New Jersey

First Balloon Flight in America

On January 9, 1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard flew a hot air balloon from Philadelphia, PA, 15 miles across the Delaware River to Deptford Township.

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.

Continental Air Mail Terminus
First continental air mail terminus at Hadley Field in New Jersey.

Control Tower at Newark Airport
First control tower in the U.S. at Newark Airport in New Jersey.


Aviation Firsts Logo

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.