• 1903 -- The First Heavier-than-Air Flight

    Air power as we know it today developed from the epic, controlled-power flight of Wilbur and Orville Wright, which occurred at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, 1903. The first flight over the sand dunes by Orville lasted 12 seconds and covered a distance of 120 feet. In the fourth and last flight of the day, in raw and windy weather, Wilbur flew 852 feet in 59 seconds.
  • 1907-1911 -- Signal Corps No. 1, the Army's First Airplane

    The U.S. Army Signal Corps specified that its first airplane should have a range of 125 miles, a minimum speed of 40 miles per hour, and could remain aloft for one hour while carrying two people. When those requirements were met by Orville and Wilbur Wright, the Signal Corps purchased "Signal Corps No. 1" for $30,000 and the Wright Brothers delivered it on August 2, 1909.
  • 1908 -- First Fatality in a Powered Aircraft

     On Sept. 17, 1908, a modified Wright Brothers aircraft crashed during a demonstration at Fort Myer, Va., seriously injuring pilot Orville Wright and killing the observer, U.S. Army Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge. Selfridge's death was a severe blow, for through his experiments with Alexander Graham Bell, he had gained great technical knowledge and knew
  • 1909 -- First Air Arm Flying School

    After their plane passed the final flight performance tests, conducted from July 27 to 30 1909, the Wrights as part of their contract with the government had to train two Army officers as pilots. The officers selected to receive flight training were Lts. Frank P. Lahm and Fredric E. Humphreys. Instruction began on Oct. 8, 1909, at College Park, Md.
  • 1923 -- The Beginnings of Inflight Refueling

    The air service first demonstrated inflight refueling in June 25, 1923, and in August of that year Lts. Lowell H. Smith and John P. Richter set a new world's record by staying aloft for 37 hours and 15 minutes in a DH-4 over San Diego with the help of refueling from another DH-4.
  • 1926 -- The U.S. Army Air Corps Act

    The Lassiter Board, a group of General Staff officers, recommended to the Secretary of War in 1923 that a force of bombardment and pursuit units be created to carry out independent missions under the command of an Army general headquarters in time of war. The Lampert Committee of the House of Representatives went far beyond this modest proposal in its report to the House in December 1925. After eleven months of extensive hearings, the committee proposed a unified air force independent of the Army and Navy, plus a department of defense to coordinate the three armed services.
  • 1935 -- The General Headquarters Air Force

    In October 1933, a War Department board headed by Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Hugh A. Drum, reviewed the Air Corps proposal and endorsed the idea of a GHQ Air Force, although it did not accept the emphasis placed on air power by the Air Corps. The Air Corps had recommended a GHQ Air Force comprised of bombardment, attack, and pursuit planes under its control to provide coastal defense. The Drum Board suggested that the force be used for tactical and strategic operations, including attacks on major installations in enemy territory.
  • 1942 - Doolittle's Raid

    Early in WWII, Lt. Colonel James Doolittle and his crews fly B-25 bombers off navy carriers in raid to Japan.
  • 1943 - Operation Tidalwave, the Low-level bombing of the Ploesti Oil Refineries, 1 August 1943

    Operation Tidalwave, low level bombing mission over Ploesti, WWII
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