The Wright brothers’ plane first took off at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, but it wasn’t until 1927 that the first federal pilot licence was issued.
licence No. 1 went to William P. MacCracken, Jr., the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), MacCracken offered the honour to Orville Wright, who was no longer flying at the time, and declined.
MacCracken served as a pilot during World War I. He helped develop the Dept of Commerce’s aeronautics branch and create regulations for operating aeroplanes safely in the US. The FAA was formed in 1958, and is now responsible for licensing pilots.
Here’s what licence No. 1 looked like:
Here’s what a private pilot licence looks like today. It hasn’t changed too much:
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