Milestones in Idaho flight history

  • August 29, 1892: Professor Thomas Godfrey flies the first recorded hot air balloon over Boise
  • October 13, 1910: Pilot J.J. Ward makes the first powered flight over Idaho at Lewiston in a Curtiss Pusher
  • 1916: Coeur d’Alene purchases land for an airport, Idaho’s first municipal airport
  • 1920: Volara Romanza Nelson of Rupert is listed as the first female pilot licensed by the Aero Club of America
  • April 15, 1920: Mail is flown briefly between Pocatello and Idaho Falls
  • May 15, 1920: First extensive flying begins over Idaho’s mountains by U.S. Army pilots “… for the protection of the forest areas of the United States against destruction by fire.”
  • April 1925: The Independence Placer Mining Company contracts to supply its remote Clearwater claims by air
  • October 27, 1925: Walter T. Varney is awarded Contract Air Mail 5 (C.A.M. 5)
  • April 6, 1926:

    – Leon Cuddeback flies the first scheduled air mail flight in Idaho for Varney Airlines (Boise) under C.A.M. 5
    –The official beginning of commercial flight in the United States
    – Founding of Varney Airlines (later United Airlines)

  • 1929: The Idaho Air Commerce Act establishes an Aeronautics Division within the Department of Public Works. Arthur C. Blomgren, “Airway Engineer,” serves as first director
  • July 8-10, 1929: Western States Air Commerce and Airways Conference is held in Boise, “… for the establishing of state airways, intermediate landing
  • December 24, 1929: Payette is the first city approved by the new Aeronautics Division to build an airport
  • May 1931: State Board of Examiners approves purchase of first state airplane
  • June 1931: A Travelaire is ordered for $4,385
  • Winter 1931-32: Regarded by many as the “real” beginning of backcountry flying in Idaho
  • July 12, 1940: Rufus Robinson and Earl Cooley become the first smoke jumpers in Idaho when they parachuted to a small fire on Martin Creek in the Nez Perce National Forest
  • January 21, 1941: Construction begins on Boise’s Army Airfield, later known as Gowen Field
  • March 19, 1941: First contingent of B-17s arrives at Gowen field
  • April 27, 1942: Pocatello is approved for a training base similar to Gowen Field
  • November 13, 1942: Site studies begin for new base at Mountain Home
  • May 9, 1943: First contingent of WACs arrives at Gowen Field
  • September 14, 1944: Idaho Aviation Association is formed
  • 1946: Chet Moulton becomes Aeronautics Director and establishes:

    – Airport-in-a-Day program
    – First state-operated and financed search and rescue unit in the nation
    – Safe Pilot safety program
    – Air breakfasts
    – Rudder Flutter, statewide aviation newsletter
    – Air Education program
    – System of “state airways” and emergency airfields
    – Efforts increasing number of state airports from 80 to 196
    – Increased funding for state’s airports, nearly $800,000 on 107 airports

  • October 13, 1946: Idaho Air National Guard is established
  • November 30, 1948: Idaho Aviation Association is disbanded
  • October 15, 1954: Idaho Chapter of the International Ninety-Nines is formed
  • 1961: Gene Nora Jesson (Boise), one of only 13 women to successfully pass the physical exam in a female astronaut program, comprised of rigorous series of tests designed for men
  • 1965: Boise Interagency Fire Center (later National Interagency Fire Center) is founded
  • May 18, 1989: Idaho Aviation Association is incorporated
  • 1991: Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame is established
  • 2007: Idaho Airstrip Network is established
  • August 8-21, 2007: Barbara Morgan (McCall), Idaho’s Teacher n Space, serves as educator, loadmaster, shuttle and station robotic arm operator, and flight deck crewmember for entry and landing aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor on mission STS-118
  • February 28, 2010: Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signs official proclamation designating October as “Idaho Centennial of Flight Month”
  • August 25, 2010: Dan Wilson performs first flight of NX909JJ, the replica of the original 1909 Herring-Curtiss Pusher flown over Idaho in 1910, built by Dean Wilson and Jim Otey

Published 10-22-2010