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November is Aviation History Month

November 10, 2021

November marks Aviation History Month, a holiday mainly celebrated in America that is dedicated to learning about the history of aircrafts. The celebratory month began as a single day, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt set August 19th as Aviation History Day in 1939. However, with the industry's expansion and numerous technological advancements, the holiday was eventually extended to a full month. 

There are plenty of ways to educate yourself on humanity's journey into the field of aviation, such as watching documentaries, heading to aviation museums, and of course, reading blogs such as this!

According to nationaltoday.com, aviation "started in 350 B.C. when the Chinese began making kites using bamboo frames covered in paper and silk." Watching objects we had created take to the skies, humans were awe-inspired and determined to lift ourselves into the air.

We can attribute the modern aviation technologies of parachutes and helicopters to Leonardo da Vinci’s early designs, leading to the first version of the glider in 1799, built by Englishman Sir George Cayley. Of course, aviation as we know it didn’t truly “take flight” until the early 20th century.

In December of 1903, famed Wright brothers Orville and Wilbur "succeeded in flying the first free, controlled flight of a power-driven, heavier than air plane" when "Wilbur flew their plane for 59 seconds, over a distance of 852 feet"1. Just 11 years later, the first commercial flight would be made between St. Petersburg and Tampa2.

Only a few years after the Wright Brothers' succeeded with their invention, aircrafts became more commonplace and many of the names we associate with early flight entered the industry. Frenchwoman Raymonde de Laroche became the first licensed female pilot on March 8th of 1910, and Amelia Earhart became a true American trailblazer for women in the aviation industry, after completing the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932.

In 1916, the French instated the first African American pilot, an American-born military man named Eugene Jacques Bullard. Almost 40 years after Bullard's flight, and in response to early signs of another World War, President Theodore Roosevelt announced that the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC), now called the U.S. Air Force, would train Black pilots after much urging by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Soon after, the AAC instated the "Tuskegee Experiment," training around 1,000 pilots and "nearly 14,000 navigators, bombardiers, instructors, aircraft and engine mechanics, control tower operators and other maintenance and support staff" at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama3. This highly decorated group eventually called the Tuskegee Airmen, defied raciest thoughts that people of color couldn't learn to pilot aircrafts. Collectively, the Airmen earned over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, flew in over 15,000 deployments in two years in combat, and "destroyed or damaged 36 German planes in the air and 237 on the ground, as well as nearly 1,000 rail cars and transport vehicles and a German destroyer."3

The aviation field has only ever grown, and has become a strong, lucrative career choice. There are many aviator-based positions according to the Federal Aviation Administration, with jobs such as air traffic control specialist, airway transportation systems specialists, and aviation safety inspectors making average yearly salaries of $127,000, $76,000, and $96,000 respectively.

Humans over time have conquered the airways, designing common travel across the skies to create a new breed of interconnectivity across nations and bring us to new heights as a species. The bulk of aviation innovation may have been made in the 20th century, but we still consistently seek ways to improve our place in the clouds.

Capitol Tech offers many degrees in aviation and unmanned systems at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels to provide students with the knowledge necessary to pursue rewarding careers in the field. Many courses are available both on campus and online. For more information, contact admissions@captechu.edu.

Resources

  1. History. (2020, November 13). Wright Brothers. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/wright-brothers.
  2. Sharp, T. (2018, May 22). World’s First Commercial Airline | The Greatest Moments in Flight. Retrieved from https://www.space.com/16657-worlds-first-commercial-airline-the-greatest-moments-in-flight.html.
  3. History. (2021, January 6). Tuskegee Airmen. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/tuskegee-airmen.