Maiden flight
The maiden flight of an aircraft is the first occasion on which an aircraft leaves the ground of its own accord. This is similar to a ship's maiden voyage
Maiden voyage
The maiden voyage of a ship, aircraft or other craft is the first journey made by the craft after shakedown. A number of traditions and superstitions are associated with it....


The first flight of a new aircraft type is always a historic occasion for the type. It is also one of the most dangerous, because the exact handling characteristics of the aircraft are generally unknown. The first flight of a new type is almost invariably flown by a highly experienced test pilot
Test pilot
A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated....

. First flights are usually accompanied by a chase plane
Chase plane
A chase plane is an aircraft that "chases" another aircraft, a spacecraft or a rocket during flight. Safety can be one function of a chase plane; others are to photo or video the target vehicle, or to collect engineering data from it...

, to verify items like altitude, airspeed, and general airworthiness
Airworthiness is a term used to describe whether an aircraft has been certified as suitable for safe flight. Certification is initially conferred by a Certificate of Airworthiness from a National Airworthiness Authority, and is maintained by performing required maintenance actions by a licensed...


A first flight is only one stage in the development of an aircraft type. Unless the type is a pure research aircraft (such as the X-15), the aircraft must be tested extensively to ensure that it delivers the desired performance with an acceptable margin of safety. In the case of civilian aircraft, a new type must be certified by a governing agency (such as the Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

 in the United States) before it can enter operation.

Notable first flights

An incomplete list of first flights of notable aircraft types, organized by date, follows.
  • June, 1875 – Thomas Moy's Aerial Steamer, London, England (no pilot and attache)
  • October 9, 1890 – Clément Ader
    Clément Ader
    Clément Ader was a French inventor and engineer born in Muret, Haute Garonne, and is remembered primarily for his pioneering work in aviation.- The inventor :...

     From Gretz-Armainvilliers
    Gretz-Armainvilliers is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France.-External links:* * *...

    , Ouest of Paris, France
  • August 14, 1901 – Gustave Whitehead
    Gustave Whitehead
    Gustave Albin Whitehead, born Gustav Albin Weisskopf was an aviation pioneer who emigrated from Germany to the U.S., where he designed and built early flying machines and engines meant to power them....

     From Leutershausen
    Leutershausen is a municipality in the district of Ansbach, in Bavaria, Germany. It is situated on the river Altmühl, 12 km west of Ansbach.-History:...

    , Bavaria
  • May 15, 1902 – Lyman Gilmore
    Lyman Gilmore
    Lyman Wiswell Gilmore, Jr. was an aviation pioneer. In Grass Valley, California, USA, he built a steam-powered airplane and claimed that he flew it on May 15, 1902. Due to the requirement of a heavy boiler and the dependency on coal as a power source, the flights would have been short...

     From Grass Valley
    Grass Valley, California
    -2010:The 2010 United States Census reported that Grass Valley had a population of 12,860. The population density was 2,711.3 people per square mile . The racial makeup of Grass Valley was 11,493 White, 46 African American, 208 Native American, 188 Asian, 9 Pacific Islander, 419 from other...

    , California
  • March 31, 1903 – Richard Pearse
    Richard Pearse
    Richard William Pearse , son of Cornish immigrants from St Columb near Newquay, a New Zealand farmer and inventor who performed pioneering experiments in aviation....

     From Waitohi Flat, Temuka, South Island, New Zealand
  • December 17, 1903 – Wright brothers
    Wright brothers
    The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

     Wright Flyer
    Wright Flyer
    The Wright Flyer was the first powered aircraft, designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903 near the Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S.The U.S...

  • March 18, 1906 – Traian Vuia
    Traian Vuia
    Traian Vuia was a Romanian inventor and aviation pioneer who designed, builtand flew an early aircraft. His first flight traveled about 12 m at Montesson, France on March 18, 1906...

    , a Romanian
    The Romanians are an ethnic group native to Romania, who speak Romanian; they are the majority inhabitants of Romania....

     engineer, flew in Montesson
    Montesson is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris.-External links:*

     near Paris.
  • October 23, 1906 – Alberto Santos Dumont 14-bis flight.
  • July 4, 1908 - Glenn Curtiss
    Glenn Curtiss
    Glenn Hammond Curtiss was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle then motorcycle builder and racer, later also manufacturing engines for airships as early as 1906...

     flew the first pre-announced public flight of a heavier-than-air flying machine. He flew 5,080 feet, to win the Scientific American
    Scientific American
    Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

     Trophy and its $2,500 purse. Curtiss later received U.S. Pilot's license #1 from the Aero Club of America
    Aero Club of America
    The Aero Club of America was a social club formed in 1905 by Charles Glidden and others to promote aviation in America. It was the parent organization of numerous state chapters, the first being the Aero Club of New England. It thrived until 1923, when it transformed into the National Aeronautic...

  • July 28, 1935 – Boeing
    The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

     B-17 Flying Fortress.
  • December 17, 1935 – Douglas DC-3
    Douglas DC-3
    The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

  • December 29, 1939 – Consolidated B-24.
  • November 2, 1947 – Hughes H-4 Hercules
    Hughes H-4 Hercules
    The Hughes H-4 Hercules is a prototype heavy transport aircraft designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft company. The aircraft made its only flight on November 2, 1947 and the project was never advanced beyond the single example produced...

    . The only flight of this oversized flying boat.
  • July 27, 1949 – de Havilland
    De Havilland
    The de Havilland Aircraft Company was a British aviation manufacturer founded in 1920 when Airco, of which Geoffrey de Havilland had been chief designer, was sold to BSA by the owner George Holt Thomas. De Havilland then set up a company under his name in September of that year at Stag Lane...

    De Havilland Comet
    The de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the world's first commercial jet airliner to reach production. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland at the Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom headquarters, it first flew in 1949 and was a landmark in aeronautical design...

    . First jet airliner.
  • August 23, 1954 – Lockheed
    Lockheed Corporation
    The Lockheed Corporation was an American aerospace company. Lockheed was founded in 1912 and later merged with Martin Marietta to form Lockheed Martin in 1995.-Origins:...

     C-130 Hercules
    C-130 Hercules
    The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

    . Military transport.
  • May 27, 1955 – Sud Aviation Caravelle
    Sud Aviation Caravelle
    The Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle was the first short/medium-range jet airliner produced by the French Sud Aviation firm starting in 1955 . The Caravelle was one of the more successful European first generation jetliners, selling throughout Europe and even penetrating the United States market, with...

    , first jet airliner with engines mounted in the tail.
  • April 25, 1962 – Lockheed A-12 Blackbird. Supersonic spyplane.
  • June 29, 1962 -Vickers VC10
    Vickers VC10
    The Vickers VC10 is a long-range British airliner designed and built by Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd, and first flown in 1962. The airliner was designed to operate on long-distance routes with a high subsonic speed and also be capable of hot and high operations from African airports...

    . First airliner with 4 engines mounted in the tail.
  • April 9, 1967 – Boeing 737
    Boeing 737
    The Boeing 737 is a short- to medium-range, twin-engine narrow-body jet airliner. Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engine airliner derived from Boeing's 707 and 727, the 737 has developed into a family of nine passenger models with a capacity of 85 to 215 passengers...

    . Medium-range airliner.
  • October 4, 1968 – Tupolev 154. Soviet/Russian airliner, still in operation.
  • December 31, 1968 – Tupolev
    Tupolev is a Russian aerospace and defence company, headquartered in Basmanny District, Central Administrative Okrug, Moscow. Known officially as Public Stock Company Tupolev, it is the successor of the Tupolev OKB or Tupolev Design Bureau headed by the Soviet aerospace engineer A.N. Tupolev...

     Tu-144. Soviet supersonic airliner.
  • February 9, 1969 – Boeing 747
    Boeing 747
    The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

    . First widebody airliner.
  • March 2, 1969 – Anglo-French Concorde
    Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

    . Supersonic airliner.
  • September 19, 1969 – Mil Mi-24
    Mil Mi-24
    The Mil Mi-24 is a large helicopter gunship and attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for 8 passengers. It is produced by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and operated since 1972 by the Soviet Air Force, its successors, and by over thirty other nations.In NATO circles the export...

     Russian/Soviet-made helicopter used by many countries to this day.
  • February 22, 1987 – Airbus A320
    Airbus A320 family
    The Airbus A320 family is a family of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger jet airliners manufactured by Airbus Industrie.Airbus was originally a consortium of European aerospace companies, and is now fully owned by EADS. Airbus's name has been Airbus SAS since 2001...

     airliner, the first civil aircraft to have an all-digital fly-by-wire
    Fly-by-wire is a system that replaces the conventional manual flight controls of an aircraft with an electronic interface. The movements of flight controls are converted to electronic signals transmitted by wires , and flight control computers determine how to move the actuators at each control...

  • December 21, 1988 – Antonov
    Antonov, or Antonov Aeronautical Scientist/Technical Complex , formerly the Antonov Design Bureau, is a Ukrainian aircraft manufacturing and services company with particular expertise in the field of very large aircraft construction. Antonov ASTC is a state-owned commercial company...

     An-225 Mriya
    Antonov An-225
    The Antonov An-225 Mriya is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft, designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s. It is the world's heaviest aircraft. The design, built in order to transport the Buran orbiter, was an enlargement of the successful An-124 Ruslan...

    . The jet with the longest fuselage and wingspan and overall heaviest aircraft.
  • June 12, 1994 – Boeing 777
    Boeing 777
    The Boeing 777 is a long-range, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It is the world's largest twinjet and is commonly referred to as the "Triple Seven". The aircraft has seating for over 300 passengers and has a range from , depending on model...

    . Long-range airliner with the most powerful jet engines ever made.
  • April 27, 2005 – Airbus
    Airbus SAS is an aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of EADS, a European aerospace company. Based in Blagnac, France, surburb of Toulouse, and with significant activity across Europe, the company produces around half of the world's jet airliners....

    Airbus A380
    The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. It is the largest passenger airliner in the world. Due to its size, many airports had to modify and improve facilities to accommodate it...

    . Doubledecker jetairliner, currently largest capacity in the world.
  • December 15, 2006 – F-35 Lightning II
    F-35 Lightning II
    The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability...

     – fifth-generation, stealth multirole fighter.
  • December 11, 2009 – Airbus A400M
    Airbus A400M
    The Airbus A400M, also known as the Atlas, is a multi-national four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities. The aircraft's maiden flight, originally planned for 2008, took place on 11 December 2009 in...

     Airbus first propeller plane.
  • December 15, 2009 – Boeing 787
    Boeing 787
    The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It seats 210 to 290 passengers, depending on the variant. Boeing states that it is the company's most fuel-efficient airliner and the world's first major airliner to use...

     Dreamliner, the first major widebody airliner to use non-metal composite material
    Composite material
    Composite materials, often shortened to composites or called composition materials, are engineered or naturally occurring materials made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties which remain separate and distinct at the macroscopic or...

    s for most of its construction.
  • January 29, 2010 – Sukhoi PAK FA
    Sukhoi PAK FA
    The Sukhoi PAK FA is a twin-engine jet fighter being developed by Sukhoi OKB for the Russian Air Force. The Sukhoi T-50 is the prototype for PAK FA. The PAK FA is one of only a handful of stealth jet programs globally...

    , first Russian fifth generation fighter aircraft.
  • February 8, 2010 – 747-8 first flight of freighter version of the stretched version of the Boeing 747.
  • January 11, 2011 – Chengdu J-20
    Chengdu J-20
    The Chengdu J-20 is a purported fifth-generation, stealth, twin-engine fighter aircraft prototype developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force . In late 2010, the J-20 underwent high speed taxiing tests. The J-20 made its first flight on 11...

    , first flight of Chinese 5th generation fighter aircraft.
  • March 20, 2011– 747-8, first flight of the intercontinental version of the stretched version of the Boeing 747.
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