National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Aeronautics and Astronautics Chronology, 1930-34

SOURCE: Eugene M. Emme, comp., Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space, 1915-1960 (Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1961), pp. 26-32.


January 3: President Hoover made the presentation of the Collier Trophy for 1929 to Dr. Joseph S. Ames, Chairman of the NACA.

January 6: Guggenheim Safe Aircraft Competition prize was awarded to Curtiss Tanager, which featured practical wing flaps and leading-edge Handley-Page slots.

During January: The world's first full-scale wind tunnel under construction at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory (30 feet high, 60 feet wide).

February 15: Naval Aircraft Factory authorized to begin construction of working models of retractable landing gears because of design progress.

February 17-19: First National Conference on Aeronautical Education held at St. Louis, Mo.

March 21: First Navy dive bomber designed to deliver 1,000-pound bomb, the Martin XT5M-1, met strength and performance requirements in diving tests.

April 4: The American Interplanetary Society, later the American Rocket Society (ARS), founded in New York City by David Lasser, G. Edward Pendray, Fletcher Pratt, and nine others, for the "promotion of interst in and experimentation toward interplanetary expeditions and travel."

April 8: Orville Wright received first Daniel Guggenheim Medal.

April 12: Air Corps set world record for altitude formation flying when 19 planes reached a height of 30,000 feet (old record 17,000 feet).

May 9: Dr. Ludwig Prandtl of Germany received second Daniel Guggenheim Medal.

May 13: Fifth Annual Aircraft Engineering Research Conference held at Langley Laboratory.

June 4: Lt. Apollo Soucek flew Navy Wright Apache landplane equipped with P&W 450-hp engine to height of 43,166 feet over NAS Anacostia, regaining world record he held briefly in 1929.

July 21: Capt. A. H. Page (USMC) piloted an O2U from a sealed hooded cockpit on an instrument flight of near 1,000 miles from Omaha, Nebr., to Anacostia, via Chicago and Cleveland, with safety pilot Lt. V. M. Guymon landing the airplane.

July 23: Hermann Oberth and VfR successfully tested liquid oxygen and gasoline-fueled rocket motor for 90 seconds in Germany, a demonstration made before the Director of the Chemisch-Technische Reichsanstalt to secure financial support.

September 1-2: Costas al Bellante transatlantic flight Paris to ?

September 8: German sounding balloon released near Hamburg attained an altitude of 117,750 feet (22.4 miles).

During September: Raketenflugplatze Berlin established by VfR in Germany.

December 17: German Army Ordnance Office, after reviewing work of Goddard and others, decided to establish rocket program and to equip artillery proving ground at Kummersdorff to develop military missiles.

December 30: Robert H. Goddard fired 11-foot liquid fuel rocket to a height of 2,000 feet and a speed near 500 mph near Roswell, N. Mex.

December 31: "Airworthiness Requirements for Aircraft Components and Accessories" of the Department of Commerce became effective.

During December: John J. Ide, NACA technical assistant in Europe, served as U.S. delegate to the First International Congress on Aerial Safety in Paris.

During 1930: NACA made confidential recommendations to industry and military services for best location of engine nacelles, with engines faired into leading edges of the wing, a report based on 1928 research of Donald H. Wood and others which influenced design of all multiengine aircraft thereafter.

---: Sound-locator acoustic system for detection of aircraft in flight was developed.

---: Sperry Gyroscope developed the "Gyro Horizon."

---: An increase of 300 percent in paid passengers on commerical airlines was recorded this year.

---: Frank Whittle, RAF officer and engineer, obtained British patents for turbojet engine.

---: Allison Division of General Motors began development of V-1710 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine, the only liquid-cooled engine of U.S. design to be produced throughout World War II, which was increased in 17 years from 750 hp to 2,000 hp.

---: First vertical wind tunnel for study of airplane spinning was placed in operation at NACA's Langley Laboratory.

---: Robert Esnault-Pelterie of France published his classic work on L-Astronautique; he had begun his mathematical work on astronautics in 1907.


January 4: William G. Swan stayed aloft for 30 minutes over Atlantic City, N.J., in a glider powered with 10 small rockets.

January 22: Navy ordered its first rotary-wing aircraft, the XOP-1, from Pitcairn Aircraft.

March 4: More than $100 million was appropriated by Congress for military, naval, and commerical aviation for the coming year.

March 14: First liquid-fuel rocket successfully fired in Europe, a methane-liquid oxygen rocket constructed by Johannes Winkler and flown from Dessau, Germany.

April 2: First Navy aircraft with retractable landing gear, the XFF-1 two-seat fighter, ordered from Grumman Aircraft.

April 8: Amelia Earhart established a woman's autogiro altitude record of 18,415 feet in a Whirlwind-powered Pitcairn at Willow Grove, Pa.

April 10: Airship subcloud observation car demonstrated by Lt. Wilfred J. Paul at Langley Field, Va.

During April: Raktenflugplatz in Germany was visited by Mr. and Mrs. G. Edward Pendray as official representatives of the American Interplanetary Society, who upon their return organized the experimental program of the society.

May 27: First full-scale wind tunnel for testing airplanes was dedicated at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory of the NACA, engineer-in-charge of construction and operation, Smith J. De France, explained details to the annual Aircraft Engineering Research Conference.

---: The NACA tank to provide data on water performance of seaplanes was demonstrated by Starr Truscott. Its channel length was enlarged from 2,020 feet to 2,900 feet in October 1937.

---: Auguste Piccard, Swiss physicist, and Charles Knipfer made first balloon flight into stratosphere, reaching a height of 51,777 feet in a 17-hour flight from Augsburg, Germany, to a glacier near Innsbruck, Austria.

May 28: Lt. W. Lees and Ens. F. A. Brossy established world's endurance flight record without refueling of 84 hours 33 minutes, in diesel-powered Bellanca at Jacksonville, Fla.

May 31: A pilotless airplane was successfully flown by radio control from another plane at Houston, Tex.

June 4: Dornier DO-X, 12-engined German flying boat (which carried 169 passengers on its trial flight), arrived in New York after flying the south Atlantic.

June 23-July 1: Wiley Post and Harold Gatty lowered world circling record to 8 days 15 hours 51 minutes in the Lockheed Winnie Mae.

July 24-31: Graf Zeppelin carried 12 scientists on Arctic flight.

July 28: First nonstop flight across the Pacific, begun by Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon in a single-engined Bellanca, who completed flight around the world in October.

July 29-August 26: Colonel and Mrs. Lindbergh made survey flight to Japan in Sirius seaplane, via Alaska and Siberia.

September 4: Maj. James H. Doolittle established a new transcontinental record from Burbank to Newark of 11 hours and 16 minutes elapsed time including three stops, flying Laird Super-Solution.

September 9: Start of official rocket-mail service between two Austrian towns by Friedrich Schmiedl; test flights began in February 1931, while rocket-mail service continued until March 16, 1933.

October 30: School of Aviation Medicine moved from Brooks Field to Randolph Field, Tex.

During 1931: NACA Report 385 presented results showing that maximum lift coefficient of a wing could be increased as much as 96 percent by use of boundary-layer control.

---: Robert Esnault-Pelterie of France demonstrated liquid-fuel rocket propulsion with a rocket motor operated on gasoline and liquid oxygen.

---: Bureau of Standards made a number of experiments to deterine whether thrust reaction of a jet could be increased, and tested combinations of jets.

---: Alexander Lippisch of Germany first produced and demonstrated a practical delta-wing aircraft.

During 1931-32: Taylor Cub Model A, a two-seat, high-wing light airplane, first produced, and helped popularize sports flying in the United States.


March 26: Navy Consolidated P2Y seaplane made first test flight.

April 19: First flight of Goddard rocket with gyroscopically controlled vanes for automatically stabilized flight, near Roswell, N. Mex.

May 4: Daniel Guggenheim Gold Medal for 1932 awarded to Juan de la Cierva for development of the autogiro.

May 9: First blind solo flight (without a check pilot aboard) solely on instruments was made by Capt. A. F. Hegenberger (AAC) at Dayton, Ohio.

June 30: Los Angeles (ZR-3) decommissioned by the Navy for economy reasons after 8 years of service and over 5,000 hours in the air.

July 28: Navy BuAer initiated research program on physiological effects of high acceleration and deceleration encountered in dive-bombing and other violent maneuvers in allocation to Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Pioneer research pointing to need for anti-g or anti-blackout equipment was subsequently performed at Harvard University School of Public Health under the direction of Dr. C. K. Drinker by Lt. Comdr. John R. Poppen (MC USN).

During July-August: VfR successfully fired Mirak II rocket to height of 200 feet, after which German Army Ordnance Office formalized rocket develoment program by placing Captain-Doctor Walter Dornberger in charge of Research Station West at Kummersdorf.

August 18: Auguste Piccard and Max Cosyns attained an altitude of 53,152 feet on second stratosphere balloon flight, landing on a glacier in the Alps.

August 31: Capt. A. W. Stevens and Lt. C. D. McAllister (AAC) flew 5 miles above earth's surface at Fryeburg, Maine, to photograph eclipse of the sun.

During August: Experimental transmission of weather maps by teletype initiated by Weather Bureau on a special circuit between Cleveland and Washington.

September 3: Maj. James H. Doolittle set a new world speed record for landplanes by averaging 294 mph over 3-km course at Cleveland, Ohio, in Granville Brothers Gee Bee monophane with P&W Wasp engine.

September 16: Altitude record of 43,976 feet for landplanes established by Cyril F. Unwins in Vickers Vespa at Bristol, England.

September 21: Dr. Robert A. Millikan of California Institute of Technology completed series of tests on the intensity of cosmic rays at various altitudes with cooperation of 11th Bombardment Squadron, in a Condor Bomber from March Field, Calif.

October 1: Wernher von Braun joined the German Army Ordnance Office rocket program at Kummersdorf.

October 15: Institute of Aeronautical Sciences was incorporated in New York.

November 12: American Interplanetary Society performed static tests of rocket based on VfR design at Stockton, N.J.

December 1: Teletypewriter Weather Map Service was inaugurated by Aeronautics Branch, Department of Commerce.

During 1932: German engineer, Paul Schmidt, working from design of Lorin tube, developed and patented a ramjet engine later modified and used in the V-1 Flying Bomb.

During 1932: Robert H. Goddard developed component of modern ramjet engine with construction of a rocket fuel pump at Clark University.

---: Capt. John R. Poppen (MC USN) began experimentation with animals on physiological effects of high acceleration, proposing as a result of his studies that an inflatable abdominal corset be developed for use by fighter pilots.

---: Junkers Ju-52, Geman trimotor transport of great success, first produced.

---: Control mechanism for variable-pitch propellers developed under the direction of Frank Caldwell.

---: NACA published derivation and characteristics of the first systematic family of NACA airfoils.

---: JATO-type rockets first used in the Soviet Union, according to Moscow historians.


January 21: Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (IAS) held its Founders Meeting at Columbia University under Jerome C. Hunsaker, president, and Lester D. Gardner.

February 25: Aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ranger (CV-4) launched at Newport News.

During February: Boeing 247, first "modern-type" airliner, first flew.

March 11: Macon dirigible christened at Akron, Ohio, and made first flight on April 21 with 105 persons aboard.

March 28: Aircraft engine manufacturers granted permission by the Aeronautics Branch, Department of Commerce, to conduct endurance tests on their own equipment.

April 4: Rear Adm. W. A. Moffett, Chief of Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, killed along with 72 others in crash of the dirigible Akron at sea off the coast of New Jersey. He was replaced by Rear Adm. E. J. King (USN).

May 14: American Interplanetary Society Rocket No. 2 successfully fired, attaining 250-foot altitude in 2 seconds, at Marine Park, Staten Island, N.Y.

July 1-August 12: Gen. Italo Balbo of Italian Air Force led flight of 25 Savoia-Marchetti S-55X seaplanes in mass flight from Rome to Chicago and return.

July 9-December 19: Col. and Mrs. Charles A. Lindbergh made 29,000-mile survey flight in their Cyclone-powered Sirius seaplane from New York to Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Europe, Russia, the Azores, Africa, Brazil, and return.

July 15-22: Lockheed Vega, Winnie Mae, piloted in first round-the-world solo flight by Wiley Post, 15,596 miles in 7 days 18 hours 491/2 minutes. Airplane contained new type of radiocompass developed by Wright Field engineers.

During July: Douglas DC-1 first flew, forerunner of the famed DC-3.

August 17: First Soviet liquid-propellant rocket successfully fired.

September 30: Russian stratosphere flight in Army balloon USSR attained a reported altitude of 60,695 feet, G. Prokofiev, K. Godunov, and E. Birnbaum as balloonists.

November 20-21: Lt. Comdr. T. G. W. Settle (USN) and Maj Chester L. Fordney (USMC) set official world balloon altitude record of 61,237 feet over Akron, Ohio.

During 1933: Collier Trophy for 1933 awarded to Hamilton Standard Propeller Co., with particular credit to Frank W. Caldwell, chief engineer, for development of a controllable-pitch propeller now in general use.

---: NACA assisted Army, Navy, and industry in the development of reliable retractable landing gears, controllable pitch propellers, more efficient wing sections, and wing flaps.

---: Harry W. Bull of Syracuse, N.Y., developed small liquid-propellant rocket engine.

---: Fred E. Weick and his associates at NACA's Langley Laboratory designed and constructed the Weick W-1 airplane which incorporated such novel features as tricycle landing gear, pusher propeller, and interconnected ailerons and rudder for simpler and safer flying.

---: Eugen Sänger of Germany published his classic Rakatenflugtechnic, which dealt with rocket motor design and high-speed flight in the atmosphere.

---: British Interplanetary Society organized.


January 10-11: Six Navy Consolidated P2Y-1's flew nonstop from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 2,399 miles, in 24 hours 56 minutes.

January 30: Russian balloon reached 73,000 feet, but aeronauts Felosienko, Wasienko, and Vsyskin perished in free fall of gondola.

February 19: Under Presidential order the Army Air Corps started flying domestic airmail.

During February: Lockheed Electra first flew, featuring introduction of twin fins and rudders.

April 6: American Interplanetary Society renamed the American Rocket Society (ARS).

April 11: Comdr. Renato Donati established altitude record of 47,352 feet in Caproni aircraft, at Rome, Italy.

April 18: Baker Board, appointed by the Secretary of War to investigate the Army Air Corps, held its first meeting.

May 1: Lt. Frank Akers (USN) made hooded blind landing in an OJ-2 at College Park, Md., in demonstration of system intended for aircraft carrier use. In subsequent flights, he made takeoffs and landings between Anacostia and College Park under a hood without assistance.

June 12: Air Mail Act of 1934 signed by the President.

During June: Baker Board recommended purchase of War Department aircraft from private manufacturers, instead of building them in Government factories, by means of negotiated contract, by competitive bids, or by purchase after design competition.

July 1: Name of the Aeronautics Branch changed to the Bureau of Air Commerce in the Department of Commerce.

July 24: Air Corps began aerial photographic survey of Alaska under Lt. Col. H. H. Arnold.

July 28: A 60,613-foot altitude was reached in Air Corps-National Geographic Society balloon, Explorer I, by Maj. W. E. Kepner and Capts. A. W. Stevens and Orvil A. Anderson.

August 18: Jeanette and Jean Piccard flew Century of Progress balloon from Dearborn, Mich., to an altitude of 57,579 feet.

During August: Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory expanded with completion of engine research laboratory, a vertical tunnel for testing spinning characteristics, and a 24-inch high-speed tunnel (700 mph).

September 9: ARS Rocket No. 4 launched to 400 feet altitude, at Marine Island, Staten Island, N.Y.

September 15: Aeromedical Laboratory founded at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio.

November 18: Navy issued contract to Northrop for the XBT-1, a two-seat scout and 1,000-pound bomb dive bomber, initial prototype of sequence that led to the SBD Dauntless series of dive bombers introduced to the fleet in 1938 and used throughout World War II.

December 23: Endowment given IAS by Sylvanus Albert Reed for annual award to be given "for notable contribution to the aeronautical sciences resulting from experimental or theoretical investigations, the beneficial influence of which on the developmenet of practical aeronautics is apparent."

During December: Geman Ordance group launch two A-2 rockets successfully to a height of 1.4 miles, on the Island of Borkum in the North Sea, before the C-in-C of the Army.

---: British War Office considered development of high-velocity rockets, and the Research Department at Woolwich Arsenal was requested to submit a program in April 1935. This led to antiaircraft rocket development, and some 2,500 test firings were made in Jamaica, 1938-39.

During 1934: Douglas began development of the twin-engined commercial transport, the famed DC-3.

---: H. G. Armstrong began studies on decompression sickness and showed that gas bubbles may form in the body from a drop of pressure below one atmosphere at Aero Medical Laboratory.

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Last Updated: January 27, 2005