A Very Brief History of Commercial Aviation

The commercial airliners you see flying over Dayton, OH today are nothing like they used to be. Clunky hunks of metal have transformed into sleek, high-flying jets that can take you all over the world. While it would impossible to summarize the entirety of airplane history in this small space, here are some of the first flights that forever revolutionized the industry.

The very first flight

By the dawn of the 20th century, many inventors had made feeble attempts to get off the ground. It wasn’t until the Wright brothers made a name for themselves in the aviation world that airplanes really began to take flight. The brothers observed inventions by fellow aviator Samuel Langley and discovered the trick was less about power at takeoff and more about controlling the airplane in the sky. Finally, in 1903, the historic moment took place: Orville Wright kept his airplane aloft for 59 seconds, a feat unheard of back in the day.

Commercial airline debut

A good amount of time passed before the world was ready for commercialized aircraft. Eleven years later, pilot Tony Jannus flew a crowd of passengers from Tampa to St. Petersburg. Their flight was a short 16 nautical miles, a trip that wouldn’t take more than half an hour by car. In 1914, commercial airlines were still considered a novelty rather than a part of everyday life. Even though the voyage is nothing compared to modern air travel, it serves as a pivotal moment in airplane history.

Journey across the Atlantic

Pan American World Airways is accredited for being one of the first airliners to transport passengers across the Atlantic Ocean. The Yankee Clipper, amusingly known as the “flying boat,” turned out to have a very fitting nickname because it successfully traversed thousands of nautical miles to land safely in the United Kingdom. Pan Am’s Yankee Clipper forever changed the course of airplane history by making it possible to visit other regions of the world.

Going international with jets

After the first flight in commercial airline history, inventors made a series of breakthroughs with elevating planes higher into the sky as well as with passengers’ flying experiences in Dayton, OH and all across the states. Fast forward to the 1950s, and all of a sudden more people are travelling by air than railroad tracks. In 1952, the de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the first jet airliner to go international. It flew from London to Johannesburg, setting the standard for future jets that would reach all corners of the Earth.

Boeing 747

1970 was the year passengers first boarded the Boeing 747 in the United States. Its maiden flight took patrons from New York to London via Pan American World Airways. The infamous Boeing 747 was known for seating more passengers than ever before, nearly cutting the cost of flight tickets in half. Gone were the days of reserving commercial air travel for the wealthiest citizens, celebrities and royalty.

Commercial aviation has advanced lightyears since the Wright brothers first left the ground. New aircraft inventions skyrocketed throughout the 20th century and will continue to do so far into the future. To see what’s available today, check out the aircraft rentals at First Flight Aviation. Our fleet is conveniently local to Dayton, OH and will take you to new heights.

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