Henri Pequet (1) flew the first official flight in India in Sommer (2) biplane, powered by 50 hp Gnôme engine, on 18 Feb 1911. This is the also the first recorded airmail flight (3). Pequet carried more than 6000 pieces of mail over a distance of 6 miles from Allahabad to Naini in Northern India.
Not just in India, this was a year of pioneers in aviation elsewhere too (4). The first flights also took place in New Zealand and Japan, where Vivian Walsh and Captain Tokugawa were the pioneering pilots, respectively. This year also saw the birth of charter flights, when Tom Sopwith made delivery of a pair of glasses to a wealthy passenger cruising, by dropping it on the deck of the ocean liner, Olympic.
This was also the year of setting aviation records (4). Edouard Nieuport established the speed record of 74 m.p.h., further improving it to 87 m.p.h. Oliver Wright set up a record of staying afloat for nine and a three quarter of minutes in a glider at Kitty Hawk. The first flight from the east to the west coast was flown by Cal Rodgers in the Wright EX aircraft. Rodgers undertook this flight from Sheepshead Bay, NY to Long Beach, CA, taking about a month to deliver the first airmail pouch in the US.
1911 saw the first aerial bombings too (4). While Myron Crissy and Philip Pamelee demonstrated live bombing in US Army tests at San Francisco; it was Carlo Piaxxa of the Italian Air Flotilla who dropped grenades on Turkish army in war. Aircraft set out to became an integral part of the navies as well, when Eugene Ely successfully landed a Curtiss biplane on USS Pennsylvania (4).
It was indeed an year of happenings – circa 1911 in aviation!
1. Henri Pequet
2. Roger Sommer
Further Reading: Beginning of Aviation in India
Acknowledgement: Image courtesy Early Birds of Aviation, Inc.