banner image


Amelia Earhart (1897-1939, declared in absentia) was a ground breaking aviator who was also a member of the National Women’s Party, who became the first female to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean. During her career she set many records, and it is not unexpected that the International Herald Tribune followed her career alongside those of other aviators such as Charles Lingbergh (1902-1974).  The International Herald Tribune took great interest in Earhart’s career as an aviator, followed her many flights, and reported on her lesser known trips that included Mexico and Northern Ireland, as well as the historic, record setting flights. Their coverage included her world flight attempts, and its use for scientific study on the effect of strain, the scientific and research elements of her flights often being neglected by other reporting. The first attempt ended early after a crash on the second leg; the second attempt fared better, as Earhart made it to Asia. In a mystery that still persists to this day, Earhart and her company disappeared over the Central Pacific Ocean in early July 1937.

"American Woman First to Fly across Atlantic." U.S. Air Services, July 1928

"Amelia Earhart Looks into the Future." U.S. Air Services, Aug. 1934

"Amelia Earhart, the Pacifc Ocean, Etc." U.S. Air Services, Feb. 1935

Adler, Jerry. "The Lady Vanishes." Smithsonian, Jan. 2015


Biplanes are an airplane design with two wings, one above the other. In the 1890s this configuration was adopted for some successful piloted gliders. The Wright brothers’ biplanes (1903–09) opened the era of powered flight. Biplanes predominated in military and commercial aviation from World War I through the early 1930s, but the biplane’s greater maneuverability could not offset the speed advantage of the lighter monoplane. After World War II, biplanes were used only for special purposes: crop dusting and sport (aerobatic) flying.

Sir George Cayley (also called Sir George Cayley, 6th Baronet, (1773-1854) was an English pioneer of aerial navigation and aeronautical engineering and designer of the first successful glider to carry a human being aloft. His most important discoveries included the advantages of streamlining, the means of obtaining longitudinal and lateral stability, elements of wing design, thoughts on biplane and multiplane wings, and the use of rudders and elevators for control. In 1804 he flew the first successful glider model of which there is any record. His work culminated in 1853 with the completion of a full-scale glider that carried his reluctant coachman on the first manned glider flight on record. Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896) was a German aviation pioneer. Lilienthal was the most significant aeronautical pioneer in the years between the advancements of the Englishman George Cayley and the American Wright brothers. Having explored the physical principles governing winged flight, Lilienthal began to design and build gliders on the basis of the information he had gathered. Between 1891 and 1896, he completed some 2,000 flights in at least 16 distinct glider types. He broke his back in a glider crash on Aug. 9, 1896, and died in a Berlin hospital the next day. (


Hubbard, T. O'B. "Cayley on Dirigibles." Aeronautics [London], Dec. 1909

"Sir George Cayley's Work in Aeronautics." Aviation, 17 Dec. 1923

"The Lilienthal Flying Machine." American Engineer and Railroad Journal, October 1894-October 1895

"The Flying Man." Aeronautics [New York], Apr. 1894


Charles Augustus Lindbergh (1902-1974), American aviator, made the historic first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. After attending schools in Little Falls, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., Lindbergh enrolled in a mechanical engineering program at the University of Wisconsin. He left to study flying in Lincoln, Nebraska (1920-1922). He made his first solo flight in 1923 and thereafter made exhibition flights and short hops in the Midwest. He enrolled in the U.S. Air Service Reserve as a cadet in 1924 and graduated the next year. In 1926 he made his first flight as an airmail pilot between Chicago and St. Louis. In December 1927 Lindbergh flew nonstop between Washington and Mexico City and went on a goodwill trip to the Caribbean and Central America. On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off in his silverwinged monoplane from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, bound for Le Bourget Airport outside Paris. Better-equipped and better-known aviators had failed; some had even crashed to their death. But Lindbergh succeeded. He arrived on May 21, having traveled 2, 610 miles in 33 1/2 hours. He was immediately acclaimed a hero and received numerous honors and decorations, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, the French Chevalier Legion of Honor, the Royal Air Cross (British), and the Order of Leopold (Belgium). During a 75-city American tour sponsored by the Daniel Guggenheim Foundation for the Promotion of Aeronautics, he was greeted by wild demonstrations.

Adapted from: "Charles Augustus Lindbergh." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 9, Gale, 2004


"Lindbergh Conquers the World by Airplane." U.S. Air Services, June 1927

"Colonel Lindbergh's Plane in Miniature." U.S. Air Services, Aug. 1927

Bergstrom, Florence O. "Flying with Lindbergh." U.S. Air Services, May 1928

Lindbergh, Charles A. (1949). [1949]. MS Collections related to Commercial Aeronautics: Clement Melville Keys Papers NASM0070, Box 28, Folder 26. National Air and Space Museum, Archives Division


The first scientific exposition of the principles that ultimately led to the successful helicopter came in 1843 from Sir George Cayley, who is also regarded by many as the father of fixed-wing flight. From that point on, a veritable gene pool of helicopter ideas was spawned by numerous inventors, almost entirely in model or sketch form. On September 29, the Breguet brothers, Louis and Jacques, under the guidance of the physiologist and aviation pioneer Charles Richet made a short flight in their Gyroplane No. 1, powered by a 45-horsepower engine. The Gyroplane had a spiderweb-like frame and four sets of rotors. The piloted aircraft lifted from the ground to a height of about two feet, but it was tethered and not under any control. Bréguet built his first airplane in 1909, set a speed record for a flight of 10 kilometres in 1911, and in that year founded the Société des Ateliers d’Aviation Louis Bréguet. In 1912 he constructed his first hydroplane and in 1917 designed and flew a “gyroplane,” the forerunner of the helicopter. (


"The Breguet Gyroplane." Aeronautics [New York], Sept. 1908

Breguet, Louis. "My Impressions of Aviation in America." Slipstream, Feb. 1926

Bréguet, Louis. "Les Avions Louis Bréguet." L'Aéronautique, Nov. 1921

"The Breguet Aeroplane." Flight, 22 July 1911


Initially, Quimby decided to become a journalist, and at the time, women were just breaking into the field. She secured work in San Francisco, and became a celebrity of sorts in San Francisco, drawing admirers through her cunning beauty and ability to turn mundane events into attention–grabbing news stories. In 1903, Quimby moved to New York City, and in 1910 she was sent to cover an international air competition, which featured aviators racing from New York's Belmont Park to the Statue of Liberty and back. By April 1911, Quimby had enrolled at Moisant's flying school in Long Island. Many schools, including those run by the Wright brothers, would not enroll women. On August 1, 1911, after 33 lessons and less than five hours in the air, Quimby won her license, No. 37, from the Aero Club of America. To pass the test, Quimby had to make turns around a pylon, do figure–eights and land the plane within 165 feet of her departure point. Quimby brought her plane to a stop within eight feet of her starting point, setting a new school record for accuracy. ("Quimby, Harriet." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 28, Gale, 2008)

Bessie Coleman was born on January 26, 1892, in a one-room, dirt-floored cabin in Atlanta, Texas, to George and Susan Coleman, the illiterate children of slaves. When Bessie was two years old, her father, a day laborer, moved his family to Waxahachie, Texas. Education for Coleman was limited to eight grades in a one-room schoolhouse that closed whenever the students were needed in the fields to help their families harvest cotton. Already responsible for her sisters and the household chores while her mother worked, Coleman was a reluctant cotton picker but an intelligent and expert accountant. In 1915 when she moved to Chicago to live with her older brother, and found a sponsor in Robert Abbott, publisher of the nation's largest African American weekly. There were no African American aviators in the area and, when no white pilot was willing to teach her to fly, Coleman appealed to Abbott, who suggested that she go to France. She left for France late in 1920. There she completed flight training at the best school in France and was awarded her F.A.I. (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) license on June 15, 1921. ("Bessie Coleman." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 4, Gale, 2004)


"Aero Club Grants First Woman's Pilot License." Fly, Sept. 1911

Quimby, Harriet. "How I Made My First Big Flight Abroad." Fly, June 1912

"Black Wings Exhibit and Book Collection, # 1." African Americans in Aviation, Gale

Black Wings - Series IV: Biographical File Coleman, Bessie. Oct. 1973. MS African Americans in Aviation: Black Wings Exhibit and Book Collection NASM0076, Box 6, Folder 4. National Air and Space Museum, Archives Division


Born in Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine) on May 25, 1889, Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky became interested in flight at an early age. Both parents were physicians, giving Sikorsky the scientific grounding that he needed to develop aircraft ideas inspired by Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne. At age 12, he built his first flying model of a helicopter.
After studying at technical institutions in Russia and France, Sikorksy worked on early helicopter designs but gave up on vertical flight in 1909. He returned to Russia to work on airplanes, creating several models. His first, the S-5, flew in 1911. After being ousted from Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution, Sikorsky eventually immigrated to America in 1919. It took him four years to raise enough money to start his own aircraft company, which created several successful airplane models. In 1931, he again started working on helicopter designs, pioneering many improvements to rotorcraft, including the single rotor present on almost all of today's helicopters. He often referred to the helicopter as the "automobile of the future." (


"Igor I. Sikorsky." U.S. Air Services, Jan. 1929

Pierson, Harold C. "And How Does Success Affect Igor Sikorsky?" U.S. Air Services, Jan. 1930

Delear, Frank J. The Miracle of the Helicopter: by Frank J. Delear. New York Airways Publications, 1961

"Igor Sikorsky." Collections related to Aeronautics, Gale


Emile Berliner (1851-1929), who created the gramophone (disc-record player) and founded the Victor Talking Machine Co., was also an avid helicopter inventor. Berliner created a 36-horsepower engine and used two of them on a platform designed by John Newton Williams. The craft reportedly lifted both men about 3 feet off the ground, but likely had to be steadied. Berliner, went on to build several other helicopters, and also suggested the use of an auxiliary tail rotor -- a standard feature of helicopters today -- to stabilize flight. Following Emile Berliner's nervous breakdown in 1914, son Henry Berliner continued to work on helicopters. The Berliners created a coaxial helicopter in 1920 that managed to move forward several yards, representing the first manned, controlled helicopter flight in the United States. In 1924, the pair's research culminated in a hybrid helicopter that used the fuselage of a Neuport 23 biplane and wing-mounted rotors to create a vehicle that could move at about 40 mph, rise to an altitude of 15 feet and turn with a radius of 150 feet. The craft was demonstrated in front of Navy officials and the press on Feb. 24, 1924. (


"The Berliner Helicopter in Flight." Aviation, 18 Sept. 1922

Berliner, Emile. "The Elements of a Gyrocopter—By Emile Berliner." Aeronautics [New York], 30 Apr. 1915

Berliner, Emile. "Revolving Cylinder Motors." Aeronautics [London], Nov. 1913

"The Berliner Helicopter." Aeronautics [New York], Oct. 1908


William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) created unrivaled panoramas of English upper-middle-class life, crowded with memorable characters displaying realistic mixtures of virtue, vanity, and vice. When William Makepeace Thackeray began his literary career, English prose fiction was dominated by Charles Dickens (1812-1870). Thackeray formed his style in conscious reaction against Dickens’s programmatic indictment of social evils and against the artificial style and sentimental falsification of life and moral values of the popular historical romances. The familiar, moralizing commentaries of Thackeray’s narrators, as integral a part of his novels as the characters themselves, expressed their author’s detached moral disillusionment--usually touched with sentimentality. Although critical of society, Thackeray was never a radical intellectual, remaining basically conservative. As a regular contributor to the satiric magazine Punch between 1844 and 1851, Thackeray finally achieved widespread recognition. His most famous contribution was ‘The Snobs of England, by One of Themselves’ (1846-1847). Through a series of satiric character sketches, it made a critical survey of the manners of a period in which old standards of behavior and social relationships had been shaken by the redistribution of wealth and power effected by industrialism. (Adapted from: “William Makepeace Thackeray.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998).


[William Thackeray]. “Soldiering.” Punch, 26 July 1845

One of Themselves [William Thackeray]. “The Snobs of England.” Punch, 31 Oct. 1846

[William Thackeray]. “The Balmoral Gazette.” Punch, 16 Sept. 1848

[William Thackeray]. “An Ingleez Family.” Punch, 4 Oct. 1851



The American aviation pioneers Wilbur (1867-1912) and Orville (1871-1948) Wright were the first to accomplish manned, powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine. Their personalities were perfectly complementary: Orville was full of ideas and enthusiasms, an impetuous dreamer, while Wilbur was more steady in his habits, more mature in his judgments, and more likely to see a project through. The exploits of one of the great glider pilots of the late 19th century, Otto Lilienthal, had attracted the attention of the Wright brothers as early as 1891, but it was not until the death of this famous aeronautical engineer in 1896 that the two became interested in gliding experiments. The Wrights took up the problem of flight at an auspicious time, for some of the fundamental theories of aerodynamics were already known; a body of experimental data existed; and most importantly, the recent development of the internal combustion engine made available a sufficient source of power for manned flight. Although they sometimes acted as scientists, the basic approach of the Wrights was that of the engineer. They had no formal training as either scientist or engineer, but they combined the instincts of both. The Wright brothers soon discovered, however, that no manufacturer would undertake to build an engine that would meet their specifications, so they had to build their own. They produced one that had four cylinders and developed 12 horsepower. When it was installed in the air frame, the entire machine weighed just 750 pounds and proved to be capable of traveling 31 miles per hour. They took this new airplane to Kitty Hawk in the fall of 1903 and on December 17 made the world's first manned, powered flight in a heavier-than-air craft. The first flight was made by Orville and lasted only 12 seconds, during which the airplane flew 120 feet. That same day, however, on its fourth flight, with Wilbur at the controls, the plane stayed in the air for 59 seconds and traveled [sic.] 852 feet. 

Adapted from: "Wright Brothers." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 16, Gale, 2004


Stratton, S. W. "The Pioneer Work of the Wright Brothers." U.S. Air Services, Dec. 1923

Calderara, M. "The Wright Brothers' Discovery." U.S. Air Services, Dec. 1923

"Orville Wright Breaks All Records—62 Minutes in the Air." Aeronautics [New York], Sept. 1908

Clippings on Wright Brothers 1908 Date Unspecified. 1908. MS Collections related to Aeronautics: Ernest Jones Aeronautical Collection, 1906-1937 NASM0023, Box 20, Folder 3. National Air and Space Museum, Archives Division


Any views and opinions expressed in the articles selected are those of the author in question, and any views or opinions from the original source material are those of the publication in question. Gale, a Cengage Company, provide facsimile reproductions of original sources, and do not endorse or dispute the content contained in them.

Any content, unless otherwise stated, are © Gale, a Cengage Company. Further reproduction of this content is prohibited. Any errors are those of the author.