International Civil Aviation Day: List of firsts in civil aviation history

Updated: 08 December, 2015 10:42 IST | A Correspondent |

The civil aviation sector has grown by leaps and bounds since the past century. On International Civil Aviation Day, we look at some landmark moments and people that made this possible...

The first commercial flight: The first-ever commercial flight took place on January 1, 1914 in the United States. Piloted by Tony Jannus was a Benoist XIV, two seater with a very small flight deck. Jannus was accompanied by his one paying passenger, Abram C. Pheil, former mayor of St. Petersburg. It flew for 23 minutes at an altitude of 15 feet between St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Tony Jannus
Tony Jannus and Raymonde de Laroche. Pic/YouTube

First commercial airline: American salesman Percival Elliott Fansler, who arranged for the first-ever successful commercial flight piloted by Tony Jannus, operations began on the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, considered to be a first-ever commercial airline route. It operated for nearly four months, carrying a total of 1,205 passengers. Two flights daily for six days a week costing USD 5 per person and USD 5 per 100 pounds of freight were made till April 27, 1914.

Cal Rodgers
Cal Rodgers. Pic/YouTube

The first transcontinental flight: American pilot Calbraith Perry Rodgers aka Cal Rodgers made the first transcontinental airplane flight across the U.S. from September 17, 1911, to November 5, 1911. It was in response to newspaper editor William Randolph Hearst's USD 50,000 prize offering to the first person, who fly an aircraft coast to coast within a month.

Cal Rodgers
Cal Rodgers and his aircraft. Pic/YouTube

Cal Rodgers
Cal Rodgers and his aircraft. Pic/YouTube

Rodgers used a modified Wright Flyer called an EX, which was flimsy, didn't contain a cockpit and could fly only reach speeds of 50-60 miles per hour. His journey was not a smooth one and he did not complete the flight within the given time limit. Cal Rodgers made the 4000 mile journey from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn to Pasadena, California after 70 stops, numerous injuries, and 86 hours in the air.

Raymonde De Laroche
Raymonde De Laroche. Pic/YouTube

First woman to receive an airline pilot's licence: French aviator Raymonde de Laroche became the first woman in the world to receive a pilot licence on 8 March 1910, when the Aero-Club of France issued her licence #36 of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (International Aeronautics Federation or F.A.I.). Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week is held annually on this day in commemoration of the anniversary of Laroche receiving her pilot's licence.

First woman to pilot an aircraft: French sculptor and aviator Thérèse Peltier has the honour of being known as the first woman to pilot a heavier-than-air craft. made a solo flight of 200 metres at a height of 2.5 metres at the Military Square in Turin, Italy.

JRD Tata
JRD Tata

First Indian commercial airline pilot: French-born Indian aviator and business tycoon, Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata aka J.R.D Tata, who was inspired to take up flying by aviation pioneer Louis Blériot, became India's first licensed pilot in 1929. The Bharat Ratna awardee is considered the father of Indian civil aviation.

Also read: When the first Air India flight took to the skies, 83 years ago

First commercial Indian airline: India's first licenced pilot, industrialist J. R. D. Tata is also credited with beginninig the first-ever commerical Indian airline venture, Air India, which was then known as Tata Airlines in 1932. Tata collaborated with South African aviator and friend Nevill Vintcent in building the airline. Tata flew its first single-engine De Havilland Puss Moth, carrying air mail from Karachi to Bombay, and later continuing to Madras. The airline was later renamed to Air India in 1946. Tata launched Air India International as India's first international airline in 1948.

Sarla Thakral
Sarla Thakral. Pic/YouTube

First female Indian pilot: Sarla Thakral became the first Indian woman to pilot an aircraft in 1936 at the age of 21. She flew a De Havilland Gipsy Moth aircraft solo and proceeded to complete 1000 hours of flying in the plane, which was owned by the Lahore Flying Club. This enabled her to become the first woman pilot to obtain 'A’ license. She was also the first Indian to get airmail pilot's licence.

What is International Civil Aviation Day
International Civil Aviation Day is observed annually on December 7 to commemorate the the 50th anniversary of the signing the Convention on International Civil Aviation, a specialized agency of the United Nations charged with coordinating and regulating international air travel.

First Published: 07 December, 2015 10:16 IST

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