01 Feb 2021

Anniversaries of aviation and space achievements to celebrate in 2021

In 2021, FAI will put the spotlight on the most remarkable records ratified by the Federation, and on the striking feats that have marked the history of aviation and space exploration.

By celebrating the anniversaries of these achievements, FAI also wants to commemorate the women and men who pushed the limits of technology and human potential to conquer the sky and explore space.

Sixty years ago, in April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth and established three records after submitting a detailed file to FAI for ratification. He was followed less than a month later by Alan Shepard, the first American to travel into space, who broke two records in the process. Ten years later in 1971, the Soviet Union placed the world's first space station in earth orbit, Salyut 1.

Air sports will also have their fair share of firsts and records to remember, starting as far back as 1871, when brilliant engineer Alphonse Pénaud created the “Planophore”, a model aircraft powered by a twisted rubber band which marked a significant milestone in the flight research. Fast-forwarding through more than 140 years of technology development to 2016, Walter Extra broke records in his electric-powered plane and Bertrand Piccard flew from New York to Seville aboard an aircraft solely using the energy of the sun.

During the 20th century, societal progress opened the doors of aviation to women. In 1911, Harriet Quimby became the first woman in the US to earn an aeroplane pilot licence. In 1951, FAI approved its first parachuting records, which were set by Frenchwoman Monique Laroche. Passionate athletes of both genders helped this sport evolve throughout the years, which now includes new disciplines such as speed skydiving, in which Henrik Raimer reached 601,26 km/h in 2016.

In ballooning, FAI will celebrate an array of spectacular records anniversaries, from Auguste Piccard’s ascension into the stratosphere in 1931 to Fedor Konyukhov’s shortest flight around the world in 2016.

Exceptional achievements could not happen without strong friendship and efficient teamwork, as demonstrated by Rafael Monteiro Saladini, Rafael de Moraes Barros and Marcelo Prieto who flew together to break simultaneous paragliding records in 2019.

Date

Name

Country

Category

Description

World record(s)

12 April 1961

GAGARIN Yuri

URS

Space

1st man to travel to space

3 records, incl. 9327 - current

19 April 1971

 

URS

Space

The Soviet Union placed the world's first space station in earth orbit, Salyut 1

-

4 May 1961

ROSS Malcolm D.

USA

Ballooning

Absolute altitude (34668m)

2 records, incl. 2325 - current

5 May 1961

SHEPARD Alan

USA

Space

1st American to travel to space

2 records, incl. 9519 - current

25 May 2011

EIMERS Whilhelm  

GER

Ballooning

Duration record - 23h 18m 30s

16259 - current

27 May 1931

PICCARD Auguste

SUI

Ballooning

1st balloon flight into the stratosphere

Altitude record (15781m)

10634

23 June 2016

PICCARD Bertrand

SUI

Experimental / New Technologies

Non-stop flight from New York to Sevilla aboard Solar Impulse (5851,3km)

4 records, incl. 17868 - current

15 July 1921 COLEMAN Bessie USA Powered airplanes 1st African American woman to receive an FAI pilot licence -

23 July 2016

KONYUKHOV Fedor

RUS

Ballooning

Absolute record, Shortest time around the world (268h 20m)

4 records, incl. 17899 - current

2 August 1911

QUIMBY Harriet

USA

Powered airplanes

1st American woman to earn an airplane pilot license

-

18 August 1871

PÉNAUD Alphonse

FRA

Aeromodelling

1st public flight of his Planophore

-

13 September 2016

RAIMER Henrik

SWE

Parachuting

Speed skydiving (601,26km/h)

17941

6 October 1951

LAROCHE Monique

FRA

Parachuting

1st parachuting records

2 records

10 October 2019

MONTEIRO SALADINI Rafael / DE MORAES BARROS Rafael / PRIETO Marcelo

BRA

Paragliding

Straight distance record (582km)

2 records, Saladini / Barros / Prieto - current

12 November 1981

ABRUZZO Ben

USA

Ballooning

1st crossing of the Pacific Ocean in a balloon

Absolute distance record
(8382,54km)

3 records, incl. 2326

19 November 1991

DABADIE Guy

FRA

Rotorcraft

Absolute Speed over a course of 3km (372km/h)

3 records, incl. 11658 - current

25 November 2016

EXTRA Walter

GER

Powered Aircraft

Time to climb to a height of 3000m record in an electric-powered aircraft (4m 22s)

18085 - current

Top picture: Yuri Gagarin; credit: FAI archives