The first Wright airplane arriving at Ft. Myer, VA, 1 September 1908
The Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps
(1907–1914) was the first heavier-than-air military aviation organization in history and the progenitor
of the United States Air Force
. A component of the U.S. Army Signal Corps
, the Aeronautical Division procured the first powered military aircraft in 1909, created schools to train its aviators, and initiated a rating system for pilot qualifications. It organized and deployed the first permanent American aviation unit, the 1st Aero Squadron
, in 1913. The Aeronautical Division trained 51 officers and 2 enlisted men as pilots, and incurred 13 fatalities in air crashes. During this period, the Aeronautical Division had 29 factory-built aircraft in its inventory, built a 30th from spare parts, and leased a civilian airplane for a short period in 1911.
Following statutory authorization of an Aviation Section
in the Signal Corps by the United States Congress
in 1914, the Aeronautical Division continued as the primary organizational component of the section until April 1918, when its inefficiency in mobilizing for World War I
caused the War Department
to replace it with an organization independent of the Signal Corps that eventually became the foundation of the Army's Air Service
. Read more...