Monday, March 9, 2009

Major success in 1909

Throughout the winter and spring — The Wrights fly for royalty all over Europe, launching their airplane from France and Italy.

February 19 -- Glenn Curtiss and Augustus Herring incorporate the Herring-Curtiss Company to manufacture airplanes. They have no intention of licensing the Wright patents.

May-April -- In France Henry Farman develops a biplane that uses ailerons to control roll. It is the first practical European airplane with ailerons.

June 16 -- Glenn Curtiss delivers the Golden Flier to the Aeronautic Society of New York. It is the first commercially-sold airplane in America.

June 29 to July 30 -- The Wrights deliver their new Military Flyer to the U.S. Army Signal Corps at Fort Meyer, Virginia, and put it through the required trials. The Army accepts the flying machine and becomes the first military aircraft in the world.

July 17 -- Glenn Curtiss flies 25 miles in the Golden Flier to win the Scientific American Trophy for a second year in a row.

July 25 -- Louis Bleriot crosses the English Channel in a Bleriot XI monoplane. This has an enormous psychological effect around the world because it shows that natural physical boundaries that had protected nations for millennia can be crossed easily by airplane.

August 22 to 29 -- 22 pilots from all over the world converge on the old French cathedral city of Rheims for the first-ever aviation meet. There are hundreds of flights over seven days, and one spectator, David Lloyd George (who would later become Prime Minister of England, remarks, "Flying machines are no longer toys and dreams; they are an established fact."

August 27 -- Farman makes the first flight of over 100 miles and wins the contest for endurance flying at Rheims.

August 29 -- Curtiss comes in first in the speed contest at Rheims, capturing the Gordon Bennett Cup and setting a new world's speed record of 46.5 miles per hour.

September 7 -- Eugene Lefebvre dies while testing a new French-built Wright airplane. He is the first pilot to die at the controls of his craft.

October 2 -- Orville Wright makes the first fight above 1000 feet in altitude.

September 30 to October 4 -- For the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in New York, Wilbur Wright circles the Statue of Liberty and flies up the Hudson River to Grant's Tomb and back. Over a million people see him fly.

October 6 to November 2 -- Wilbur Wright trains Lieutenants Frank Lahm and Fredrick Humphreys to fly at College Park, Maryland. They become the first U.S. military pilots.

November 22 -- Orville and Wilbur Wright incorporate the Wright Company to manufacture airplanes. The company is backed by New York financiers, including Delancy Nicoll, Cornelius Vanderbilt, August Belmont, Morton Plant, Thomas F. Ryan, Theodore P. Shonts, Russel Alger, and Robert Collier.

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