January 4: Mary Goodrich Jenson, Connecticut’s First Female Pilot

  In the heady days of early American aviation, when tales of plucky pilots and ingenious innovators were a dime a dozen, few pilots stood out from the crowd as much as Mary Goodrich Jenson, the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the state of Connecticut.  Born in Hartford in 1907, young Mary…

December 11: The World’s First Jet-Powered Helicopter

  Today in 1951, aerospace engineer Charles H. Kaman’s modified K-225 helicopter took its first test flight in Bloomfield, Connecticut, changing the future of helicopter aviation forever.  As the first helicopter to use a jet engine to power its drive shaft, the K-225 demonstrated a way to make helicopters able to fly faster and higher,…

October 11: Polar Explorer Richard Byrd Tours Connecticut

  In the 1920s and 1930s, few real-life figures captured the American imagination like Richard E. Byrd, the dashing Navy hero and polar explorer who gained international fame after becoming the first man to fly over the North and South poles.  After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and serving with distinction as a Navy…

October 9: The Hindenburg Flies Over Connecticut

  Today, the name “Hindenburg” is most closely associated with the fiery, disastrous crash that destroyed the famous dirigible in 1937.  Before its demise, however, the massive, 800-foot-long German airship was considered the pinnacle of modern aerospace engineering and luxury travel, and often attracted crowds of awe-struck spectators wherever it went.  Built over a period…

September 2: High-Flying Hijinks Over the Connecticut River

  Silas Markham Brooks, Connecticut’s first documented hot air balloonist, was one of many native Connecticans who pursued a colorful — if unpredictable — career as a consummate showman in the 19th century.  Born in Plymouth in 1824, Brooks worked in a local clock-making factory before being hired by P. T. Barnum to help manufacture…

August 23: Famous Aviator Wiley Post Visits Connecticut

  Today in 1933, Wiley Post, one of the most famous pilots in the world, flew into Hartford’s Brainard Field, just a few weeks after completing a record-breaking solo flight around the world. In the 1930s, Wiley Post was a household name second only to Charles Lindbergh in terms of famous American aviators.  Post, a…

August 14: Aviation Pioneer Gustave Whitehead Flies Into History

  One of the most controversial events in aviation history took place in Fairfield, Connecticut on this day in 1901, as inventor Gustave Whitehead executed a half-mile-long flight in his Flying Machine No. 21 at a height of 50 feet off the ground — over two years before the Wright Brothers made their much more…

May 19: America’s World War I Flying Ace Killed In Action

  Today in 1918, one of America’s greatest and most colorful World War I flying aces was killed in action after being shot down over France by a German triplane.  Raoul Lufbery, a proud Franco-American who had lived in Connecticut before joining the Allied war effort, was only 33 years old at the time. Born…

March 30: Igor Sikorsky, Inventor of the Helicopter, Arrives in United States

The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, based in Stratford, Connecticut since 1929, is a world leader in military and commercial helicopter production and is one of Connecticut’s most historically significant and globally influential businesses.  Sikorsky helicopters are used extensively in all five branches of the United States military, and its most recognizable craft — the UH-60 Black…