WW1 Timeline

1914 The Chinese Army Air Arm is formed. 

January 1914 The Naval Aeronautical Center is established at NAS Pensacola, Florida

January 1914 The Il'ya Muromets bomber is flown for the first time. 

January 1, 1914 Tony Jannus flies a Benoist flying boat between Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, to inaugurate the first regularly scheduled passenger airline. 

February 23, 1914 A prototype of the Bristol Scout flies. 

April 1914 The Fokker M.5, a prototype of the Eindecker, appears. 

April 25, 1914 Navy Lieutenant P.N.L. Bellinger makes the first U.S. combat flight off Vera Cruz, Mexico, to scout for sea mines. 

May 6, 1914 Navy Lieutenant P.N.L Bellinger's aeroplane is hit by rifle fire. This is the first recorded U.S. aerial combat damage. 

July 7, 1914 Robert Goddard secures a patent for his two-stage solid fuel rocket. 

August 1, 1914 Germany declares war on Russia. In subsequent days, it becomes a true world war, with Allies versus the Central Powers. 

August 22, 1914 The British RFC takes a reconnaissance of German lines. 

August 26, 1914 Russian staff Captain Peter Nesterov rams an Austrian plane; both pilots are killed. 

August 27, 1914 The first RFC squadrons arrive in France

August 30, 1914 German Army Lieutenant Ferdinand von Hiddessen bombs Paris from his Taube; a woman is killed. 

October 5, 1914 Corporal Louis Quénault and Sergeant Joseph Frantz of the French Air Force shoot down a German Aviatik. It's the first victory in aerial combat. 

November 21, 1914 Three Avro 504s bomb Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen, Germany. 

December 21, 1914 A German airplane drops bombs on Dover; it's the first attack on England

December 25, 1914 Seven British hydroaeroplanes are launched from Royal Navy carriers. They succeed in bombing German facilities in Cuxhaven. 

January 19, 1915 The first Zeppelin raids begin in England. 


It is difficult to imagine the tremendous grip the dirigible had on the public, especially in Germany. 

Peter M. Bowers Collection 

February 17, 1915 HMS Ark Royal, the first ship converted to aircraft duty, launches a seaplane to reconnoiter Turks at Gallipoli, Turkey

March 3, 1915 The United States forms the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which will become the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958. 

April 1, 1915 Roland Garros uses a machine gun fired through a propeller (unsynchronized) to shoot down a German plane. 

May 31, 1915 The first Zeppelin raid on London kills seven civilians. 

June 1, 1915 The prototype de Havilland D.H.2 makes its first flight. 

June 5, 1915 Flight Sub-Lieutenant R.A.J. Warneford is awarded the Victoria Cross for dropping a bomb on an LZ 37. He is killed 12 days later. 

July 1915 Fokker E 1 monoplanes ("E" standing for eindecker, or monoplane) arrive at the front, the first to have a synchronized gun firing through the propeller. 

July 15, 1915 Lieutenant Kurt Wintgens scores a victory with an Eindecker fitted with a synchronized gun. 

July 25, 1915 Captain Lanoe Hawker of the RFC earns the first Victoria Cross for air-to-air combat. 

Fall 1915 The "Fokker Scourge" begins as Fokker Eindeckers reign supreme on the western front. 

December 12, 1915 Hugo Junkers' J 1 "Tin Donkey," the first all-metal monoplane, makes its inaugural flight in Germany. 

January 1916 Kampfgeschwader Nr. 1, the German elite bombing unit, receives Gotha IV bombers. 

1916 Flight Timeline 


The Sopwith Triplane was perhaps more famous for the planes that imitated it than it was in its own right. 

Peter M. Bowers Collection 


January 1916 The first aero squadron to serve outside the United States, 1st Company, 2nd Aero Squadron, sails from San Francisco to the Philippines

January 12, 1916 German fighter aces Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann receive the Pour le Mérite (Blue Max) medal. 

January 13, 1916 Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company Incorporated is formed in Buffalo, New York

January 21, 1916 The Navy begins experimenting with aircraft radio at Pensacola. 

February 9, 1916 Captain A. D. Smith flies a Martin S (Hall Scott engine) to set a world hydroaeroplane record of 8 hours, 42 minutes. 

February 12, 1916 The U.S. Post Office seeks bids for carrying the mail by air in Massachusetts and Alaska

March 16, 1916 The 1st Aero Squadron, commanded by Captain B. D. Foulois, becomes the first U.S. tactical air unit in the field. 

March 29, 1916 Lieutenant R. C. Saufley sets an American altitude record of 16,010 feet for hydroaeroplanes at Pensacola. 

April 1916 The French use air-to-air rockets for the first time, firing Le Prieur rockets from a Nieuport fighter. 

April 7, 1916 Captain B. D. Foulois and Lieutenant Dargue are fired on by Mexican troops at Chihauahua City. 

April 20, 1916 American pilots form Escadrille Americaine to fight in France. The name is changed to Lafayette Escadrille in November after German protest (they did not want Americans to come into the war on the side of France). 

May 18, 1916 Kiffin Rockwell scores the first victory for Escadrille Americaine. 

May 22, 1916 Albert Ball scores his first two victories. 

May 28, 1916 The Sopwith Triplane makes its first flight. 

June 9, 1916 Lieutenant R. C. Saufley sets an endurance record of 8 hours, 51 minutes, then crashes to his death. 

June 18, 1916 German ace Max Immelmann is killed. 

June 18, 1916 H. Clyde Balsley of Escadrille Americaine is the first American to be shot down; he survives. 

June 23, 1916 Victor Chapman of Escadrille Americaine is the first American killed. 

June 29, 1916 The first Boeing aircraft, the Boeing B & W, flies. 

August 1916 A prototype D.H.4 flies. 

August 6, 1916 René Fonck gains his first victory; he will become the leading French ace of the war. 

August 7, 1916 The Wright-Martin Aircraft Company is formed after the first of many mergers in the aviation industry. 

September 1916 The French SPAD VII enters service. 

September 2, 1916 The first plane-to-plane radio contact is established over North Island, California, when telegraph messages are exchanged between two aircraft two miles apart. 

September 2, 1916 The first German Zeppelin is shot down over England

September 5, 1916 Leefe Robinson is awarded the Victoria Cross for destroying a German dirigible. 

September 12, 1916 Sperry Company and P. C. Hewitt demonstrate guided missile equipment. 

September 17, 1916 Baron Manfred von Richthofen gains the first of his 80 victories. 

September 23, 1916 Eleven Zeppelins raid England. 

October 7, 1916 H. E. Honeywell wins the National Balloon Race with a flight from Muskogee, Oklahoma, to Cascade, Iowa--a distance of 866 kilometers. 

October 12, 1916 Tony Jannus, the famous test pilot who piloted the first airliner, is killed demonstrating Benoist planes in Russia

October 28, 1916 Leading German ace Oswald Boelcke is killed in a midair collision with Erwin Böhme, a member of his own unit. 



The Gotha G V had two 260-horsepower Mercedes engines and a top speed of 88 miles per hour. 

Peter M. Bowers Collection 

1916-1917 Flight Timeline 

November 18, 1916 Seven JN-4s, originating in New York City, complete the first cross-country National Guard flight. 

November 20, 1916 Ruth Law sets a world record for female pilots by flying from Chicago to New York in 8 hours, 55 minutes, 35 seconds. 

November 21, 1916 The Breguet 14 makes its first flight. 

January 5, 1917 The Smithsonian Institution gives Robert Goddard a $5,000 grant for rocket work. 

January 16, 1917 Baron Manfred von Richthofen is awarded the Pour le Mérite (Blue Max) medal. 

January 19, 1917 The Gallaudet Aircraft Company (a direct ancestor of today's General Dynamics) is formed. 

February 11-12, 1917 A German D.F.W. shoots down two enemy bombers in the first successful night fighting between aircraft. 

February 13, 1917 The Aircraft Manufacturers Association is formed to permit cross-licensing of patents for the war effort. 

March 6, 1917 The first Airco (de Havilland) D.H.4s arrive in France

March 25, 1917 Billy Bishop gets his first victory (he will go on to become the leading surviving British ace with 72 victories). 

April 1917 "Bloody April": 150 RFC aircraft are destroyed, primarily by Albatros D III fighters. 

April 5, 1917 The potent Bristol F2B "Brisfit" fighter moves into combat on the western front with the RFC. 

April 6, 1917 The United States declares war on Germany. Rated 14th of world air powers, the United States has only 83 pilots and 109 obsolete aeroplanes in service. 

April 9, 1917 Dayton-Wright Aircraft Company is formed to manufacture Liberty-powered DH-4 biplanes. 

April 12, 1917 The Breguet 14, a famous French bomber, arrives at the front. 

May 1917 French squadrons begin to receive the SPAD XIII, a famous fighter. 

May 6, 1917 Albert Ball, the top British ace of the time, scores his 44th victory; he is killed the next day. 

May 18, 1917 The U.S. Navy experiments with self-sealing fuel tanks, using double-walled tanks with layers of felt, gum rubber, and Ivory-soap paste. 

May 20, 1917 The Curtiss-designed "Large America" flying boat is the first airplane to sink a German submarine (U-36). 

May 25, 1917 Twenty-one Gothas raid England in the first mass bombing; 95 people are killed. 

June 1917 The first of the German "Giant" bombers, a Staaken R VI, is delivered. 

June 13, 1917 Fourteen Gothas raid London, killing 162 civilians and injuring 432. The populace demands a home defense system. 

July 1917 Sopwith Camel fighters, the most successful planes based on number of kills (1,294), go into action. 

July 21, 1917 Congress ap-proves a gigantic $640 million for S.C. Aviation Service. This amount is eight times more than all U.S. aviation allocations since 1898. 

July 26, 1917 The Richthofen Flying Circus, a group of elite pilots, forms. 

August 2, 1917 Squadron Commander E. H. Dunning lands a Sopwith Pup on the deck of the HMS Furious, becoming the first pilot to land on a moving ship. He is killed five days later trying to repeat this effort. 

August 11, 1917 Billy Bishop earns the Victoria Cross for his role in an attack on an enemy airfield. 

August 21, 1917 The first two Fokker triplanes arrive at Baron Manfred von Richthofen's base. 

August 21, 1917 The first Liberty engine is flown in a L.W.F. Model F plane. 

August 30, 1917 German ace Werner Voss flies a Fokker Dr I triplane into combat for the first time, scoring three aerial victories. 

September 1917 A prototype of the Handley Page O/400--the best British bomber of the war--flies for the first time. 


The Fokker D VII was considered by many historians to be the best fighter of World War I. 

Peter M. Bowers Collection 

1917-1918 Flight Timeline 

September 11, 1917 French ace Georges Guynemer is shot down and killed. 

September 17, 1917 Zeppelin-Staaken R planes, capable of carrying one-ton bombs, raid England

September 23, 1917 Werner Voss is killed in a heroic, epic dogfight with the British No. 56 Squadron. 

October 11, 1917 The RFC forms the 41st Wing, dedicated to strategic bombing. 

October 29, 1917 The first American-made DH-4 flies with the #4 Liberty engine

November 7, 1917 The Russian revolution begins. 

November 18, 1917 The U.S. Navy begins combat operations with Tellier flying boats in France. 

November 20, 1917 The Battle of Cambrai takes place. Low-level attacks on both sides set a future pattern for air-to-ground warfare. 

November 21, 1917 The U.S. Navy demonstrates a radio-controlled flying bomb. 

November 27, 1917 Benny Foulois takes over as the Chief of Air Service, American Expeditionary Force (AEF) 

December 1917 Katherine Stinson sets an American cross-country duration record with a flight of nine hours and ten minutes, from San Diego to San Francisco. 

January 1918 The Fokker D VII wins a fighter competition in Berlin. 

January 19, 1918 The U.S. School of Aviation Medicine is founded. 

January 23, 1918 The first U.S. Army balloon ascends in France. 

February 1918 The first U.S. squadrons form in France. 

February 16, 1918 A plant opens at Romorantin, France, to assemble American planes. 

February 18, 1918 The 95th Aero Squadron, the first "all-American" unit, arrives in France. 

March 21, 1918 A gigantic German offensive begins. 

April 1918 Fokker D VIIs, the best fighters of the war, become operational. 

April 1, 1918 Britain establishes the Royal Air Force (RAF) out of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). 

April 12, 1918 Zeppelins raid England. It is the last raid of the war to cause casualties. 

April 13, 1918 An Argentine pilot, in a Morane-Saulnier Parasol, is the first to cross the Andes Mountains. 

April 14, 1918 Lieutenants Douglas Campbell and Alan Winslow score the first U.S. air victories when they shoot down Pfalz and Albatros aircraft over their airdrome. 

April 21, 1918 Baron Manfred von Richthofen is shot down and killed. 

May 11, 1918 The first American-built DH-4 arrives in France. 

May 15, 1918 The Packard LePere fighter flies. 

May 15, 1918 The Army establishes airmail service between New York and Washington, D.C. 

May 29, 1918 General John Pershing makes nonflyer Mason Patrick the Chief of Air Service, AEF. 

June 5, 1918 Hugh Trenchard heads the "Independent Air Force" to attack the German homeland. 

June 12, 1918 The first AEF bomber squadron, the 96th Aero Squadron, forms. Members fly French aircraft. 

June 19, 1918 Francesco Baracca, the leading Italian ace with 34 victories, is killed. 

July 9, 1918 Major James McCudden, one of Britain's top aces, is killed when his aircraft crashes on takeoff. 

July 26, 1918 One-eyed pilot Mick Mannock, a British ace with 73 victories, is shot down in flames. 

July 26, 1918 One-eyed pilot Mick Mannock, a British ace with 73 victories, is shot down in flames.

August 1918 Fokker D VII fighters score 565 kills in one month.

August 2, 1918 The first combat flight of an American DH-4 is a fiasco.


The Martin Bomber was the first American-made bomber.

Peter M. Bowers Collection

1918-1920 Flight Timeline

August 17, 1918 The Martin GMB, the first American-made bomber, makes its first flight.

August 21, 1918 The Nieuport 29, one of most important fighters of the 1920s, flies for the first time.

September 12-15, 1918 The Battle of St. Mihiel marks the largest deployment of aircraft in a single operation to date. Billy Mitchell commands 1,480 aircraft (including those in the service of French, British, U.S., and Italian air forces).

September 18, 1918 Major Rudolph Schroeder sets a world altitude record of 28,890 feet at McCook Field.

September 25, 1918 Eddie Rickenbacker earns the Medal of Honor for success in combat.

September 26, 1918 Leading French ace, Captain René Fonck, shoots down six German planes in one day, including four Fokker D VIIs.

September 28, 1918 Renegade Frank Luke is killed after shooting down 3 balloons to bring his total score to 21. As the second-ranking American ace, he receives a posthumous Medal of Honor.

October 2, 1918 The Kettering Bug, an early guided missile, makes its first flight.

October 24, 1918 The Fokker D VIII arrives at the front.

October 27, 1918 Major William Barker engages in an epic dogfight with 15 Fokker D VIIs. He scores three victories before he is shot down and wounded; he is awarded the Victoria Cross.

November 6-7, 1918 Robert Goddard demonstrates rockets before the military.

November 11, 1918 The armistice ends World War I.