Learn more about key innovators and technologies in the early history of aviation, from early flight experimentation and the invention of the hot air balloon in the late eighteenth century to the era of dirigibles and airships spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Pioneering Pilots, 1900-1940
Meet the pilots whose accomplishments propelled aviation forward in the early twentieth century, from trailblazers like Charles and Wilbur Wright and Katherine Stinson, to record-breakers like Roscoe Turner and Wiley Post, to activists like Dale S. White, Jr., who flew to protest racial discrimination in flight training.
Explore the history of the rise of flying as entertainment—the barnstorming acts, stunt flying, and air racing that have dazzled audiences since the late nineteenth century. Learn how early twentieth century pilots and performers began pushing the boundaries of what was possible, from the quaint and quirky to the daring and dangerous.
Take off with pilots and paratroopers to explore how the invention of flight has changed the military. Aviation technology on the front lines and the home front shaped how nations fight wars and maintain peace. From the balloons of the Civil War to the drones of modern warfare, military aviation has supported and protected armed forces.
Traveling by Air
Discover how aviation transformed travel, bringing the far reaches of the world into easier reach, forging new professions and practices in the airline industry, and inspiring innovation in technology and advertising to meet the needs of a growing population of air travelers.
Aviation on the Ground
Find out more about the aviation work at airports that supported flights and airlines, from ticket sales to plane mechanics and safety to baggage handling. As airplane crashes shocked the world, learn about the ways they changed airport practices over time.
Topic curated by Franky Abbott and Samantha Gibson, Digital Public Library of America