On this date in 1939 Igor Sikorsky piloted the first successful helicopter which he also designed. While he was a pioneer in vertical flight he was not the inventor of the helicopter. However, his improvements of a single lift rotor and a tail rotor made the craft controllable. This prototype led to the first production helicopter.
Although this test occurred in Connecticut, it influenced flight around the world.
See more at http://inventors.about.com/od/hstartinventions/a/helicopter.htm
National Aviation Day, August 19, celebrates the development of aviation.
“The holiday was established in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who issued a presidential proclamation which designated the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday to be National Aviation Day (Mr. Wright, born in 1871, was still alive when the proclamation was first issued, and would live another nine years). The proclamation was codified (USC 36:I:A:1:118), and it allows the sitting US President to proclaim August 19 as National Aviation Day each year, if desired. Their proclamation may direct all federal buildings and installations to fly the US flag on that day, and may encourage citizens to observe the day with activities that promote interest in aviation.”
Excerpt from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Aviation_Day .
Image retouched from August 1939 Popular Science magazine article on a Los Angeles model airport: https://books.google.com/books?id=yCwDAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA112&hl=ru&pg=PA112#v=onepage&q&f=false .
1939 activities honoring Wilbur and Orville Wright can be seen here: http://www.centennialofflight.net/chrono/1939.htm . None were in southern California, though.
Image: 1939 postcard.
Learn more about the Burbank airport in the Thirties at http://wesclark.com/burbank/batchelor.html . See a color Trans World Airways 1939 map and company information at https://mappingmovement.newberry.org/selection/twa-airway-map-1939 .
Image: advertisement from unidentified 1939 issue of National Geographic magazine.
“A beautiful 1939-40 photo of a 1931 Waco F-2 biplane (possibly being flown by Donald Rolf) overflying the row of hangars Monrovia Airport (courtesy of Scott Rolf).
“According to Scott Rolf, ‘The plane was owned by the airport at the time, probably under Al Blackburn.’”
Excerpt and image from http://www.airfields-freeman.com/CA/Airfields_CA_LA_E.htm .
Learn more about the aircraft manufacturers before and after Vultee on what was formerly a ranch in Downey: http://downeydepot.wixsite.com/strip-header-layout/time-traveler-gallery .
Image: ad in March, 1939 Popular Aviation