"An uninterrupted navigable ocean that comes to the threshold of every man's door, ought not to be neglected as a source of human gratification and advantage."
—Sir George Cayley, English engineer, 1816
Between the first flights of the Wright brothers in 1903 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the airplane grew from an ancient dream into a reality that would shape the future.
Early Flight uses artifacts like the Lilienthal Glider, 1909 Wright Military Flyer, and the Blériot XI to explore how in one short decade people in America and around the world were pushing boundaries, setting records, participating in air shows, and turning the aircraft into a technology that would usher in the aerial age.
A view inside the gallery.
A section of the exhibit that looks at the public enthusiasm for aviation.
Follow along as our experts conserve the 1909 Wright Military Flyer, which will be on display in the Early Flight gallery.
The Museum gratefully acknowledges those who have generously supported this gallery.
Glenn and Donna Boutilier
Richard W. McKinney
A major renovation is underway as we reimagine our galleries and presentation spaces in our iconic National Mall building in Washington, DC. Join us as we inspire a new generation of pioneers and explorers.