World Aviation in 1914

The first flight of the Russian four-engined Sikorsky Ilya Mourometz.

1 January
The St. Petersburg Tampa Airboat Line of St Petersburg in Florida begins the first scheduled service by an airline. The 20 mile route from St Petersburg to Tampa across Tampa Bay is flown by Anthony Jannus in a Benoist flying boat and the mayor of St Petersburg, A.C. Pheil, buys the first airline ticket at auction for $400. The regular fare is $5.

The first aerial torpedo is released from a Farman biplane by General A. Guidoni of the Italian Army.

12 February
A Russian Ilya Mourometz aircraft carries sixteen passengers and a dog to a height of 2,000 metres (6,560 feet) and sets a world load-to-altitude record.

23 March
The Royal Siamese Flying Corps is formed.

The Fokker M5k is developed and becomes the prototype for the famous Fokker EIII Eindecker fighter monoplane.

The battleship USS Mississippi and the cruiser USS Birmingham become the first aircraft carriers to be used in warfare. They operate off Vera Cruz with five United States Navy (USN) seaplanes making reconnaissance flights over Mexican lines. The seaplanes are lowered over the side and take-off and land on the water.

25 April
Lieutenant P.N.L. Bellinger makes the first American operational sortie by aeroplane, searching for sea mines during the Santa Cruz incident. A total of five Curtiss AB flying boats are involved in the operation, flying from the battleship USS Mississippi and the cruiser USS Birmingham in an operation lasting 43 days.

18 May
The first regular Airmail service is inaugurated in German South West Africa with a Roland biplane, making its first flight between Swakopmund and Windhoek. The service comes to an end when British forces invade the country at the outbreak of the First World War.

28 June
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is assassinated in Sarajevo.

German R. Böhm remains airborne for 24 hours 12 minutes, flying an Albatros BI to establish the last international flight endurance record before the First World War.

Another German, H. Oelerich, flying a DFW BI, reaches an altitude of 8,150 metres (26,740 feet) and establishes the last international altitude record before the First World War.

7 July
Dr Robert H. Goddard receives a United States patent for a two-stage rocket with solid fuel propellant.

29 June
The first meal is served on an aeroplane, aboard Sikorski Ilya Mourometz I, during a flight from Petrograd to Kiev.

4 July
The American Georgia ‘Tiny’ Broadwick makes the first parachute jump with a manually operated parachute, at San Diego. The rip-cord might have been invented earlier but this was the first time it had been operated, as previous versions were only safety back-up systems to be used if the static line failed.

18 July
The Aviation Section of the United States Army Signal Corps is formed.

30 July
Norwegian Tryggve Gran makes the first flight across the North Sea, flying a Blériot monoplane.

31 July
The Swiss air arm is formed as the Fliegertruppe.

1 August
Germany declares war on Russia.

8 August
An unnamed observer of a French aircraft, piloted by Sadi Lecointe, is wounded by German rifle fire and becomes the first French casualty of the First World War.

12 August
Oberleutnant Reinhold Jahnow of the German Air Service becomes the first German airman to lose his life on active service when he is killed at Malmédy in Belgium.

Sergeant Bridou becomes the first French aviator to be killed on active service when he dies in an accident while returning to base from a reconnaissance mission.

14 August
Frenchmen Lieutenant Cesari and Corporal Prudhommeau attack the Zeppelin sheds at Metz-Frescaty.

15 August
The first recorded air battle has been censored so its location is unknown. A Reuters dispatch recorded “In another place a French aeroplane yesterday encountered a German aeroplane. The French pilot chased the German, firing with a Browning. The German aviator did not reply, but fled”.

23 August
Zeppelins LZ22 and LZ23 are shot down.

24 August
The French airship Dupuy-de-Lôme is shot down by French ground troops in an early example of a ‘friendly fire’ incident.

26 August
Staff Captain P.N. Nesterov of the Imperial Russian Army, brings down Leutnant Baron von Rosenthal in an Austrian aeroplane by ramming it. Nesterov is piloting a Morane Type M. Both are killed in the resulting crash.

30 August
Paris is bombed for the first time when Lieutenant Ferdinand von Hiddessen, piloting a Taube monoplane, drops five bombs on the Quai de Valmy, killing a woman and injuring two others.

27 September
The first French bomber Groupe is formed and is equipped with Voisin biplanes.

The French Aéronautique Militaire has expanded to 34 escadrilles, by far the largest air arm in the world.

5 October
Sergeant Joseph Frantz and Corporal Quénault of the French Air Force shoot down a German Aviatik two-seater over Jonchery in Reims. Their Voisin biplane is fitted with a machine gun.

Sikorsky Ilya Mouromets of the Imperial Russian Air Corps makes the first multi-engined bomber trials.

31 October
Russia declares war on Turkey.

13 November
1ère Groupe de Bombardement, Aviation Militaire in France is the first bomber squadron to be formed.

4 December
The German Navy forms its first seaplane unit.

9 December
German Leutnant Oswald Boelke receives a Fokker A1 reconnaissance monoplane.

10 December
The Russian Army EVK (Flotilla of Flying Ships) is formed and equipped with the first Ilya Mourometz long range bombers. The unit will eventually grow to 40-50 aircraft.

16 December
Two United States Army lieutenants demonstrate two-way radio between ground and air using a Burgess-Wright aeroplane.

Also this year…
The Chinese Army Air Arm is formed and equiped with French Caudron biplanes.

An Aviatik biplane, used to transport diamonds from Karibib to Windhoek in South-West Africa becomes the first regular commercial air-freight service.

The second Schneider Trophy contest is held at Monaco and won by Briton C. Howard Pixton flying a modified Sopwith Tabloid at an average speed of 139kph (86mph).