Airplanes and Pilots

A pictorial history of the airplane and the men and women associated with flight - pilots, astronauts, inventors, and others. See more...


Since the beginning of time, humans have wanted to fly. While this goal was sought in many ways (fashioning wings and wearing them, hot air balloons, gliders), it wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that the modern concept of the airplane was successfully achieved.

Flying facts:
  • KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines - is the oldest airline operating under its original name and still flying in the world. It was formed in 1919.


  • The Boeing 747's 195 ft wing-span is longer than the Wright Brothers' first flight - the Kitty Hawk flew 120 feet.


  • In the Fall of 1783 three passengers as well as a sheep, a rooster and a duck successfully flew in a hot air balloon.


  • English is used internationally in flight - all flight controllers and pilots must speak English if they are involved with flight between countries.


  • Harriet Quimby was the first woman licensed to pilot a plane in the U.S. - in 1911. She was also the first woman to fly across the English Channel.


  • Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. Charles Lindbergh was the first man to fly solo, without stops, across the Atlantic in 1927.


  • Chuck Yeager was the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound in 1947.


  • Take heart: approximately 95.7% of people involved in a plane crash survive the crash.


Following is a pictorial history of flight and of the men and women associated with this history.

That's a photo of my father Pvt. Leonard J. Chapman, holding the rear of the aircraft, so it will not begin to take off. This photo taken about 1929, in the Philippine Island.
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May 22, 1909 - Jul 13, 2005 1909 - 2005
Added May 28, 2015 by: Leonard Chapman
Leonard Chapman
28 favorites
A photo of Arthur Richard Hugh Beauman's plane
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Feb 28, 1918 - Dec 5, 1940 1918 - 1940
Added Apr 24, 2015 by: Jonathan Beauman
Jonathan Beauman
8 favorites
A photo of S/L Norman Henry Nixon arriving at Cairns Airport with the 1956 Olympic flame he flew from Darwin.
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Jan 6, 1916 - Feb 9, 1961 1916 - 1961
Added Feb 20, 2015 by: Bruce Richard
Bruce Richard
4 favorites
A photo of Robert E Montague (1921 - 1998) and crew
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Jan 28, 1921 - Dec 2, 1998 1921 - 1998
Added Jan 12, 2015 by: Thomas Montague
Thomas Montague
109 favorites
A photo of William George Mccaig
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Dec 16, 1895 - Oct 1, 1918 1895 - 1918
Added Apr 6, 2014 by: Jan Lowe
Jan Lowe
7 favorites
A photo of Willard Dewayne Dover
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Nov 25, 1898 - Feb 22, 1991 1898 - 1991
Added Jul 16, 2013 by: Brian Nelson
Brian Nelson
8 favorites
Douglas,beside an ancient bi-plane (I think). Douglas volunteered in the Canadian Air Force at the beginning of WWII. According to family history, he was lost in a mission over Germany.
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c. 1919 - Nov 8, 1941 1919 - 1941
Orville Wright and Lieutenant Lahm of the United States Signal Corps making the world's record flight at Fort Myer, on July 27--The aeroplane made fifty miles at a speed of about forty miles an hour
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Aug 19, 1871 - Jan 30, 1948 1871 - 1948
Added Jan 11, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
450 favorites
A photo of Orville Wright at start of flight, Fort Meyer [i.e. Myer], VA
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Aug 19, 1871 - Jan 30, 1948 1871 - 1948
Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright seated on steps of rear porch, 7 Hawthorne St., Dayton, Ohio
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Aug 19, 1871 - Jan 30, 1948 1871 - 1948
Added Jan 9, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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Orville, Wilbur, and Katherine Wright, with others
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Aug 19, 1871 - Jan 30, 1948 1871 - 1948
Added Dec 31, 2011 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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Second from left on bottom is William H. Weise. Others unknown. Crew and plane are unknown. I have posted the same photo with same crew in flight suits.
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Apr 21, 1920 - Unknown 1920 - ?
A photo of Anna Marie (Braunger) Kriege Honeymoon in California in a Bi-Plane 1920
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Jul 23, 1893 - Mar 21, 1991 1893 - 1991
Added May 21, 2016 by: Jan Doss
Jan Doss
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From some of my Fathers war photos. Will be posting others. Not really sure who anyone is in this photo. First airman on the left kneeling looks like another photo I have of someone named "Joe Bielecky", who probaly served with my father, Capt. William Weise.
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c. 1922 - Unknown 1922 - ?
Sikorsky Aircraft employee Vince Klem in a biplane at Port Jefferson Long Island in 1937. Photo by friend B.S. Norkus
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Sep 14, 1911 - Oct 15, 1994 1911 - 1994
Added Apr 7, 2020 by: Trixie Ryzlewicz
Trixie Ryzlewicz
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A photo of Arthur Douglas Hardinge
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Apr 19, 1919 - Mar 14, 2007 1919 - 2007
Added Dec 21, 2019 by: Walt Hardinge
Walt Hardinge
9 favorites
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Tending to pilot Orville Wright or passenger Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge after the crash of the Wright Military Flyer at Fort Myer, Virginia The plane crashed when a propeller broke and the Lieutenant became the first passenger killed in an airplane crash. Another image of this crash can be found at: https://www.ancientfaces.com/photo/september-1908-orville-wright-plane-crash/1348581
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Aug 19, 1871 - Jan 30, 1948 1871 - 1948
On the morning of July 28, 1945, Lieutenant Colonel William F. Smith Jr. was piloting a B-25 Mitchell bomber on a routine personnel transport out of Massachusetts. He encountered heavy fog and became disoriented as it passed over New York City on its descent into Newark Airport. At 9:40 a.m., it smashed into the north side of the Empire State Building and the oxygen tanks it was carrying exploded causing severe damage to the building. This photo was taken of the 78th and 79th floors after the crash. Between 50 and 60 sightseers were on the 86th floor observation deck when the crash happened. Fourteen people were killed: Colonel Smith, Staff Sergeant Christopher Domitrovich, and Navy Aviation Machinist's Mate Albert Perna, who was hitching a ride, and eleven civilians in the building including Anna Gerlach.
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c. 1900 - Jul 28, 1945 1900 - 1945
During flight trials to win a contract from the U.S. Army Signal Corps, pilot Orville Wright and passenger Lt. Thomas Selfridge crashed in a Wright Flyer at Fort Myer, Virginia. Wright was injured, and Selfridge becomes the first passenger to die in an airplane accident. Another image of this crash can be found at: https://www.ancientfaces.com/photo/pilot-orville-wright-plane-crash-kills-lt-selfridg/1204822
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Aug 19, 1871 - Jan 30, 1948 1871 - 1948
Entire crew of B17 Bomber stationed in England, 1944. Father-in-law was ball turret gunner. Entire crew survived 35 missions, many over Nazi Germany. Father-in-law Sgt. Church, 2nd. from right, standing. Awarded Air Medal with 8 OLC.
Mary Webb Nicholson was instrumental in helping Jacqueline Cochran set up a group of American women pilots to ferry airplanes for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in England during World War II. She herself was thrilled to join the last group of women pilots who went over to participate in the war effort. After initial flight training in Canada, Mary traveled by barge with several other women pilots to England. She was stationed at Maidenhead, in Berkshire, England. In May of 1943, shortly after being promoted to Second Officer, Mary was ferrying a Miles Master when, due to mechanical difficulties, the propeller flew off her plane over Worcestershire County. In poor weather conditions, she made an emergency landing in a farm field. Unable to avoid hitting a farm building, Mary's plane crashed and burst into flames. A nearby farmer attempted, unsuccessfully, to rescue her. Mary was the only American woman in the ATA to lose her life in the war.
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1906 - May 22, 1943 1906 - 1943
The crew of the WWII bomber standing co pilot H Ponder from Kansas, mid bombadeer Farrington, ? Brady, lower Jim Robinson(staff Sgt & asst eng), Cordi Abruzzi, George Gabsella, ? Harrison, Walt Wiewiora of Chicago. Plane retired in Charleston, SC, and crew became instructors. Photo taken in Salinas, Kansas.
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Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Charles H. Barrett in his plane. Taken when he was in the Korean Conflict, July 1952
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Apr 16, 1928 - Apr 29, 2009 1928 - 2009
Added Jan 1, 2001 by: Mj Benning
Mj Benning
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2nd plane
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May 1, 1932 - Feb 24, 2006 1932 - 2006
Added Feb 7 by: Kimberly Ireland
Kimberly Ireland
42 favorites
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Pilot
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May 1, 1932 - Feb 24, 2006 1932 - 2006
Added Feb 7 by: Kimberly Ireland
Kimberly Ireland
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This is a photo of Bayard Turner (Gross) Dudley added by Lucinda McLaren on December 27, 2020.
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Jan 17, 1922 - Dec 31, 1943 1922 - 1943
Added Dec 27, 2020 by: Lucinda McLaren
Lucinda McLaren
77 favorites
This is a photo of William Gross Dudley added by Lucinda McLaren on December 27, 2020.
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June 1925 - Apr 26, 1989 1925 - 1989
Added Dec 27, 2020 by: Lucinda McLaren
Lucinda McLaren
77 favorites
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Photo of the b-26 when brand new
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c. 1918 - Feb 29, 1944 1918 - 1944
Added Nov 14, 2020 by: Scott Alt
Scott Alt
24 favorites
Photo taken the day before the crash showing 93 missions (they did not have time to paint the 94th bomb on yet.
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c. 1918 - Feb 29, 1944 1918 - 1944
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