The first practical attempts at air transportation began with the invention of the hot-air balloon in 1783. However, transportation by air didn't become a reality until the beginning of the 20th cent. with the invention of the rigid airship (or Zeppelin) in 1900 and the first heavier-than-air flight by the Wright brothers in 1903. Although passenger flights were inaugurated after World War I, air transportation did not blossom until after World War II. The modern jet airplane now makes possible comfortable travel to virtually any point on the globe in just one day.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.