1485 Leonardo da Vinci


Leonardo da Vinci made the first real studies of flight in the 1480's. He had over 100 drawings that illustrated his theories on flight.

The Ornithopter flying machine was never actually created. It was a design that Leonardo da Vinci created to show how man could fly. The modern day helicopter is based on this concept.

1783 - Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier


The brothers, Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier, were inventors of the first hot air balloon. They used the smoke from a fire to blow hot air into a silk bag. The silk bag was attached to a basket. The hot air then rose and allowed the balloon to be lighter-than-air.

In 1783, the first passengers in the colorful balloon were a sheep, rooster and duck. It climbed to a height of about 6,000 feet and traveled more than 1 mile.

After this first success, the brothers began to send men up in balloons. The first manned flight was on November 21, 1783, the passengers were Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent.

1799 - 1850's - George Cayley

1799 - 1850

George Cayley worked to discover a way that man could fly. He designed many different versions of gliders that used the movements of the body to control. A young boy, whose name is not known, was the first to fly one of his gliders.

Over 50 years he made improvements to the gliders. He changed the shape of the wings so that the air would flow over the wings correctly. He designed a tail for the gliders to help with the stability. He tried a biplane design to add strength to the glider. He also recognized that there would be a need for power if the flight was to be in the air for a long time.

1840 Louis Anselm Lauriat


In August 1840 at Saint John, New Brunswick, Louis Anselm Lauriat became the first person to complete a balloon ascent in Canada, which he did in his balloon Star of the East.

1856 Eugène Godard


On September 8, 1856, French aeronaut, Eugène Godard, operating a balloon called Canada (the first aircraft ever constructed in Canada), piloted the country's first successful passenger flight, carrying three passengers from Montreal to Pointe-Olivier, Quebec.

1891 Otto Lilientha


German engineer, Otto Lilienthal, studied aerodynamics and worked to design a glider that would fly. He was the first person to design a glider that could fly a person and was able to fly long distances.

He was fascinated by the idea of flight. Based on his studies of birds and how they fly, he wrote a book on aerodynamics that was published in 1889 and this text was used by the Wright Brothers as the basis for their designs.

After more than 2500 flights, he was killed when he lost control because of a sudden strong wind and crashed into the ground.

1891 Samuel P. Langley


Samuel Langley was an astronomer, who realized that power was needed to help man fly. He built a model of a plane, which he called an aerodrome, that included a steam-powered engine. In 1891, his model flew for 3/4s of a mile before running out of fuel.

Langley received a $50,000 grant to build a full sized aerodrome. It was too heavy to fly and it crashed. He was very disappointed. He gave up trying to fly. His major contributions to flight involved attempts at adding a power plant to a glider. He was also well known as the director of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

1902 Rupert Turnbull


Rupert Turnbull built the first wind tunnel in Canada in 1902.

1903 The Wright Brothers


Orville and Wilbur Wright were very deliberate in their quest for flight. First, they read about all the early developments of flight. They decided to make "a small contribution" to the study of flight control by twisting their wings in flight. Then they began to test their ideas with a kite. They learned about how the wind would help with the flight and how it could affect the surfaces once up in the air.
hey designed and used a wind tunnel to test the shapes of the wings and the tails of the gliders. In 1902, with a perfected glider shape, they turned their attention to how to create a propulsion system that would create the thrust needed to fly.

The early engine that they designed generated almost 12 horsepower. That's the same power as two hand-propelled lawn mower engines!
The "Flyer" lifted from level ground to the north of Big Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina, at 10:35 a.m., on December 17, 1903. Orville piloted the plane which weighed about six hundred pounds.

The first heavier-than-air flight traveled one hundred twenty feet in twelve seconds. The two brothers took turns flying that day with the fourth and last flight covering 850 feet in 59 seconds. But the Flyer was unstable and very hard to control.

The brothers returned to Dayton, Ohio, where they worked for two more years perfecting their design. Finally, on October 5, 1905, Wilbur piloted the Flyer III for 39 minutes and about 24 miles of circles around Huffman Prairie. He flew the first practical airplane until it ran out of gas.

1906 C.K. Hamilton


The first power-driven dirigible flight in Canada was completed by C. K. Hamilton at Montreal in 1906.

1907 Alexander Graham Bell


Bell cofounded the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) with his wife, Mabel, in the fall of 1907. The AEA was the first to publicly break flying records already claimed to have been set by the Wright brothers in secrecy, causing the Wright brothers to recognize Bell's team as serious competition.

Bell became one of the world's first aviation accident investigators, not only studying problems but also formulating solutions. His passion for flight, scientific and commercial experience, along with his mentorship, inspired aeronautical research and directly contributed to the further development of ailerons and other technological innovations, as well as the first powered flight in Canada, the establishment of the first Canadian aircraft company, and the first aircraft designed and built in Canada.

1908 F.W. Baldwin


Baldwin was the first Canadian to fly.

1909 John Alexander Douglas McCurdy


The first powered heavier-than-air flight in Canada occurred on Bras d'Or Lake at Baddeck, Nova Scotia on February 23, 1909, when John Alexander Douglas McCurdy piloted the AEA Silver Dart over a flight of less than 1 kilometer.

1910 Grace Mackenzie


Grace Mackenzie, daughter of Sir William Mackenzie and her sisters became the first Canadian women to fly.

1911 Harriet Quimby


Harriet Quimby was the first woman to get a Pilot's Licence.

1921 Bessie Coleman


She was the first woman of African-American descent, and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot license. She achieved her international pilot license in 1921.

1930 Jean Batten


Jean Batten was a New Zealand aviatrix. During the 1930s, she was well known for taking a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world.

She took her first solo flight in 1930 and gained private and commercial licences by 1932. Jean made two unsuccessful attempts to beat English aviatrix Amy Johnson’s time to fly from England to Australia. She succeeded in 1934, in a Gipsy Moth, making a solo trip of 14 days and 22 hours, beating Amy by 4 days. For this and other record-breaking achievements, Jean was awarded the Harmon Trophy three times from 1935 through to 1937.

After her first Australia flight, Jean bought a Percival Gull Six monoplane, G-ADPR, which was named Jean. In 1935, she set a world record flying from England to Brazil in the Gull, for which she was presented the Order of the Southern Cross. In 1936, she set another world record with a solo flight from England to New Zealand.

At her birthplace in Rotorua, local Māori honoured her. She was given a chief’s feather cloak and the title Hine o te Rangi (Daughter of the Skies). Jean was created Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1936, and she was also given the Cross of the French Legion of Honour that year.

In 1938, Jean was the first woman to be awarded the medal of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale – aviation’s highest honour.

1937 Amelia Earhart


Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean

1997 Kalpana Chawla


Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal, India. She was the first Indian-American astronaut and first Indian woman in space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. In 2003, Chawla was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.