Flight in America
First Parachute Jump in America
On November 20, 1818, Louis Charles Guille at 500 feet altitude, cut his basket loose from a balloon in Jersey City and parachuted safely to earth. He is credited with the first parachute jump in the western world.
First Continental Air Mail Terminus
On December 16, 1924, James D. Hill took off from Hadley Field in Piscataway Township on the first flight of the Air Mail Service from its new eastern base at Hadley Field. The first night air mail flight was flown out of Hadley on July 1, 1925, with pilot Dean C. Smith at the controls of the DH-4. The Air Mail Service moved to Newark Airport in 1930.
First Hard Surface Runway
On August 28, 1928, a 1,600 foot packed cinder runway was opened at Newark Airport. A four place Ryan monoplane, similar to Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, landed at the airport before it was officially opened on October 1, 1928. The airport was also the first to have night lighting.
First Control Tower
In 1934, the Civil Works Administration completed work on the nation's first air terminal. Atop the administration building was the nation's first air traffic control tower, manned by William "Whitey" Conrad who had been hired in 1928 as the airport's first employee. Conrad designed many of the techniques used to control aircraft. He started, using flags and then invented the colored lights before radio controls were implemented.
First Blind Flight
On September 24, 1929, Lt. James Doolittle, accompanied by Lt. Benjamin Kelsey as his safety pilot flew 15 minutes "under the hood" over Mitchel Field, Long Island, using the homing radio developed by Aircraft Radio Corp. of Boonton Township.
First Air Mail Flight
On July 4, 1912, Oliver Simmons, piloting a pontoon-equipped Wright B Flyer, carried 18 pounds of mail and Mayor Ferd Garretson of Perth Amboy across Raritan Bay from South Amboy to Perth Amboy.