Louis Bleriot: First aviator to cross the English Channel in a powered aircraft

Louis Bleriot was a French aviator, inventor and engineer who was famous for his flight across the English Channel. Even before this ground breaking flight, Louis had already made a name through his invention of the first practical headlamps. Louis taught himself the principles of flight and designed orinthopters and gliders which he tested out. Through trial and error, he designed the tail surfaces which have become conventional and his company Recherches Aeronautiques Louis Bleriot is credited as being the inventors of the monoplane.

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Microburst

Continental Airlines: First airlines equipped with predictive windshear detection system

Wind shears are a rapid change in the wind speed and/or direction in either the horizontal or vertical direction. Low-level wind shears are especially dangerous as the pilots have about five to fifteen seconds to react. The rapid changes in the wind causes rapidly changing headwind and tailwind, strong side gusts and affect the lift produced by the wings.

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Ely Eugene

Ely Eugene: First pilot to perform a ship board launch

As Eugene became airborne from the cruiser, the Birmingham sent a historic radio message “Ely’s just gone”

Ely  Eugene, a Iowa University graduate who had taught himself to fly in 1910, boarded his curtiss pusher biplane which was placed on a makeshift wooden surface on the American light cruiser USS Birmingham in November 14, 1910. In the mid-afternoon, the weather cleared slightly and the biplane rolled of the sloped platform into air. The biplane was equipped with floats under the wings in case Eugene had to make a landing on the water. Eugene, who was part of the Curtiss Exhibition team, instinctively caused the plane to dive as the plane left the platform in order to gain speed but he miscalculated slightly causing the plane to skip off the water, thereby splintering the propeller and splashing water over his goggles. Even flying blind, Eugene managed to land his crippled plane at a nearby beach which was under 3 miles away. Although, he only was airborne for under 5 minutes, his historic flight proved the importance of aviation in naval warfare.

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China Airlines A300

China Airlines Ltd.: First airline to operate the advanced Boeing 767 and Airbus A300B4 widebodies simultaneously

China Airlines, based in the Republic of Taiwan, was set up by a group of retired Chinese Air Force Officers beginning with two PBY-5A Catalina flying boats and 26 employees. The company, setup in 1959, carried out military roles before acquiring  a few demilitarized C-47 and C-46 transports which was used to ferry passengers around the island. The airlines started its first international flight route to Saigon, Vietnam and catered to the Japanese tourists with flights from Japan to Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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Vickers Vimy Alcock and Brown

John Alcock and Arthur Brown: First non-stop transatlantic flight

Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown made the first non-stop aerial crossing of the Atlantic in a modified Vickers Vimy powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle 360 hp engines. They took off from Lester’s Field, near St. John, Newfoundland on June 14,1919 and landed June 15,1919 at Clifden, Ireland thereby winning the Daily Mail Atlantic Prize and writing their names in the history books.

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Trans World Airlines

Trans World Airlines: First airline to operate across the Atlantic without a professional navigator

On October 1, 1962, Trans world Airlines (TWA) inaugurated the first fully automatic doppler radar system of navigation on scheduled transatlantic flights. The New York to London flight held the honour of being the first transatlantic flight to operate without a professional navigator as part of the flight crew.

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Trans International Airlines: First airline to operate a Douglas DC-10 all-cargo flight

Trans International Airlines (TIA) was a non-scheduled Charter Airlines that operated regular charter flights between the US and Europe and saw service briefly in the Vietnam War. The airline, acquired by Entertainment and travel mogul Kirk Kerkorian, was riding the postwar boom in commercial aviation as a sea of former air force pilots and demilitarised aircraft flooded the civilian industry. It held the honour of being the world’s largest charter airline with the acquisition of Saturn Airways in December 1979.

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Pan American Airways (PAA) First airline to offer through passenger service to Argentina down the coast of South America

During the administration of Calvin Coolidge, the US government looked to Pan Am as an extension of US foreign policy which would allow economic expansion into Latin America and the Caribbean. The US government “awarded Pan Am every foreign airmail route for with bids were invited”. The success of Pan Am was largely attributed to the diplomatic genius of the company’s founder and visionary, Juan Trippe, and the Foreign Mail Act. This Act, passed with the purpose of regulating the international mail service, stipulated that only airlines capable of operating with scale while upholding the dignity of the United States would be allowed to  carry mail. Not only that, the Act stated that contracts would only be granted to companies that were given invitations by Latin American Countries. Trippe maintained good relations with leaders of these countries thereby securing air routes.

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