Aviation History

Aviation Timeline: 1800 – 1850


5 July – André-Jacques Garnerin and Edward Hawke Locker make a 17-mile (27.4 km) balloon flight from Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London, England, to Chingford in just over 15 minutes.

2 December – An unmanned illuminated balloon is launched from the front of Notre Dame de Paris during the Coronation of Napoleon I.


British Rear Admiral Charles Knowles proposes to the Admiralty that the Royal Navy loft an observation balloon from a ship in order to reconnoitre French preparations for the invasion of Britain in Brest. The proposal is ignored.

18 July – Etienne Gaspar Robertson and his copilot Lhoest ascend from Hamburg, Germany, to an altitude of around 7,300 m (24,000 ft) in a balloon.

3–4 October – André-Jacques Garnerin covers a distance of 395 km (245 mi) from Paris, France, to Clausen, Germany.

7–8 October – Francesco Zambeccari and Pasquale Andreoli make a balloon flight which crashes into the Adriatic Sea.


Sir George Cayley builds a model glider with a main wing and separate, adjustable vertical and horizontal tail surfaces.

August/September – The scientists Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Jean Baptiste Biot use a balloon to conduct experiments on the earth’s magnetic field and the composition of the upper atmosphere.

23 August – Francesco Zambeccari and Pasquale Andreoli make a second balloon flight which crashes into the Adriatic Sea.


Lord Cochrane flies kites from the Royal Navy 32-gun frigate HMS Pallas to spread propaganda leaflets along the coast of France. It is the first use of an aerial device in European maritime warfare.


Jakob Degen, a clock maker from Vienna, experiments with an ornithopter with flap-valve wings.


Degen propels a hydrogen-filled balloon by flapping large ornithopter-style wings.

September – Sir George Cayley publishes the first part of his seminal paper On Aerial Navigation, setting out for the first time the scientific principles of heavier-than-air flight.


31 May – Albrecht Berblinger crashes a hang glider (possibly a copy of Degen’s into the Danube. A reproduction built according to the design drawing in 1986 is capable of flight.

Harris jumps from his balloon to save his fiancée. Illustration from the late 19th Century.


21 September – Francesco Zambeccari dies when his balloon catches fire on landing.


6 July – Sophie Blanchard launches fireworks from her balloon in flight during an exhibition at the Tivoli Gardens in Paris. The fireworks ignite the gas in the balloon, which crashes on the roof of a house. She falls to her death, becoming the first woman to die in an aviation accident.


Englishman Thomas Harris dies when his balloon crashes near Carshalton. His female passenger survives. The exact cause is not determined but is apparently due to a valve Harris has designed to release gas from the balloon becoming stuck open. Despite dropping all ballast Harris is unable to stop a precipitous plunge.


7–8 November – Flight of a coal gas balloon (named The Great Balloon of Nassau) by Charles Green covering 722 km (449 mi) from London to Weilburg, Germany, in 18 hours with passengers Robert Hollond and Thomas Monck Mason.[11] It is the first overnight balloon flight,[12][13] and it sets a world ballooning distance record that will stand until 1907 in aviation#1907.


Robert Cocking jumps from a balloon piloted by Charles Green at a height of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) to demonstrate a parachute of his own design, and is killed in the attempt.


4 September – Charles Green, George Rush, and Edward Spencer ascend to an altitude of 19,335 feet (5,893 meters) over England in the Great Balloon of Nassau before landing at Thaxted.

10 September – Green and Rush ascend to a world record altitude of 27,146 feet (8,274 meters) over England in the Great Balloon of Nassau, reaching speeds of 80 to 100 mph (130 to 160 km/hr) during the flight.


The American John Wise introduces the ripping panel which is still used today. The panel solved the problem of the balloon dragging along the ground at landing and needing to be stopped with the help of anchors. Charles Green and the astronomer Spencer Rush ascend to 7,900 m (25,900 ft) in a free balloon.

Francisque Arban is rescued by Italian fishermen, 1846.


Louis Anslem Lauriat makes the first manned flight in Canada, at Saint John, New Brunswick, in his balloon Star of the East.


An ironsmith kalfa (journeyman) named Manojlo who “came to Belgrade from Vojvodina”[17] attempts to fly an ornithopter. Forbidden to take off from the belfry of St. Michael’s Cathedral by the authorities, he clandestinely climbs to the rooftop of the Đumrukhana (Import Tax Head Office) and jumps off, landing in a heap of snow and surviving.


November – English engineer William Samuel Henson makes the first complete drawing of a power-driven aeroplane with steam-engine drive. The patent follows the works of Cayley. The English House of Commons rejects the motion for the formation of an “Aerial Transport Company” with great laughter.


William Samuel Henson and John Stringfellow file articles of incorporation for the world’s first air transport company, the Aerial Transit Company


William Samuel Henson and John Stringfellow build a steam-powered model aircraft, with a wingspan of 10 ft (3.0 m).


French balloonist Francisque Arban makes his twelfth flight from Rome in April, and is rescued from the sea after a flight from Trieste later in the year.


John Stringfellow flies a powered monoplane model a few dozen feet in a powered glide at an exhibition at Cremorne Gardens in London.


12–25 July – While blockading Venice, the Austrian Navy launches unmanned hot-air balloons equipped with explosive charges from the deck of the steamship Vulcano in an attempt to bombard Venice. Although the experiment is unsuccessful, it is both the first use of balloons for bombardment and the first time a warship makes offensive use of an aerial device.

2–3 September – French balloonist Francisque Arban makes the first (and until 1924 only) balloon flight over the Alps, flying a hydrogen balloon from Marseille to Turin.

7 October – Francisque Arban takes off from Barcelona, but his balloon is blown over the Mediterranean Sea and is lost.

Sir George Cayley launches a 10-year-old boy in a small glider being towed by a team of people running down a hill. This is the first known flight by a person in a heavier-than-air machine.


24 September – French engineer Henri Giffard flies 27 km (17 mi) from the Paris Hippodrome to Trappes in a steam-powered dirigible,[22] reaching a speed of about 10 km/h (6.2 mph).


Late June or early July – Sir George Cayley’s coachman successfully flies a glider, designed by his employer, some proportion of the distance across Brompton Dale in Yorkshire, becoming the world’s first adult aeroplane pilot.[23] Unimpressed with this honour, the coachman promptly resigns his employment.


December – French Captain Jean Marie Le Bris is towed into the air in his Artificial Albatross glider, flying 600 ft (180 m).


Félix Du Temple flies clockwork and steam-powered model aircraft, the first sustained powered flights by heavier-than-air machines.

French brothers du Temple de la Croix apply after successful attempts with models for a patent for a power-driven aeroplane.


John Wise and three companions complete a Montgolfière flight over a distance of 802 miles (1,291 km), (St. Louis – Henderson, USA).

French airman Nadar takes the first aerial photographs.