1870-1879 Master Index 1890-1899

1880-1889 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events


  • 1880 — Alexander Fjodorowitsch Mozhaiski patents a steam-powered aircraft. [3]

  • 1880 — Karl Wölfert and Ernst Baumgarten attempt to fly a powered dirigible in free flight, but crash. [3]

  • 1880 — Balloons are used in British military manoeuvres for the first time at Aldershot. [3]

  • 1880 (USA) — Thomas A. Edison conducts helicopter experiments for James Gordon Bennett. [2]

  • No data.


  • 1882 — Wölfert unsuccessfully tests a balloon powered by a hand-cranked propeller. [3]

  • 1882 (Germany) — The Berlin-based “German Society for Promoting Aviation” publishes a magazine, the "Zeitschrift fÜr Luftschiffahrt" (Magazine of Aviation). [3]


  • 1883 (Kent, England) — The British Army's Balloon School and Balloon Equipment Store, consisting of a small factory and a school of instruction, is set up at Chatham; the first balloon made is the Sapper, of 56,000 ft³. [1]

  • 17 March 1883 (United States) — First of a series of glider flights by John Joseph Montgomery, Otay, California. [2]

  • 1883 — The first electric-powered flight is made by Gaston Tissandier who fits a Siemens AG electric motor to a dirigible. Airships with electric engines (Tissandier brothers, Renard and Krebs). [3]

  • 1883 (United States) — America A.J. King invents the fast moving internal combustion engine, which is suitable for aviation because of its good power to weight ratio. [3]

  • 28 August 1883 (Otay Mesa, San Diego, California) — On this date, John Montgomery was reported to have flown his craft for a distance of 600 feet on its first flight. By moving the control lever for the movable tail surface, he could control its flight to take advantage of wind conditions. The flight occurred at Otay Mesa near San Diego, California. This was the first reported instance of "controlled" flight of a "heavier-than-air" craft. Over the next 10 years, John Montgomery (who had a Master of Science degree) continued to study the lift effects of various airfoil designs. In 1894, his design and experimental results were published in summary form in Octave Chanute's “Progress in Flying.” The Wright Brothers read this book. John Montgomery continued to focus on the stability and control of aircraft using unpowered configurations. He was the first person to use the term “aeroplane” and wrote a booklet with that title. He was granted the first “aeroplane breakable patent in 1906. In 1910, John Montgomery entered into an agreement with Victor Loughead (later Lockheed) to build a powered aircraft. John Montgomery was to provide the airframe and Loughead the engine. They agreed that John Montgomery would perfect the airframe by building a high-wing monoplane with landing gear, a modern-looking yoke control stick, and a bucket-type seat. John Montgomery died on 17 October 1911, after this aircraft crashed on its maiden flight due to a sudden pitchup. His last words were, “How is the machine?” [5]


  • 1884 (St. Petersburg, Russia) — Tests are carried out with a steam-powered monoplane, designed by Alexander Fedorovich Mozhaiski, at Krasnoye Selo, near St. Petersburg. It takes off down a short ramp and flies briefly. [1]

  • 1884 (France) — August 9, the first fully controllable free-flight is made in a French Army dirigible La France by Charles Renard and Arthur Krebs. The electric-powered flight covers 8 km (5 miles) in 23 minutes. It was the first full circle flight with landing on the starting point. [3]

  • 1884 — Mozhaiski finishes his monoplane (span 14 m, or 46 ft). It makes a short hop after running down a launch ramp. [3]

  • 1884 (South Africa) — British Army balloons are taken on the expedition to Bechuanaland in South Africa. [3]

  • 1884 (Russia) — The Imperial Russian Army adopts the balloon for military service. [3]

  • 1884 (England)— Englishman Horatio F. Philipps has a patent issued for caved profiles of wings. [3]

  • 9 August 1884 (Paris, France) — French captains maneuver their airship — This afternoon two French army captains made the first-ever fully controlled circular flight. Charles Renard, director of the French military balloon establishment at Chalais-Meudon, and Arthur Krebs ascended in their airship La France at 4:15 p.m. today, and started their 9-hp Gramme electric motor when the ship had risen to 165 feet. The aeronauts first steered the airship in an easterly direction; then, over Villacoublay, they executed a neat turn and headed Back to Chalais-Meudon. After 25 minutes, flying at a speed of 12/14 mph, La France was floating 825 feet above its point of departure. Renard and Krebs have proved that airships can be steered like sea vessels and be made to take off and land were desired. But their engine, with heavy batteries weighing 704 pounds, is not really practical for aircraft. [1]


  • 7 January 1885 (USA) — Russell Thayer, C.E., a graduate of West Point, urges on Secretary of War Robert T. Lincoln a compressed-air airship of his design. No action. [2]

  • 1885 (Russia) — The Prussian Airship Arm (Preussische Luftschiffer Abteilung) becomes a permanent unit of the army. [3]

  • 1885 (Sudan) — British Army balloons are taken to Sudan by the expeditionary force headed there. [3]

  • 1885United States … The name of Chanute, an American, must always stand among the pioneers of mechanical flight. Like Pilcher, he followed in the footsteps of Lilienthal. In his early experiments he evolved what is known as the multiplane; that is to say, a device with a very large number of surfaces. Eventually, however, he evolved a species of biplane, with which, by running down a hill, he achieved flights.


  • July 1886 (USA) — W.E. Irish, publisher of Aeronautical World, proposes balloon radio. [2]

  • 12-13 September 1886 (France) — Frenchmen Hervé and Alluard achieve a Montgolfière flight over 24 hours. [3]


  • 3 January 1887 (San Francisco, California) — Thomas E. Baldwin makes his first parachute jump at San Francisco. [2]

  • 1887 (St. Louis, Missouri) — American altitude record made by aeronaut Moore and Prof. H.A. Hazen of U.S. Signal Service, at St. Louis; 15,400 feet, in balloon of St. Louis Post Dispatch. [2]


  • 8 August 1888 Germany) — Friedrich Hermann Wölfert flies a petrol powered dirigible at Seelburg. The engine was built by Gottlieb Daimler. [3]


  • 1889 (Drumcondra, Ireland) — Percival Spencer makes a successful parachute jump from a balloon at Drumcondra, Ireland. [3]

  • 1889 — Percy Pilcher builds a human-carrying glider, the “Hawk”, and begins development of a light internal combustion engine. [3]

  • 1889 (Germany) — Otto Lilienthal publishes in his book Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst (Bird Flight as the Basis for the Art of Aviation) measurements on wings, so called polar diagrams, which are the concept of description of artificial wings even today. The book gives a reference for the advantages of the arched wing. [3]

Works Cited

  1. Gunston, Bill, et al. Chronicle of Aviation. Liberty, Missouri: JL Publishing Inc., 1992. 14-17
  2. Parrish, Wayne W. (Publisher). "United States Chronology". 1962 Aerospace Yearbook, Forty-Third Annual Edition. Washington, DC: American Aviation Publications, Inc., 1962, 446-469.
  3. Wikipedia, Timeline of Aviation — 19th Century
  4. Shupek, John (photos and card images), The Skytamer Archive., Whittier, CA
  5. Western Museum of Flight, Montgomery Glider
  6. Wikipedia, John Wise (balloonist)
  7. United States Navy, Naval History & Heritage Command. USS George Washington Parke Custis

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