November is designated as National Aviation History Month. It is dedicated to the exploration, recognition, and celebration of America’s contributions and achievements in developing aviation.
Aviation history goes back to the earliest attempts to develop mechanical flight – from the early attempts to fly kites to powered, heavier-than-air crafts and finally to space crafts. The earliest record of flight is around 200 B.C. when a Chinese general flew a kite over enemy territory to gather intelligence. Abbas ibn Firnas demonstrated the first glider flight in 875 A.D. in Córdoba, Spain. In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vincï made sophisticated flight designs.
The first attempt to use buoyancy to make an unmanned flight was done in the third century when Zhuge Liang used hot air balloons for scaring away enemy troops and for military signals. Hydrogen and other gases were discovered during the 17th and 18th centuries, resulting in the invention of hydrogen balloons. The same period experienced the formation of various theories in mechanics, such as fluid dynamics as well as Newton’s laws of motion, which became the foundation of the science of aerodynamics.
Hot-air balloons became popular in the early 19th century, mostly for use in war efforts. Advances with hot air balloons formed the groundwork for the development of airplanes. By the early 20th century, advancements in aerodynamics and engine technology made possible a controlled, powered flight for the first time. Orville and Wilbur Wright are recognized as the pioneers of the first free-controlled flight and powered airplane. Their plane took off on December 17, 1903.
Washington State’s Aviation History
The people of Pierce County, Washington donated land to the government in 1917. The land was made into a military reservation. It was later named Camp Lewis and eventually Fort Lewis. An airfield was then established as part of the military reservation.
Tacoma Field was the first airport in the state, opening in March 1930. It was transferred in 1940 and was renamed McChord Field. McChord expanded to 3,000 acres after two decades to become McChord Air Force Base.
Air Force Bases
In addition to McChord, Washington State is home to several U.S. Air Force bases, including Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the Puget Sound area. Paine Air Force Base near Everett is now closed.
At Washington State Kitchen and Bath, we are proud to have many U.S. Air Force bases and stations in our home state.