Aviation, or air transport, refers to the activities surrounding mechanical flight and the aircraft industry. Aircraft includes fixed-wing and rotary-wing types, morphable wings, wing-less lifting bodies, parachutes, as well as lighter-than-air craft such as balloons and airships. Aviation began in the 18th century with the development of the hot air balloon, an apparatus capable of atmospheric displacement through buoyancy. Some of the most significant advancements in aviation technology came with the controlled gliding flying of Otto Lilienthal; then a largest step in significance came with the construction of the first powered airplane by the Wright brothers in the early 1900s. Since that time, aviation has been technologically revolutionized with the introduction of the jet which permitted a major form of transport throughout the world.
Elizabeth 'Bessie' Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926), popularly known as "Queen Bess," was the first African American (male or female) to become an airplane pilot, and the first American of any race or gender to hold an international pilot license. Growing up in Chicago, she heard tales of the world from pilots who were returning home from World War I. They told stories about flying in the war, and Coleman started to fantasize about being a pilot. She could not gain admission to American flight schools because she was black and a woman. No black U.S. aviator would train her either. Coleman took French language class at the Berlitz school in Chicago, and then traveled to Paris on November 20, 1920. Coleman learned to fly in a Nieuport Type 82 biplane.
2010 – The first Solar Impulse aircraft, HB-SIA, the first solar-powered aircraft capable of flying both day and night thanks to batteries charged by solar power that provide it with power during darkness, makes its first flight powered entirely by solar energy, charging its batteries in flight. The flight takes place at Payerne Airport outside Payerne, Switzerland.
2009 – A Nigerian Air Force Van's Aircraft RV-6A Air Beetle crashed near Kaduna, Nigeria on a training flight, both occupants killed.
1999 – An Indian Air Force Mil Mi-17 Hip helicopter is shot down by Pakistan air defence units using an FIM-92 Stinger missile during the Kargil conflict. Four IAF personnel were killed.
1991 – An Sikorsky MH-60G Pave Hawk based at Eglin AFB, Florida, crashes off Antigua in the Caribbean, injuring six of eight aboard, but no fatalities. Although initially reported to have been on a training mission, an accident report obtained by the Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in August, revealed that the crew was sightseeing, taking pictures over beachside hotels and harbors, when the accident occurred.
1959 – Twenty-five ex-RCAF Beech Expeditors flew across the Atlantic under the Military Assistance Program, to Portugal and Franc.
1948 – The Royal Netherlands Navy commissions its first fleet aircraft carrier, HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81), which formerly had served in the British Royal Navy as HMS Venerable. She replaces the first Dutch carrier, the escort carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman (QH1).
1945 – A Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver, BuNo 19866, suffers from a stalled engine during a target run and crashes into Lower Otay Reservoir near San Diego, California. Navy pilot E. D. Frazar, of Richmond, Texas, and U.S. Army gunner Joseph Metz, of Youngstown, Ohio, survive, swim ashore, and hitchhike back to Ream Field. The plane is raised from the reservoir on 20 August 2010. The dive bomber will be transported to Pensacola, Florida for restoration by the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
1944 – Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6, 'Red 3', formerly carrying RQ+DR, werke nummer 163306, crashes into Lake Trzebun in Pomerania, northwest Poland in 0831 hrs. takeoff accident from airfield at Gebbert (now Jaworze), killing pilot Feldwebel Ernst Pleines of 2 Staffel, Jagdgruppe West. (Luftwaffe Verlustmeldung 174 - Casualty Report 174.) He was buried 15 June at Gebbert. Wreck discovered June 1999 in 56 feet (17 m) of water, subsequently recovered by Gdańsk-based Klub Pletwonurków Rekin (Shark Divers' Club) for the Polish Eagles Aviation Foundation for restoration and display.
1938 – The Bristol 146 was built by Bristol to an Air Ministry order for a prototype single-seat eight-gun fighter meeting F.5/34 issued in 1934. The specification further called for an air-cooled engine for overseas use. The Type 146, K5119, incorporated the experience of metal-skinned monoplanes that Bristol had gained with the earlier Type 133, but was quite different in detail. Delivered to Martlesham in April 1938, it came close to meeting the specified requirements, but was not ordered into production. On this date, following an Empire Air Day display at Filton Aerodrome, the sole Type 146, while taxiing, struck a "set-piece" display and was damaged beyond economic repair. It was the last single-engined fighter to be built by Bristol.
1931 – A Bellanca with a Packard DR-980 diesel engine flew for 84 h: 32 m without landing for fuel setting a record.
1921 – Seven men, five of the Army and two civilians, were killed in the wreck of an Army Curtiss Eagle ambulance airplane, USAAS 64242, 64243 or 64244, near Indian Head, Maryland, 40 miles southeast of Washington, in a terrific wind and electrical storm at 1825 hrs. The dead were: Lieutenant Colonel Archie Miller, U.S.A., M. H., Washington, D.C.; Maurice Connolly of Dubuque, Iowa, formerly a member of the United States House of Representatives; A. G. Batchelder of Washington, chairman of the Board of the American Automobile Association; Lieutenant Stanley M. Ames of Washington, pilot of the wrecked plane; Lieutenant Cleveland M. McDermott, Langley Field, Virginia; Lieutenant John M. Pennewill, Langley Field, Virginia; and Sergeant Mechanic Richard Blumenkranz, Washington. Army Air Service officers said the accident was the worst in the history of aviation in the United States and that it was one of the few in which all of the passengers in a falling plane had been killed almost instantly. The ship struck the ground nose first and the impact was so great that the big 400-horsepower Liberty motor in the front end of the craft was torn from its chassis and thrown back into the cockpit on top of the pilot and the passengers. All the bodies were mutilated. The Curtiss-Eagle was returning from a trip to Langley Field, near Newport News, Virginia where it had departed at 1630 hrs., and had just crossed the Potomac River, when it ran into the storm which had passed over Washington an hour before.
1921 – Geo Mestdagh, Belgian aviation pioneer, dies.
1920 – The first Lewis & Vought VE-7 (Vought Experimental No.7) is delivered to the U. S. Navy.