While most of the flyers listed below flew on numerous subsequent occasions and broke their first-time records, most other high ‘flights’ of the 1906-8 period (other than those of the Wright brothers) were no more than short hops of a few seconds in duration; meanwhile, the Wrights were so far in advance of their competitors that they were flying under full control for more than an hour and over distances of 80 km/ 50 miles. The first flight here in the UK was by an American, Samuel Franklin Cody, at Farnborough on 16th of October 1908; it lasted barely 27 seconds and covered just 424 m/1,390 ft. But these people went much, much further…
10 – Thérèse Peltier (French)
On 8 July 1908 at Turin, Italy, in a Voisin piloted by Delagrange. This short hop of 500 ft made her the worlds very first female air passenger.
9 – Glenn Curtiss (1878-1930; American)
On 4 July 1908 at Hammondsport, New York, in an AEA June Bug (1 min 42.5 sec; 1,551 m/ 5,090 ft), the first official public flight in the USA.
8 – Louis Blériot (1872-1936; French)
On 29 June 1908 at Issy, France, in his Blériot VIII (50 sec; 700 m/ 2,297 ft). By 6 July 1908, Blériot had made a flight of 8 min 25 sec (distance not recorded); he then flew across the English Channel on 25 July 1909.
7 – Charles W. Furnas (American)
On 14 May 1908 at Dayton, Ohio, Wilbur Wright took Furnas, his mechanic, for a spin in the Wright Flyer III (29 sec; 600 m/ 1,968 ft). He was thus the worlds very first aeroplane passenger!
6 – Henri Farman (1874-1958; British)
On 11 January 1908 at Issy, France, in his VoisinFarmanl (1 min 45 sec; distance not recorded). This was the first European flight of more than one minute; on 13 January Farman flew the first circle in Europe in the same aircraft.
5 – Robert Esnault-Pelterie (1881-1957; French)
On the 16th of November 1907 at Buc, France, in his REP 1 (55 sec; 600 m/ 1,969 ft).
4 – Léon Delagrange (187 3-1910; French)
On 5 November 1907 at Issy, France, in his Voisin Delagrange I (40 sec; 500 m/ 1,640 ft). He did not succeed in beating Henry Farman’s record for distance but did establish a new distance record for monoplanes and a new world speed record.
3 – Alberto Santos-Dumont (187 3-1932; Brazilian)
On 12 November 1906 at Bagatelle, France, in his Santos-Dumont 14-bis (21.2 sec; 220 m/ 7 22 ft). The heir of a wealthy family of coffee producers, Santos-Dumont dedicated himself to aeronautical study and experimentation in Paris, where he spent most of his adult life.
2 – Wilbur Wright (1867-1912; American)
On the same day, Orville Wright’s brother made his first flight in the Wright Flyer I (59 sec; 260 m/ 852 ft).
1 – Orville Wright (1871-1948; American)
On 17 December 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North. Carolina, Wright made the first ever manned flight in his Wright Flyer I. It lasted 12 seconds and covered a distance of 37 m/ 120 ft.