100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

First Machine Gun Fired From An Airplane

Charles de Forest Chandler joined the Army in June 1898. He was a Captain in the Signal Corps in August 1907 when Brigadier General James Allen established an Aeronautical Bureau and put Chandler in charge of it. In August 1909 the United States Army Signal Corps selected a field in College Park, Maryland to serve as a training location for Wilbur Wright to instruct two military officers to fly in the government’s first airplane. The airplane, a Wright Type A biplane, was uncrated and assembled on October 7. In 1911, the nation’s first military aviation school was opened at College Park, with Chandler as Commanding Officer and newly trained pilots Lt Henry H Arnold and Lt Thomas DeWitt Milling as Wright pilot instructors and Capt Paul W Beck as the Curtiss instructor.

In August 1910 pioneer aviator Glenn Curtiss flew an airplane at a racetrack at Sheepshead Bay, New York where his passenger US Army marksman 2nd Lt. Jacob E Fickel held on to a wing strut with one arm and fired a .30 caliber Springfield infantry rifle with his other arm at a target 100 feet on the ground. This is the first time a gun was fired from an airplane.

During the Italian-Turkish War in Northern Africa in Fall 1911, many firsts in Air Warfare took place.

1st use of aircraft during wartime.


1st airplane hit by gunfire.


On June 7, 1912 the first airplane armed with a machine gun was flown by Lt. Thomas de Witte Milling at College Park, Maryland. The gunner, who was armed with a Lewis gun, was Capt. Charles de Forest Chandler of the US Army Signal Corps.

Capt Charles de Forest Chandler holding a Lewis machine gun in a Wright flyer piloted by Lt. Thomas de Witte Milling
June 7, 1912


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