Special Report

This Is America's First Military War Plane

Flight pioneers the Wright brothers first flew a powered airplane on Dec. 17, 1903. Known as the Wright Flyer, it was aloft for only 12 seconds. Orville Wright lived until 1948 but was out of the plane business by 1915, when the company he helped found was sold. 

At first, the airplane had little practical purpose as it could not carry passengers or freight. The early years of flying were plagued by accidents. Still, the plane became a weapon almost immediately. In 1908, the Wright brothers launched the Wright Military Flyer, America’s first military warplane. During one of the early flights, a crash killed a military officer. The Wrights returned with a similar plane in 1909.

The U.S. Army Signal Corp took charge of air machine matters in 1907, and in 1912, Congress for the first time appropriated funds for Army air matters. The 1st Provisional Aero Squadron was organized in March 1913, and by the start of World War I, the 1st Aero Squadron represented the entire U.S. Army. It had six airplanes. (This is the world’s largest air force.)

To determine America’s first military war plane and other significant war planes, 24/7 Wall St. looked at several hundred combat aircraft used by the U.S. military over the course of more than a century and picked a group that best represents advances in technology or aircraft that were an extremely important part of America’s war efforts.

Click here to see America’s first military war plane

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