 Bis at the Chateau de Bagatelle's grounds, Bois de Boulogne, Paris. The Aero Club of France certified the distance of 60 metres (197 ft); height was about 2–3 metres (6–10 ft). Winner of the Archdeacon Prize for first official flight of more than 25 metres.
- Breguet brothers, France — 1907
- Jacques and Louis Breguet helicopter experiments resulted (with the advice of Charles Richet) in the Gyroplane No. 1 lifting its pilot up into the air about 60 cm (2 ft) for a minute. However, the flight proved to be extremely unsteady. For this reason, the flights of the Gyroplane No. 1 are considered to be the first manned flight of a helicopter, but not a free flight.
- Paul Cornu, France — 1907
- On 13 November 1907, the Paul Cornu helicopter lifted its inventor to 30 cm (1 ft) and remained aloft for 20 seconds. It was reported to be the first truly free flight with a pilot.
- Henri Fabre, France — 1910
- On March 28, 1910, the Fabre Hydravion, an experimental floatplane designed by Henri Fabre, was notable as the first plane in history to take off from water under its own power.
- Juan de la Cierva, Spain — 1923
- De la Cierva developed the articulated rotor which resulted in the world's first successful flight of a stable rotary-wing aircraft in 1923 with his fourth experimental autogyro.
Table of flying machines 
Literature, Designs only:
|Designer/maker||Nationality||Title or specialty||Year||Status/Description|
|Roger Bacon||British||Secrets of Art and Nature||c. 1250||ornithopter design|
|Leonardo da Vinci||Italian||The Ornithopter||c. 1490||design, literature|
|Emanuel Swedenborg||Swedish||Flying Machine||1714||design, literature|
|Sir George Cayley||British||On Aerial Navigation||1809–1810||Technical literature. This work laid the ground rules for all later aircraft|
|Le Comte Ferdinand Charles Honore Phillipe d'Esterno||On The Flight Of Birds (Du Vol des Oiseaux)||1864||technical literature|
|Louis Pierre Mouillard||French||The Empire Of The Air (L'Empire de L'Air)||1865||literature|
|Otto Lilienthal||German||Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation (Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst)||1889||literature|
|James Means||American||The Problem of Manflight, Aeronautical Annual||1894–1897||literature|
|Octave Chanute||American (born in France)||Progress in Flying Machines||1894||His technical articles collected in a book|
|Wilbur Wright||American||"Some Aeronautical Experiments"||1901||Published speech to Western Society of Engineers, Chicago|
|Martin Wiberg||Swedish||"Luftmaskin"||1903||Received a patent for a design powered by a liquid fuel rocket|
More than design or literature 
Note overlapping years in several cases, so all items in this list may not be in strict chronological order.
|John Childs||American||"Feathered glider"||1757||Three successful flights in two days||Reports suggest that this was a fairground trick, involving sliding down a tethered rope. He had claimed to have performed the same stunt many times earlier in Europe|
|William Samuel Henson||British||Aerial Steam Carriage, monoplane with cabin, tail and twin pusher propellers||1842||Models only, publicity illustrations|
|John Stringfellow||British||The Stringfellow Machines||1848, 1868||Indoor flights by fixed-wing steam-powered models|
|Sir George Cayley||British||"Governable Parachute"||1849–1853||Child- and man-carrying glides, both towed and free-flying|
|Rufus Porter||American||The New York to California Aerial Transport||1849||Uncompleted steam-powered dirigible|
|Jean Marie Le Bris||French||The Artificial Albatross||1857, 1867||Towed gliding flight|
|Felix and Louis du Temple de la Croix||French||Du Temple Monoplane, aluminum construction, steam-powered||1857–1877||Powered manned hop from ramp|
|Francis Herbert Wenham||British||"Aerial Locomotion" (academic paper)||1866||Patented superposed wing design (biplane, mulitplane); invented wind tunnel|
|Jan Wnęk||Polish||glider||1866–1869||Controlled flights from local church tower|
|Frederick Marriott||Marriott flying machines||1869|
|Alphonse Pénaud||French||Planophore, Pénaud Toy Helicopter||1871||Rubber-powered fixed-wing and helicopter ornithopter models|
|Thomas Moy||British||Moy Aerial Steamer, tandem wings, 120 lb (55 kg), 15 ft (4.6 m) wingspan, 3 horsepower, twin fan-type propellers||1875||Lifted 6 inches (0.15 m) from ground at London Crystal Palace|
|Enrico Forlanini||Italian||Demonstration in Milan, Helicopter, unmanned, steam-powered.||1877||Rose to 13 meters (40 feet) for 20s duration: first heavier than air self-powered machine to fly|
|Thomas Moy||as above||The Military Kite||1879|
|Charles F. Ritchel||American||Ritchel Hand-powered Airship||1878|
|Victor Tatin||French||Tatin flying machines||1879|
|J. B. Biot||French||The Biot Kite||1880||Tailless kite|
|Alexandre Goupil||French||Goupi Monoplane, La Locomotion Aerienne||1883|
|John Joseph Montgomery||American||Montgomery monoplane, Tandem-wing Gliders||1883–1911||A pre-1900 foot-launched manned glide; balloon-launched after 1900|
|Aleksandr Fyodorovich Mozhaiski||Russian||Mozhaiski Monoplane, multi-engine, steam||1884||Powered manned hop from ramp|
|Massia and Biot||Massia-Biot Glider||1887||Began construction in 1879. Massia funded completion. Short hops|
|Lawrence Hargrave||British immigrant to Australia||Hargrave flying machines and Box Kites||1889–1893||influential designs|
|Clément Ader||French||Eole, Avion, bat-wing, steam-driven||1890–1897||Manned, un-controlled powered hops from level surface. Curiously Santos-Dumont is given credit for first flight in Europe 16 years later for doing essentially the same as Ader did here.|
|Chuhachi Ninomiya||Japanese||The Tamamushi (model)||1891|
|Otto Lilienthal||German||Bat-wing hang gliders, mono- and biplane||1891–1896||2,000 manned glides, dozens photographed|
|Horatio Frederick Phillips||British||Multiplanes||1893–1907||Multiple-wing test machines; successful flights in 1904 (50 feet) and 1907 (500 feet)|
|Hiram Stevens Maxim||British (born in America)||Maxim Biplane, a behemoth machine: 145 ft (44.2 m) long, 3.5 tons, 110 ft (33.5 m) wingspan, two 180 hp steam engines driving two propellers.||1894||Broke from restraining rail and made uncontrolled manned flight. Total flying distance, 1,000 ft (305 m) while restrained, 924 ft (282 m) free flight. Total 1,924 ft (586 m)|
|Pablo Suarez||The Suarez Glider||1895|
|Shivkar Bapuji Talpade||Indian||Marutsakha||1895|
|Percy Sinclair Pilcher||British||Bat, Beetle, Hawk bat-wing hang gliders||1896–1899||Manned glides; fatal crash before planned public test of powered triplane; modern replica flown|
|Octave Chanute and Augustus Herring||American (Chanute born in France)||Hang gliders, "modern" biplane wing design||1896||Manned glides|
|William Paul Butusov, with Chanute group||Russian immigrant to U.S.||Albatross Soaring Machine||1896||unmanned unpowered uncontrolled hop from ramp|
|Samuel Pierpont Langley||American||Langley Aerodrome, Tandem wings, unmanned, steam-powered.||1896||5,000 ft. (1.7 km), photographed|
|William Frost||Welsh||Frost Airship Glider||1896||Manned, 500 meters, possibly with balloon assist|
|Carl Rickard Nyberg||Swedish||Flugan||1897 and on||Hops|
|Edson Fessenden Gallaudet||American||Gallaudet Wing Warping Kite||1898|
|Lyman Wiswell Gilmore, Jr.||American||Gilmore Monoplane, steam driven||1898|
|Gustave Whitehead||German (Emigrated to U.S.)||Monoplane with pilot and passenger, steam powered||1899||500 m flight||Dismissed by mainstream historians|
|Wilhelm Kress||Austrian||Kress Waterborne Aeroplane||1901||Long hops|
|Gustave Whitehead||as above||Whitehead Albatross, glider||1901|
|Gustave Whitehead||as above||Whitehead No. 21, bat-wing, 20 hp motor, twin tractor propellers||1901||800 m, 4 flights, body shifting control||Dismissed by mainstream historians|
|Gustave Whitehead||as above||No. 22, 40 hp motor, twin tractor propellers||1902||10 km circle; control by differential propeller speed and rudder||Dismissed by mainstream historians|
|Richard William Pearse||New Zealand||Pearse Monoplane||1903||150 m, believed controllable but unstable -numerous witnesses|
|Karl Jatho||German||The Jatho Biplane||1903||70 m powered hop, unstable|
|Wright Brothers||American||Wright Flyer, level launch rail, headwind for sufficient airspeed biplane||1903||.||Four flights, longest 852 feet (260 m), 59 s, controlled|
|Guido Dinelli||Dinelli Glider, Aereoplano||1903||70 m, no motor|
|Wilbur Wright||American||Wright Flyer III, catapult launch||1905||24 miles (39 km), circling, max height about 50 feet (15.2 m)|
|Gabriel Voisin||French||Voisin floatplane glider||1905||Towed into air, 600 m (2,000 ft)|
|Alberto Santos-Dumont||Brazilian living in France||14-bis, Hargrave-style box-cell wings, sharp dihedral, pusher propeller, internal combustion. (Demoiselle in 1909, tractor monoplane with wing-warping)||1906||Semi-controlled, rose off flat ground with no external assistance, 200 meters, 21 s, first official European flight|
|Jacob Ellehammer||Danish||Monoplane, helicopter||1906, 1912||Tethered powered fixed-wing flight|
|Traian Vuia||Romanian, flight experiments in France||Vuia I, Vuia II monoplanes, Carbonic acid engine on Vuia I, internal combustion engine on Vuia II||1906–1907||Powered manned hops|
|Glenn H. Curtiss and A.E.A.||American||June Bug, biplane with wingtip ailerons||1908||First official 1 km U.S. flight|
Historic records 
|Zhuge Liang||Kongming lantern, first hot air balloon||2nd or 3rd century|
|'Abbas Ibn Firnas||Single flight of manned ornithopter; ended in crash and injury.||875|
|Eilmer of Malmesbury||Single flight of manned glider.||1010|
|Unknown Chinese||Manned kites are common. Reported by Marco Polo||1290|
|Lagari Hasan Çelebi||First manned rocket flight||1633|
|Bartolomeu de Gusmão||First lighter-than-air airship flight||1709|
|John Childs||Unnamed flying device, flew 700m three times over two days. Documentation suggests that he glided down along a 700m rope and landed where the rope was fixed to the ground.||1757|
|Montgolfier brothers||Modern hot air balloon||1783|
|Jacques Charles and the Robert brothers||First manned and unmanned flights of a hydrogen balloon||1893|
|Diego Marín Aguilera||Single flight of manned-glider-wings||1793|
|William Samuel Henson||Aerial Steam Carriage, flight of model||1842|
|John Stringfellow||Stringfellow Machines||1848, 1868|
|Henri Giffard||Non-rigid airship, hydrogen filled envelope for lift, powered by steam engine||1852|
|Sir George Cayley||Cayley Glider, flight of manned glider. Investigating many theoretical aspects of flight. Many now acknowledge him as the first aeronautical engineer.||1853|
|Rufus Porter||New York to California Aerial Transport, an early attempt at an airline||1849|
|Jean Marie Le Bris||Artificial Albatross||1857, 1867|
|Félix du Temple de la Croix||Monoplane (1874) Maybe first powered manned fixed-wing flight, a short hop, from a downward ramp.||1857–1877|
|Francis Herbert Wenham||Wenham's Aerial Locomotion||1866|
|Jan Wnęk||Loty glider, many flights||1866|
|James William Butler and Edmund Edwards||Steam-Jet Dart Patented a prophetic design, that of a delta-winged jet-propelled aircraft, derived from a folded paper plane.||1867|
|Frederick Marriott||Marriott flying machines, as well as an attempt at an early airline||1869|
|Alphonse Pénaud||Planophore, Pénaud Toy Helicopter||1871|
|Thomas Moy||Moy Aerial Steamer,||1875|
|Thomas Moy||The Military Kite||1879|
|Charles F. Ritchel||Ritchel Hand-powered Airship||1878|
|Victor Tatin||Tatin flying machines||1879|
|Biot and Massia||Biot-Massia Glider||1887|
|Alexandre Goupil||Goupi Monoplane, La Locomotion Aerienne||1883|
|John J. Montgomery||Montgomery Monoplane and Tandem-Wing Gliders||1883–1911|
|Aleksandr Fyodorovich Mozhaiski||Mozhaiski Monoplane||1884|
|Charles Renard, Arthur Constantin Krebs||The first fully controllable free-flight was made with the La France airship||1884|
|Lawrence Hargrave||Hargrave flying machines and Box kites||1889–1893|
|Clément Ader||Éole, Avion, short, manned and powered, flights||1890–1897|
|Chuhachi Ninomiya||Karasu model, Tamamushi model||1891, 1895|
|Otto Lilienthal||Derwitzer Glider, Normal soaring apparatus and others, many flights||1891–1896|
|Horatio Phillips||Phillips 1893 Flying Machine, Phillips 1907 Multiplane||1893, 1906|
|Hiram Stevens Maxim||Maxim Biplane||1894|
|Pablo Suarez||Suarez Glider||1895|
|Octave Chanute and Augustus Herring||Chanute and Herring Gliding Machines||1896|
|William Paul Butusov||Albatross Soaring Machine||1896|
|William Frost||Frost Airship Glider||1896|
|Percy Sinclair Pilcher||Pilcher Hawk Based on the work of his mentor Otto Lilienthal, in 1897 Pilcher built a glider called The Hawk with which he broke the world distance record when he flew 250 m (820 ft)||1897|
|Samuel Pierpont Langley||Langley Aerodromes||1896–1903|
|Carl Rickard Nyberg||Flugan, very short manned flight||1897|
|Edson Fessenden Gallaudet||Gallaudet Wing Warping Kite||1898|
|Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin||Zeppelin airship LZ 1. The first Zeppelin flight occurred on July 2, 1900 over the Bodensee, lasted 18 minutes. The second and third flights were in October 1900 and October 24, 1900 respectively, beating the 6 m/s velocity record of the French airship La France by 3 m/s.||1900|
|Wilhelm Kress||Kress Waterborne Aeroplane hops||1901|
|Alberto Santos-Dumont||Santos-Dumont gained fame by designing, building, and flying dirigibles. On 19 October 1901, he won the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize of 100,000 francs by taking off from Saint-Cloud, flying his steerable balloon around the Eiffel Tower, and returning.||1901|
|Wright brothers||Completed development of the three-axis control system with the incorporation of a movable rudder connected to the wing warping control on their 1902 Glider. They subsequently made several fully controlled heavier than air gliding flights, including one of 622.5 ft (189.7 m) in 26 seconds.||1902|
|Karl Jatho||Jatho Biplane 10 hp 70m hops||1903|
|Wright brothers||Wright Flyer I, Successful, manned, powered, controlled and sustained flight, 259m, in 59 seconds, according to the Federation Aeronautique International and Smithsonian Institution. Preceded by three other flights, each less than 200 feet.||1903|
|Wright Brothers||Wright Flyer III Wilbur Wright pilots a flight of 24 miles (39 km) in nearly 39 minutes on Oct. 5, a world record that stood until Orville Wright surpassed it in 1908.||1905|
|Traian Vuia||Vuia I, Vuia II, Several short powered flights. August 1906, 24m flight. July 5, 1907, Flew 20m. and crashed.||1906–1907|
|Alberto Santos-Dumont||First officially observed European flights in the 14-bis or Oiseau de proie ("bird of prey"). On 23 October 1906 he won the prize given by Ernest Archdeacon for the first aviator to demonstrate a flight of more than 25 m. On 12 November 1906, he flew the 14-bis 220 metres in 21.5 seconds, winning the Aero Club de France's prize for the first flight of over 100 m (330 ft)||1906|
|Gabriel Voisin||On 13 January 1908 Henri Farman wins the Aero Club de France's Grand Prix d'aviation by making a closed-circuit flight of over a kilometre, flying a Voisin biplane||1908|
|Glenn H. Curtiss||AEA June Bug First official U.S. flight exceeding 1 kilometer (5,360 ft (1,630 m).||1908|
|Louis Blériot||Crossed the English Channel, France to Britain, 23 miles (37 km) in Blériot XI monoplane||1909|
|Henri Fabre||First seaplane.||1910|
|John William Dunne||With the Dunne D.5 tailless Biplane, the fifth in a series of tailless swept-wing designs, Dunne was among the first to achieve natural stability in flight in the same year.||1910.|
See also 
- Timeline of aviation
- Aviation history
- Accidents and incidents in aviation
- World War I Aviation
- List of years in aviation
- Incidents in Aviation
- History by contract
- Aulus Gellius, "Attic Nights", Book X, 12.9 at LacusCurtius
- ARCHYTAS OF TARENTUM, Technology Museum of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece.
- Modern rocketry [dead link]
- Automata history.
- and StringfellowFlight magazine 24 February 1956
- "Sir George Carley (British Inventor and Scientist)". Britannica. Retrieved 2009-07-26. "English pioneer of aerial navigation and aeronautical engineering and designer of the first successful glider to carry a human being aloft."
- "The Pioneers: Aviation and Airmodelling". Retrieved 2009-07-26. "Sir George Cayley, is sometimes called the 'Father of Aviation'. A pioneer in his field, he is credited with the first major breakthrough in heavier-than-air flight. He was the first to identify the four aerodynamic forces of flight - weight, lift, drag, and thrust - and their relationship and also the first to build a successful human carrying glider."
- Tom Crouch's book A Dream of Wings, page 67.
- Progress in Flying Machines by Octave Chanute held Mouillard's description of the flight in Mouillard's third glider. http://invention.psychology.msstate.edu/i/Chanute/library/Prog_Aero_Jan1893.html
- Deccan Herald News Article (16th December 2003) Flying high
- Popular Aviation (1935) at Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company
- Gibbs-Smith, Charles Harvard (1960). The Aeroplane: An Historical Survey of Its Origins and Development. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. pp. 207–208.
- Gibbs-Smith, Charles Harvard. (1970). Aviation: an historical survey from its origins to the end of World War II, pages 291–292.
- In the mockumentary Forgotten Silver, director Peter Jackson recreated this flight, supposedly filmed by New Zealand filmmaker Colin McKenzie. The film was so convincing, Paul Harvey reported it as genuine on his syndicated News and Comment program).
- Wright, Wilbur (1901). "Some Aeronautical Experiments"
- Lynn Townsend White, Jr. (Spring, 1961). "Eilmer of Malmesbury, an Eleventh Century Aviator: A Case Study of Technological Innovation, Its Context and Tradition", Technology and Culture 2 (2), p. 97-111 [100-101].
- First Flights, Saudi Aramco World, January–February 1964, p. 8-9.
- Aerospaceweb - Who was the first to fly?
- Aerospaceweb - Why do Brazilians consider Alberto Santos-Dumont the first man to fly if he didn't fly until 1906 and the Wright brothers did so in 1903?
- Pre-Wright flying machines
- Aviation Pioneers: An Anthology
- The Early Birds of Aviation
- History Net article
- Plane truth: list of greatest technical breakthroughs in manned flight by Jürgen Schmidhuber, Nature 421, 689, 2003