These aviation firsts from Massachusetts may surprise you

The state’s claims to fame involve balloons, dirigibles, helicopters, jet engines, and more.

Associated Press

> 17 — The federal minimum age for earning a private pilot’s certificate

> 18 — Number of prototype planes in the First National Exhibition of Aerial Craft, held in 1910 at Mechanics Hall on Huntington Avenue


> 60 — Speed in m.p.h. achieved in first liquid fuel rocket flight, March 16, 1926, directed by Robert Goddard at a farm in Auburn

> April 18, 1942 — General Electric engineers in Lynn successfully test the I-A, the first US-built jet engine

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> 1,308 — Number of flights made by the first private, commercially operated dirigible, flown by the New England Airship Company of New Bedford

> 404 — Top speed, in miles per hour, of the Bell XP-59A Airacobra, using two of the I-A jet engines from GE, on its first flight in fall 1942

> 4,337 — Miles flown by the first helicopter to cross the Greenland ice cap; the 1963 trip started from what is now Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod and finished in Paris 10 days later


> 1,200 — Height in feet from which James Wallace Black flew in a tethered balloon above Boston Common to take the first aerial photograph in the United States on October 13, 1860

> 30 — Altitude in feet reached by the first powered flight in Massachusetts, in a Herring-Burgess Model A, on its maiden flight on February 28, 1910

> June 3, 1911 — Date of the first intercollegiate balloon race, sponsored by Williams College Aeronautical Society and beginning in North Adams


Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty): We regret any inconvenience the sudden cabin movement might have caused. . . . there’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your flight. . . . By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane? — Airplane! (1980)

Sources: Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; GE;; Smithsonian;

Mayeesha Galiba can be reached at
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