Historic Aerospace Sites - Historical Markers
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics dedicated 58 markers recognizing significant accomplishments made by the aerospace industry. Some have not been installed yet, including one for Tranquility Base - The Moon.
To honor the long tradition of aerospace achievement, AIAA established the Historic Aerospace Sites (HAS) Program in January 2000 to promote the preservation and recognition of significant geographic locations, buildings, and facilities associated with significant accomplishments in aerospace history. This program was administered by AIAA headquarters with support from members of the History Committee, as it was not actually a History Committee function.
Over the course of the program, 60 unique sites were recognized. Most, if not all, had a commemorative plaque installed at the location. The mounting of the plaques differed from site to site. While most plaques have been mounted on interior or exterior walls of the facility or building, the Annonay plaque is in the middle of their town square, the plaque at the Rocket Site at Edwards is mounted in front of a rocket engine, and the plaque at the Air Force Flight Test Center, also at Edwards, is mounted on a boulder.
Typically, there was a dedication ceremony when the plaque was unveiled, although the scope of the ceremonies varied greatly. Some involved celebrity speakers, such as former astronaut Gordon Cooper along with then AIAA President Sheila Widnall at the Edwards Air Force Base site in 2000. These ceremonies took place in many venues, from the actual sites, to auditoriums, museums, and even a golf course.
The attendance at these ceremonies ranged from forty to hundreds; at several sites the entire company attended, plus alumni employees. Highlights of ceremonies include a rocket engine test firing, a flyover of F-117s, some military bands, a showcase of historic aircraft, and a reenactment of the first balloon launch of 1783—with costumes.
In 2013, the United States Government went into sequestration, and cut all budgets for all government agencies and departments. This eliminated travel and budget for conferences, including that for defense contractors and educational institutions. With commitments made and contracts signed for AIAA conferences, the Institute reportedly lost over a million dollars that year; which resulted in the end of the HAS program and a reorganization of the AIAA conference program.
A list of the Aerospace Historical Sites follows below. At the time of posting this information on this website, an effort to find a citation for each site is still in progress.
Credit: Most of this text has been excerpted from “The History of the AIAA History Committee,” a paper by Kevin R. Burns, presented at the AIAA SciTech forum in January 2022.
Aerojet Engineering Corporation First Plant
Pasadena, CA, USA
Year Selected 2000
Dedicated Nov. 2000
On this site in 1942, the Aerojet Engineering Company founded the first manufacturing facility for the production of rocket propulsion systems. This was done under the leadership of Aerojet's first president, Dr. Theodore von Kármán, world-renowned scientist and engineer from the California Institute of Technology. The plant remained here until 1945.
"The Rocket Site"
Edwards AFB, CA, USA
Year Selected 2000
Dedicated Nov. 2000
Leading the vision and evolution of Air Force rocket propulsion technology from its earliest days, the Rocket Site's men and women and their unique research, development, and test facilities have provided the discoveries, developments, and applications of scientific and engineering answers to national defense rocket propulsion needs for more than fifty years. April 1947 - January 2000.
Dutch Flats Airport
San Diego, CA, USA
Year Selected 2000
Dedicated April. 2001
On this site, which was the Dutch Flats Airport, Charles A. Lindbergh made the first flight of his Spirit of St. Louis airplane, constructed in 60 days by dedicated employees of Ryan Airlines, Inc. The 20-minute flight on 28 April 1927 was witnessed by those who built the aircraft. On this site on April 28, 1927, the Spirit of St Louis was flight tested by Charles A. Lindbergh. He later departed this site on May 10, 1927, for St Louis, New York, and Paris, France. Ryan NYP N-X-211
Air Force Flight Test Center
Edwards AFB, CA, USA
Year Selected 2001
Dedicated June. 2001
Called a “natural airdrome,” the Rogers Dry Lakebed and surrounding airspace, known as the Air Force Flight Test Center, has been and continues to be the optimum location for “first flights” and validation of high-performance and experimental aerospace vehicles. With the research, development, test, evaluation, and other support of Flight Test Center personnel, more major milestones in flight have occurred here than anywhere else in the world.
Goddard Rocket Launch Site
Auburn, MA, USA
Year Selected 2000
Dedicated July. 2001
On March 16, 1926 Dr. Robert H. Goddard launched the world’s first liquid propellant rocket from a point 1000 feet S.S.E. of this tablet on the property of the Asa M. Ward Family. Erected by the American Rocket Society July 13, 1960 in recognition of this significant achievement in the evolution of astronautics.
Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory
Canoga Park, CA, USA
Year Selected 2001
Dedicated Nov. 2001
On 15 November 1950, the SSFL conducted its first official test with a Rocketdyne-designed XLR43-NA-1 large liquid propellant rocket engine, which later became the Redstone engine. Encompassing 2558 acres, 18 large static test stands, 5 component test laboratories and an advanced test facility, the SSFL and its dedicated employees have provided significant contributions to U.S. rocketry and space programs for over 50 years.
NASA Langley Research Center
Hampton, VA, USA
Year Selected 2001
Dedicated April 26, 2002
The Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, now the core of the Langley Research Center, was a unique facility that served as the nexus of aerodynamic research in the U.S. from its beginning in 1917 to its transformation into NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1958. It achieved world renown for its variety of specialized research tools and its staff’s emphasis on practical solutions to the problems of flight.
First Balloon Launch Site
Year Selected 2001
Dedicated June, 2002
On 4 June 1783, Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier captured the imagination of the world with their first balloon flight at Cordeliers Square. There were no passengers, but the Regional Council and the whole town population saw the machine go up and stay aloft at 500 meters for ten minutes. The scientific world raced to make use of the Montgolfiers’ discovery, and all accomplishments made since then by aeronauts, aviators, and astronauts can be traced directly to this site.
Oakland Municipal Airport
Oakland, CA, USA
Year Selected 2002
Dedicated Sept. 2002
On Tuesday, June 28, 1927, at 7:08 a.m. Lieutenant Lester J. Maitland and Lieutenant Albert F. Hegenberger, Air Corps United States Army, took off from Oakland Municipal Airport on the first successful non-stop trans-Pacific air flight arriving at Wheeler Field, Schofield Barracks, Island of Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, on Wednesday, June 29, at 6:29 a.m., (Honolulu Time) covering a distance of 2416 miles.
Allegany Ballistics Lab
Rocket Center, WV, USA
Year Selected 2001
Dedicated Oct. 2002
Established in 1944 on the site of a former ammunition plant, this facility is one of the key locations that helped establish the U.S. solid rocket industry after World War II. Numerous tactical rocket motors and propulsion devices for the defense weaponry of the nation have been manufactured and tested at “Rocket Center,” including the case double base propellant process and the second stage of the Polaris missile.
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, AL, USA
Dedicated Oct. 30, 2002
Activated 1 July 1960 with the transfer of facilities and personnel from the US Army Ballistic Missile Agency, the center was named for General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, and author of the Marshall Plan. Anchored by Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of German scientists, joined with hundreds of U.S. engineers and scientists, the Center has been an integral part of the U.S. Space Program from the development of the first Redstone rocket through today.
North Island Naval Air Station
San Diego, CA, USA
Dedicated Mar. 2003
Known as the birthplace of Naval Aviation, North Island was the site of the first successful seaplane flight and the first amphibious flight in the U.S., both made by Glenn Curtiss. The first Naval pilot, Lt. T.G. Ellyson, was trained here at the Curtiss Aviation Camp. A flight school established here by Ellyson trained the next Naval aviators as well as the Navy’s first aviation maintenance personnel. North Island was also the site of the first night flight, and the home of the first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley.
The Boeing Red Barn
Seattle, WA, USA
Dedicated Apr. 2003
This former shipyard was the first home of The Boeing Company, founded in 1916. Affectionately called "the Red Barn," this structure, built in 1909, produced the first Boeing aircraft. Starting with the Model C, all early Boeing production took place in this building. Here, the entrepreneurial spirit of William E. Boeing, coupled with engineering innovation, ingenuity, and perseverance, paved the way for the quickly unfolding history of commercial aviation. The Red Barn is believed to be the oldest surviving aircraft manufacturing building in America.
Dayton, OH, USA
Dedicated Jul. 2003
On this 84-acre meadow in 1904 and 1905, the Wright Brothers successfully mastered the mechanics of controlled, powered, heavier-than-air flight. The brothers also built the world's first airport here, and in 1910 the Wright Company School of Aviation established a flying school on the site and trained many of the world's first pilots, including some of the first military pilots.
College Park Airport
College Park, MD, USA
Dedicated Oct. 2003
College Park Airport was founded in 1909 when the Wright Brothers came here to train the first military officers to fly. Other significant events at this field include the first testing of a bombsight (1911), the first testing of a machine gun from an airplane (1912), as well as the first controlled helicopter flight (1925). These and other achievements have earned College Park the nickname “The Field of Firsts.”
Pt. Mugu Naval Base
Pt. Mugu, CA, USA
Dedicated Nov. 2003
Established in 1946 to provide a comprehensive test and evaluation site for tactical missiles, Point Mugu has been instrumental in the development, test, evaluation and in- service support of systems including Regulus, Sparrow, Phoenix, Bullpup, Harpoon, SLAM, Tomahawk, Standard, and Rolling Airframe Missile. The first missile launch from an operational submarine was also accomplished at Pt. Mugu.
First Thiokol Manufacturing Plant
Elkton, MD, USA
Dedicated Apr. 2003
Thiokol established its original rocket propulsion factory here on in 1948 on a contract from U.S. Army Ordnance. Now a part of ATK Tactical Systems, Elkton’s decades of innovation for space and military programs using solid propellant rockets established its reputation as one of the major suppliers of solid propellant rocket motors in the country.
Bendix Aviation Corporation
Teterboro, NJ, USA
Dedicated May 2004
This site, originally the home of the Eclipse-Pioneer Division of the Bendix Aviation Corporation, has produced navigational instruments and engine components since 1938. Providing instruments that flew with Lindbergh across the Atlantic, and Admiral Byrd in the cold of Antarctica; from guiding American pilots in times of peace and war, to putting men on the moon, the “Bendix Invisible Crew” has been a leader in innovation and technology in the world of aviation and space exploration.
Arnold Engineering Development Company
Arnold AFB, TN, USA
Dedicated Jun. 2007
In recognition of Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) for its contributions to developing U.S. aircraft and space systems. In the spirit of General of the Air Force Hap Arnold, AEDC ensures America and its allies have air and space power second to none.
Kitty Hawk, NC, USA
Dedicated Aug. 2013
On this site on December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first sustained, controlled heavier-than-air flight of an aircraft, opening a new era of transportation throughout the world. Their pioneering spirit continues to inspire succeeding generations to dream, aspire, innovate, and create without limits.
Tranquility Base, The Moon
Aeronautical Concourse of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition St. Louis MO USA 2004 Nov. 2004 The world’s first flying competition was organized and conducted on this site during the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (popularly known as the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair). Aviators and aeronauts came here from around the world to participate in events held on the Aeronautic Concourse, roughly 14 acres leased from Washington University. These aeronautics events constituted some of the highlights of the fair.
Reaction Motors, Inc.
Denville, NJ, USA
Dedicated Sep. 2005
The first company in the United States dedicated solely to the production of the liquid rocket engine, Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI) was formed in 1941. Its four founders were rocket enthusiasts and members of the American Rocket Society. RMI developed the rocket motors that powered the first supersonic flight, that of the X-1; the retro rockets for five NASA surveyor lunar soft landers; and prepackaged liquid rocket engines for the U.S. Navy Bullpup A & B air to ground missiles, among many other pioneering programs. RMI became a division of Thiokol Chemical Corporation in 1958 and closed in 1972.
Farnborough Research Establishment
Dedicated Apr. 2005
Farnborough's aeronautical history began in 1905 with the arrival of HM Balloon Factory in 1905, headed by Lt Col J.L.B. Templer. In 1908, the first powered aeroplane flight in Great Britain took place here, piloted by Samuel Cody. In 1912, Lord Trenchard established the first headquarters of the Royal Flying Corps and in 1918 the Royal Aircraft Establishment was founded. Throughout the first century of aviation, Farnborough has been a leading centre for aeronautical research, with a worldwide reputation for scientific advance and innovation in all aspects of aerospace technology.
Purdue University Airport
West Lafayette, IN, USA
Dedicated Jul. 2005
The Purdue University Airport was the first collegiate owned airport in the United States. It hosted Amelia Earhart for her final adventure, was the training ground for test pilots such a Jimmy Johnson and Ivan Kincheloe, balloonist Malcolm Ross, and astronaut Neil Armstrong. Purdue University Airport and its people and programs pushed aviation’s evolution to new heights and helped expand the frontiers of flight.
First Motorized Flight in Canada
Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Canada
Dedicated No ceremony
On February 23rd, 1909, J.A. Douglas McCurdy, piloting the Silver Dart, took off from the Bras d’Or Lake and flew for close to one kilometer. The plane, made of steel tube, bamboo, wire and wood with wings covered in rubberized balloon silk silvered on one side, was created by Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell's Aerial Experiment Association formed in 1907 to build and fly experimental craft. The Silver Dart was the first powered, heavier-than-air vehicle to fly in Canada.
White Sands Missile Range
White Sands, NM, USA
Dedicated Oct. 2005
White Sands Proving Ground, as it was first called, is home to America’s first large-scale rocket and missile launch facilities. Established in 1945, the launching here of 67 V-2 rockets and many other vehicles propelled the United States into the Space Age. Scientists and military researchers learned to handle large rockets and improved the emerging technology. Vital experiments to learn about the nature of the upper atmosphere and the fringes of outer space were conducted here. Tests here also include those of the first air defense missile system, the Nike Ajax, and the first U.S. ballistic missile, the Corporal.
Naval Ordinance Test Center, China Lake
China Lake, CA, USA
Dedicated Apr. 2006
China Lake is one of the nation’s premier weapons laboratories. Established in 1943, China Lake supports Naval aviation and warfighter requirements, and will continue to arm the Fleet into the future. The Station conceived of and developed rockets during WWII; non-nuclear components for the first atomic bomb; Sidewinder, Shrike, and Walleye missiles; and the Polaris concept. China Lake developed NOTSNIK in 1958 and vital components for the Mars Lander in 2004. The Station, a world leader in aircraft weapons integration, testing, and electronic warfare, developed 75% of the air-launched weapons used during Vietnam and jointly developed 80% of those used during Iraqi Freedom.
NASA Johnson Space Center
Houston, TX, USA
Dedicated Jun. 2006
Since its establishment in 1961, the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, formerly Manned Spacecraft Center, has led America’s efforts in human space exploration. The numerous contributions of this site include advances in life and space sciences and spacecraft development, as well as the hosting of Mission Control and the Astronaut Corps. The Lyndon B. Johnson Center has played a vital role in all human space exploration programs from Gemini and Apollo, through Skylab and Space Shuttle, to the International Space Station; and is at the forefront of making future expeditions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond a reality.
Travelair Airplane Manufacturing Company
Wichita, KS, USA
Dedicated Sep. 2006
On this site the Travel Air Airplane Manufacturing Company, Inc. produced some of the most famous aircraft of the 1920s, including the Travel Air 5000 and the sleek “Mystery Ship” air racer, winner of the 1929 Thompson Trophy. Travel Air also brought together for the first time four legends of world aviation: Walter Beech, Olive Ann Mellor, Clyde Cessna, and Lloyd Stearman. Together, the founders and employees of Travel Air helped launch the general aviation industry and firmly established Wichita, Kansas as the world’s Air Capital.
Home of Alberto Santos Dumont
Petropolis, Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Dedicated Sep. 2006
Born 20 July 1873 in the state of Sao Paolo, Alberto Santos Dumont moved to Paris in 1891 but never forgot his birthplace. He soon began experimenting with flying, and designed his first balloon, the Brasil, in 1898. He later built and flew 11 dirigibles, including the prize-winning Number 6. He flew his first airplane, the 14 bis, on 23 October 1906, the first aircraft to take off and land without any external assistance. His many other contributions to aviation included his 1909 Demoiselle, the precursor to modern light airplanes. He returned to Brazil in 1928 and died in 1932.
Wharton, NJ, USA
Dedicated Oct. 2006
Built in 1880 as the Piccatinny Powder Depot, this site was the major supplier of smokeless powder to the military for many years. Since World War II, Picatinny Arsenal has been at the forefront of research, design, and development of a wide variety of advanced munitions for ground, airborne and seaborne platforms, including precision and smart munitions, artillery projectiles, submunitions, anti-tank projectiles, shoulder fired rockets, advanced antitank warheads, explosively formed penetrators, small and medium caliber munitions and other specialized items contributing to the security of the nation.
Rentschler Field (Pratt & Whitney)
East Hartford, CT, USA
Dedicated Jul. 2008
In 1925, Frederick B. Rentschler, former president of Wright Aeronautical Corp., approached Pratt & Whitney, a large tooling business founded in Hartford before the Civil War, with a proposal for a revolutionary new air-cooled aircraft engine. Under the name Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Co., Rentschler used a production site in Hartford and later in East Hartford to develop and manufacture the Wasp engine, greatly advancing the state of the art for aircraft propulsion. Ultimately, his company went on to become United Aircraft Corp. and later United Technologies Corp. “to connote the breadth of its products, markets and activities.” Throughout most of the 20th century, this airfield witnessed numerous tests and successes in the development of aircraft engines, gas turbines and space propulsion systems.
Cape Canaveral, FL, USA
Dedicated Jan. 2008
Established by the United States Air Force in 1950 as the Joint Long Range Proving Ground, this area supported the initial development of America’s space program. The era of the Space Age for the U.S. began on this site with the launch of America’s first satellite, Explorer I, in 1958; followed soon after with the launch of America’s first astronaut, Alan Shepard, in 1961. Known today as Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the base has hosted more than three thousand launches including manned missions, robotic voyages exploring our solar system, and military missions designed to protect the American way of life.
Vandenberg Air Force Base
Vandenberg AFB, CA, USA
Dedicated Mar. 30, 2009
Bearing witness to the birth of the Space Age, Vandenberg Air Force Base has been the launch site of many of America's missiles and rockets, from military missions to voyages of exploration. Here launched the first polar orbiting satellite Discoverer I in 1959. The Discoverer series of satellites were the public name of the now declassified Corona Program, America's first photo reconnaissance satellite. This site has also been home to the training of the crews and test flights of many of America's Intermediate-Range and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile systems. From 1957 to the present day, Vandenberg has been an integral part of America's space and defense programs.
Patuxent River Naval Air Station
Patuxent River NAS, MD, USA
Dedicated Jun. 2006
This Museum is the vision of a group of Navy and civilian personnel who in 1974 set out to formally organize a museum to preserve and celebrate the history of the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River. They received support from the community, the county, and the State; and in 1978 the Naval Air Test & Evaluation Museum opened in a building on grounds provided by the Naval Air Station. The building was originally built as the USO Canteen toward the end of World War II. In 1992, the Secretary of the Navy designated the Museum as one of the ten official Navy museums. In 1997, the Museum’s name was changed to the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum to reflect its new mission of preserving and interpreting the research, development, testing & evaluation of naval aircraft and their related systems. The Museum is the repository for all of the artifacts, photographs & films, documents and other heritage memorabilia from Patuxent River, and other stations, such as Warminster, Pennsylvania, and Trenton, New Jersey, now all consolidated at Patuxent River under the Naval Air Systems Command and the Naval Air Warfare
Great Kills Park (ARS site)
Staten Island, NY, USA
Dedicated Oct. 2006
Cincinnati, OH, USA
Dedicated Jul. 2007
The Cincinnati Observatory, “The Birthplace of American Astronomy,” is the oldest professional observatory in the United States. Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel, the “Father of American Astronomy,” founded the observatory in 1842. John Quincy Adams laid the cornerstone for the observatory on Mt. Ida, later renamed Mt. Adams. The original Merz und Mahler 11-inch refractor telescope was put into service in 1845 and is still in use here today on Mount Lookout. The 1873 Herget Building, which incorporates the original Adams’ cornerstone, was designed by famed architect Samuel Hannaford.
GE Re-entry Systems
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Dedicated Oct. 2007
From 1956 to 1993, employees of General Electric’s Re-Entry Systems at this site solved great challenges of national security, defense and manned space exploration; including technologies used for the successful re-entry of Earth’s atmosphere; the development of the first operational heat sink and ablative reentry vehicles; the first successful recovery of a man-made object from orbit from an intercontinental ballistic missile flight; the development of the first ablative planetary entry probes to Venus and Jupiter; and the creation of the first operational multiple independently targeted re-entry system.
NASA Stennis Space Center
Dedicated Apr. 2008
This rocket propulsion test complex was created to flight- certify all first and second stages of the Apollo Saturn V rocket. The first test-firing occurred on April 23, 1966. Subsequent to the Apollo Program, these test stands were modified to support the testing requirements of the Space Shuttle Main Engine. Every astronaut who traveled to the moon aboard Saturn V Rockets and into space aboard the Space Shuttle, did so on rocket stages and engines that were first proven flight-worthy on these test stands.
Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory/Calspan
Buffalo, NY, USA
Dedicated Dec. 1, 2010
Established in 1943 as the research laboratory for the Curtiss Wright Aircraft Company, the “Lab” was donated to Cornell University in 1945. Its charter as the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (C.A.L.) was to be “an instrument of service to the aircraft industry – to education – to the public at large.” C.A.L. conducted pioneering research that led to revolutionary changes in the conception, understanding, and treatment of aircraft stability and control. Now known as Calspan, it has pioneered early research into aircraft safety which in turn was applied to the automotive industry. C.A.L. and Calspan innovated developments in entirely new areas such as netted air defense systems, modern weather prediction, pattern recognition, automation, and transportation safety systems. As a pioneer of America’s missile program, they contributed greatly to the exploration of space and to the development of space transportation systems. Their work in aviation and transportation safety has improved the lives of countless people around the world.
Woomera Launch Facility
Woomera, South Australia, Australia
Dedicated May 2007
Established in 1947 as a joint project between Britain and Australia, the Long Range Weapon Establishment, more familiarly known as the Woomera Rocket Range, has a long and distinguished history of weapon testing and missile launches, including Skylark, Black Knight, and Europa. The first Australian satellite was launched here in 1967. Woomera also aided in the tracking of early satellites and the Mercury manned spacecraft. For over 60 years, Woomera has been an integral part of the defense and aerospace efforts in Australia and around the world.
FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center
Atlantic City, NJ, USA
This Federal Laboratory has played a pivotal role in creating our modern air traffic control system. Established as the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center in 1958, the Technical Center’s research and engineering achievements, and its direct support to airports and FAA air traffic control facilities have led to the highest level of safety in air transportation. For more than 50 years, the Technical Center’s world-class laboratories and top-notch technical expertise have made it the cornerstone for aviation advancements in air traffic management, communications, navigation, airports, aircraft safety, and security.
1940 Air Terminal, Hobby Airport
Houston, TX, USA
Dedicated Apr. 18, 2009
The 1940 Air Terminal is a beautiful and rare example of classic art deco airport architecture from the golden age of flight. Designed by noted architect Joseph Finger, the Terminal was built to meet Houston’s growing role as a major center for air commerce in the 1930s. Its grand opening by the City of Houston took place on September 28, 1940, at Houston Municipal Airport, now known as Hobby Airport. The 1940 Air Terminal was a destination for early airline service from points across Texas and the United States and international service, beginning in 1948. The 1940 Air Terminal also was at the center of early business aviation and general aviation. Within its walls, the 1940 Air Terminal housed rapidly advancing air traffic control and meteorological technology. It served as Houston’s primary commercial air terminal until 1954.
Dedicated May, 2011
On 17 January 1923, Juan de la Cierva’s C.4 Autogiro made its first successful flight at this site with Lieutenant Alejandro Gómez Spencer at the controls. The Cierva Autogiro was the first practical rotorcraft, and many aspects of its design were critical to the development of helicopters and other vertical lift aircraft. Between 1920 and 1924, Juan de la Cierva tested four prototype Autogiros at Getafe; and after numerous attempts, solved his control problems with flapping blade hinges.
Dunsfold United Kingdom 2008 No ceremony
NASA Ames Research Center
Mountain View, CA, USA
Dedicated Aug. 2009
Ames Aeronautical Laboratory was established in 1939 as the second laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Ames achieved early fame in wind tunnel design and testing, flight testing, and supersonic and hypersonic aerodynamics. In 1958 Ames became a founding part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and did pioneering research in rotorcraft and vertical flight aircraft, spacecraft engineering, supercomputing and information technology, air traffic control, thermal protection for re-entry vehicles, astrobiology and space life sciences, and Earth and planetary sciences.
Rockwell/North American Industrial Site
Downey, CA, USA
Dedicated May 2010
This was the site of EMSCO Aircraft, Security Aircraft, Champion Aircraft, Consolidated Vultee, North American Aviation, Rockwell International, and Boeing North American Rockwell from 1929 to 1999. It is here where pioneers of California Aerospace designed and developed the technologies and products which trained pilots for WWII and established a foundation for a missile defense system. The site’s final mission, as the home of Apollo and the Space Shuttle, took America to the threshold of space and the moon.
Igor Sikorsky Airport and Vought-Sikorsky Plant
Bridgeport, CT, USA
Dedicated Sep. 2013
Many important aircraft were developed and tested at this field and the adjacent Vought-Sikorsky aircraft plant, including a fighter, the XF4U, that later became the Corsair. But this site is best known for the work done here from 1939- 1942, with the design, construction, testing and demonstration of the first practical helicopters flown in the United States. Igor Sikorsky and his team pioneered the VS-300 helicopter, featuring the configuration that has since become the convention for most helicopters. Their work placed the helicopter in the public consciousness to the degree that by 1943, the U.S. was experiencing a “helicopter craze,” with literally hundreds of entrepreneurs seeking to imitate them, thereby establishing the U.S. helicopter industry.
Eglin AFB, FL, USA
The Valparaiso Bombing and Gunnery Base, activated 14 Jun 1935 under command of Capt Arnold H. Rich, was renamed Eglin Field in 1937 for Lt Col Frederick I. Eglin, U.S. Air Corps. The first missions of Eglin were to provide both bombing and gunnery training for new pilots and testing of Army Air Corps aircraft and other systems. Eglin’s dual role of training and testing continued through World War II, with the establishment of the Air Corps Specialized Flying School and the Air Proving Ground Command. Today, Eglin continues to provide state-of-the-art munitions testing, personnel training and other combat support capabilities for the Air Force, DOD, industry and U.S. allies.
Tidbinbilla/Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Array
Tidbinbilla, ACT, Australia
Dedicated May 25, 2010
Between 1964 and 1967 three complementary tracking stations were established in the ACT, at Tidbinbilla, Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley, to support NASA's Deep Space Network, Manned Space Flight Network and Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network. Amongst other notable achievements, the Tidbinbilla and Honeysuckle Creek stations played a key role in supporting the Apollo 11 Moon landing, with the Honeysuckle Creek station providing the first historic pictures of man walking on the Moon on 21 July 1969 (20 July 1969, USA), as well as voice and telemetry contact with the lunar module; the Orroral Valley station provided telecommunication support to the joint Apollo- Soyuz project in 1975, and in April 1981 supported the first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. While the Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley Tracking Stations were closed in the 1980s, Tidbinbilla continues to provide support for deep space missions today.
First Commercial Transport Flight, FL Yacht Basin
St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Dedicated Oct. 2010
On January 1, 1914, the "aeroplane" was demonstrated as a viable means of commercial transportation with the inaugural flight of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, the world's first regularly scheduled commercial airline. Piloted by Tony H. Jannus, the Benoist Type XIV airboat departed for Tampa from the St. Petersburg Central Yacht Basin, carrying freight and one passenger across Tampa Bay, and initiating service of two round-trips daily between St. Petersburg and Tampa. Supported by the St. Petersburg Board of Trade, and including a flight school, the airline maintained regular operation until its last official flight on May 5, 1914.
Site of T.S. Lowe’s 1861 Balloon Launch
Washington, DC, USA
Dedicated Jun. 2011
On June 18, 1861, T.S.C. Lowe made a tethered observation flight with his gas-filled balloon Enterprise from a spot on the National Mall in front of where the National Air and Space Museum now stands. During this flight, he sent the first telegram ever dispatched from the air to President Lincoln in the White House, describing what could be seen from an altitude of 500 feet. The ascent marked the beginning of an observation balloon corps for the U.S. Army, the first American military aeronautical unit, and the birth of aerial reconnaissance in the United States.
Dedicated Oct 6, 2011
Bremen Airport was founded in 1913 when the senate of Bremen commissioned the Bremen Association for Air Navigation, itself established in 1909, to operate a flight base. The base opened in 1920. Aircraft manufacturers Focke-Wulff Flugzeugbau AG began operating here in 1924, and the state airline Deutsche Luft Hansa, formed from the merger of Aero Lloyd and Junkers Aviation AG, began operating in 1926. On June 26, 1936, the first fully operational helicopter of the world, the Fw 61, made its successful maiden flight at the Bremen Airport with test pilot Ewald Rohlfs at the controls. The airport’s facilities were destroyed during World War II, but were rebuilt soon after. Today, the airport serves the entire region, with millions of passengers using the airport each year.
Delta Airline Headquarters
Atlanta, GA, USA
Dedicated Nov. 2011
This site commemorates the historic partnership between Delta Air Lines, the City of Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. On March 1, 1941, Delta officially moved its corporate headquarters to Atlanta on leased airport property, constructing offices and Hangar 1, the largest aircraft hangar in the Southeast. In 1947, the complex doubled in size, with Hangar 2 and an executive building, housing the office of Delta founder C.E. Woolman. Today, the original 1940s buildings of Delta’s headquarters are the oldest existing facilities on Atlanta airport property.
Space Park (TRW/Northrop Grumman)
Hawthorne, CA, USA
Dedicated Dec. 2011
Beginning in 1961, at what was then the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, the dedicated employees of Space Park designed and built more than 100 of the world's most technically challenging satellites, rocket engines and astronomical observatories. The technologies they developed and continue to develop, led to such breakthroughs as NASA Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to leave our solar system; the descent engine for the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module; the Defense Department’s Milstar satellite communication network; NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System “Switchboard in the Sky” and astronomy and science satellites such as the Chandra X-ray observatory.
Vancouver, WA, USA
Dedicated Sep. 2012
Pearson Field is the first airport in the Pacific Northwest and one of the oldest operating airports in the United States. It served as a major military airfield in the interwar years. In 1905, a dirigible originating from the nearby Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition landed at Fort Vancouver Polo grounds, initiating an enduring and illustrious connection to aeronautics and record-breaking endurance flights. Starting in 1923, the airport played a key role in the development of U.S. Air Power and general aviation in the Pacific Northwest.
Willow Grove, PA, USA
Dedicated Jul. 2013
On December 18, 1928, Arthur Rawson, followed by Harold F. Pitcairn, flew a Cierva C.8W Autogiro. This was the first successful rotary-wing aircraft to fly in America. Pitcairn Field – Willow Grove became the center of American Autogiro development and manufacture. The development of the helicopter in America was made possible in part by the rotary-wing patents held by Pitcairn. For their efforts, Pitcairn and his associates were awarded the 1930 Collier Trophy.
Cincinnatti, OH, USA
Dedicated Sep. 2013
Beginning in the 1920s with Dixie Davis’ barnstorming and flying lessons, this site was a center of civil aviation activities. Several aircraft companies started here, including the Lunken Family’s Aeronautical Corporation of America (Aeronca) and the Metal Aircraft Corporation. The Embry Riddle Company delivered passengers and mail here, and it was the site of the first government-approved U.S. flight school. Embry Riddle formed the Aviation Company in 1928 here, which became American Airways in 1930, the predecessor of American Airlines.
Bell Aircraft Plant
Wheatfield, NY, USA
Dedicated Oct. 2012
On October 14th, 1947, the Bell XS-1 became the first aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound. Designed and built by Bell Aircraft, the XS-1 was one of many significant aerospace achievements by Bell on this site. During World War II over 12,000 Bell fighter aircraft were built here, including the P- 59, America’s first jet. Other significant milestones include the Bell 47, America’s first commercially certified helicopter, the Lunar Lander Training Vehicle, without which Neil Armstrong said he would not have been able to land safely on the moon, and the Apollo Lunar Module ascent engine, which lifted all twelve astronauts that walked on the Moon back into lunar orbit to begin their return journey to the Earth.