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Transportation Milestones

Milestones in Transportation

The past decades have carried America through an evolution in transportation as our love affair with cars deepened and as we took to the skies. The following is a list of milestones that have occurred since the birth of our nation.
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Did You Know?

1807 – First commercial steamboat

Robert Fulton, an American engineer and inventor, dreamed about creating a steamboat that would journey the Hudson River. On August 17, 1807, Fulton’s boat, the Clermont, was launched on a trial run from New York City to Albany and back.
  • The Clermont was 150-feet long and 13-feet wide, drawing 2-feet of water

1903 – First powered, controlled and sustained flight

Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton, Ohio, flying their “Wright Flyer” near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, achieve the first powered, heavier-than-air, controlled and sustained flight with a pilot on board.
  • Orville and Wilbur tossed a coin to determine which brother would make the first attempt. Wilbur won and climbed into the pilot’s position.
  • The first flight on Dec. 17 landed 120 feet from where it had taken off and lasted only 12 seconds
  • The Wright brothers took 4 flights that day at Kitty Hawk. Each flight lasted only a few seconds.

1908 – Henry Ford creates the first successful automobile assembly line

  • Henry Ford created the Model T vehicle in 1902 to be used by the everyday man at an affordable price
  • The assembly of the Model T was broken into 84 distinct steps and made from about 5,000 parts!
  • In 1903, Ford Motor Company produced only three cars a day and had up to three men working on each car
  • In 1913, Ford Motor Company was able to build a car in just 93 minutes, producing around 1 million vehicles a year (one every 24 seconds)

1922 – Bessie Coleman became the world’s first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license, breaking racial and gender barriers.

  • Bessie was unable to receive her pilot’s license in the United States, so she joined a flight school in France
  • She completed her training in just 7 months at the Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation

1927 – First solo, non-stop transatlantic flight

Charles A. Lindbergh, flying the “Spirit of St. Louis,” becomes the first aviator to make a solo, non-stop, transatlantic flight from New York to Paris.
  • Lindbergh began his aviation career as a daredevil, performing feats like walking on the wings of flying aircraft and parachute stunts
  • Charles landed safely at Le Bourget Field outside Paris, having traveled over 3,600 miles in roughly 33.5 hours
  • He was named “Lucky Lindy” after his transatlantic flight and received the Congressional Medal of Honor, among other awards and honors.

1932 – First woman flies solo across the Atlantic Ocean

Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, from Newfoundland to Wales aboard the tri-motor plane Friendship.
  • Earhart took her first flying lesson in 1921 and 6 months later bought her first plane, a bright yellow two-seater bi-plane nicknamed The Canary.
  • For her Atlantic solo flight, Amelia flew in a Lockheed Electra 10E that was modified to include a large fuel tank
  • On July 2, 1932, after completing nearly 2/3rds of her historic flight, Amelia vanished. Neither the plane nor Amelia was ever found.
  • On July 11, 2014 , the round-the-world flight was symbolically completed by a descendant, Amelia Rose Earhart, in tribute of her namesake

1933 – Wiley Post completed the first round-the-world solo flight

  • The flight lasted 7 days, 18 hours and 49-1/2 minutes, 15,596 miles all told
  • Post left New York and traveled to Berlin, Soviet Union, Alaska and Canada
  • The solo flight was Post’s second flight around the world

1940 – Igor Sikorsky invents the first modern helicopter

  • Demonstrated in Bridgeport, CT, the first modern helicopter, known as the VS-300, had a single three-blade rotor and was powered by a 75-horsepower engine
  • In 1941, Sikorsky created a world record by keeping the VS-300 in the air for 1 hour, 32 minutes

1970 – First wide-body jumbo jet

The Boeing 747 was created because airlines wanted a plane that would accommodate large crowds to reduce foot traffic at airports.
  • The Boeing 747 was nicknamed “Jumbo Jet,” or “Queen of the Skies.”
  • It could comfortably seat 400 passengers
  • In the 70s, many of the Boeing 747’s included spacious business and first class lounges in an upstairs compartment

2003 – First totally autonomous, computer-controlled model aircraft flight across the Atlantic

Autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now an established feature of modern warfare, carrying out pinpoint attacks under the control of a remote operator.
  • In the beginning of the 21st century, digital technology allowed subsonic military aviation to begin eliminating the pilot in favor of remotely operated or completely autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles

2008 – Maiden flight of the first Lockheed Martin F-35B

The F-35B Standard Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) is a single-engine, fifth generation fighter aircraft designed and developed by Lockheed Martin. It is the first aircraft to combine stealth technology with STOVL capabilities and supersonic speeds.
  • The F-35B was created due to the demand of an aircraft that could replace current fighter jets and go supersonic speed, hover like a helicopter and have minimal radar signature
  • The maiden flight of the first F-35B prototype took place in June 2008, and in March 2010 accomplished its hover capability
  • The F-35B accomplished supersonic speeds in June 2010 and has a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 (1217 mph)

2011 – Delivery of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Responding to the overwhelming preference of airlines around the world, Boeing Commercial Airplanes launched the 787 Dreamliner, an all-new, superefficient airplane.
  • The 787-8 Dreamliner can carry 242 passengers up to 7,850 nautical miles (14,500 km) and has a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (647 mph).
  • In addition to bringing big-jet ranges to midsize airplanes, the 787 family provides airlines with unmatched fuel efficiency, resulting in exceptional environmental performance. The airplane uses 20 percent percent less fuel than today's similarly sized airplanes.
  • Passengers also enjoy improvements on the 787 Dreamliner, from an interior environment with higher humidity to more comfort and convenience.
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