In 1939, former president Franklin D. Roosevelt decided that the nation should honor the growth and developments being made in aviation and declared August 19th National Aviation Day.
What better way to celebrate than to go back to how it all started and how long it has come! At Valley International Airport, we’re going to spill all the fun facts on aviation and how it came to be the billion dollar industry that it is today.
1914: The First of Many Flights
After four years of research and design, Orville and Wilbur Wright took a 120 foot, 12 second flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This became the first machine-powered flight, as gliders and hot air balloons were the only form of flight before this. It seems only fitting that we celebrate both Orville Wright’s birthday along with National Aviation Day.
Thomas Benoist, the owner of an auto parts store, started building planes based on the designs made by Glenn Curtiss. He successfully made a model called the Benoist Type XII, which later turned into the flying boat; this seaplane allowed him to take off and land on water.
A.C. Pheil, the former St. Petersburg Mayor, was the first passenger to make the 18 mile trip in 23 minutes in the flying boat. After this success, Benoist started the world’s first scheduled passenger airline service, flying one passenger at a time for a $5 fare. This continued on for four months before ending with the winter tourist season.
The Start of Commercial Aviation
Although aviation was building up steam, people were still wary of this new form of travel. After World War 1, production had increased tremendously, and the value of the aircraft was gaining recognition.
Commercial aviation was difficult to get going, as the war caused the public to see aircrafts being used solely for bombing, surveillance, and aerial dogfights.
In the year 1917, the U.S. government decided to make use of aircrafts in a new way⸺for airmail. Congress allotted $100,000 (which is equivalent to about $2.1 million USD now) for the Army and Post Office to work together in an experimental airmail service.
The route initially started from Washington to New York and later went transcontinental from Chicago to Cleveland. By implementing airplanes, the Post Office cut mail deliveries down 22 hours for coast-to-coast deliveries.
1927: The First Trans-Atlantic Non-Stop Flight
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh set out on the first trans-atlantic non-stop flight from New York to Paris, totalling 33 hours and 29 minutes. This successful flight drew in millions of dollars from private investors and gained the attention and support of many Americans. This sparked what would later become The Air Age.
1930: Aircraft Innovations Made
Commercial airlines were still having a difficult time encouraging people to travel by planes instead of by trains. They began making innovations for safer and faster flights such as replacing water-cooled engines with air-cooled ones, reducing the weight of the aircraft and improving cockpit instruments for greater visibility and communication.
1939: World War II and Aviation
The war may have brought with it many advances to the aircrafts, but it also spurred the need for the mass production of aircrafts. Aircrafts were responsible for the transport of troops and supplies from home to the front and back. In response to this, airlines had more business from passengers and freight manufacturers.
1941: The Jet Engine
British pilot, Frank Whittle and German physicist, Hans von Ohain both worked separately yet almost simultaneously on the invention and production of the jet engine. Due to military secrecy, no one knew that Ohain’s was the first to fly and Frank Whittle’s engine was the first to be patented and used publicly. Both engines innovated air travel by providing high speeds while maintaining reliable air transportation.
1958: The Federal Aviation Act
As the industry grew, the skies became too crowded, causing many mid-air collisions. Congress acted on this and passed The Federal Aviation Act of 1958. They then followed suit and created The Federal Aviation Agency, later called The Federal Aviation Administration. They were responsible for running a broad air traffic control system to maintain safe separation of all incoming and outgoing commercial aircrafts.
1969: The Boeing 747
This aircraft made its debut in 1969, becoming the first wide-body jet later nicknamed “The Jumbo Jet”. The Boeing 747 was a very versatile aircraft. Its upper deck could be used for extra seating as a passenger aircraft or used to hold more cargo as a freight aircraft.
Celebrate National Aviation Day By Booking a Flight With Valley International Airport Now!
Over the years that aviation has grown and developed, America has kissed the clouds and embraced this form of travel as their primarily preferred method, and your Harlingen airport has grown right along with it!
With plenty of flights available to take you to your dream destination, now is the time to book a flight. We make sure every safety precaution necessary is followed to ensure that passengers are safe before and after they get on or off the aircraft, solidifying the airline industry’s reputation of being the safest way to travel.
Satisfaction. Destinations. Delivered. Valley International Airport.