Aviation has come a long way since the first time an airplane was successfully flown by the Wright Brothers in 1903. Pilots in the beginning years of aviation were risk-takers and adventure seekers. The first airplane landing in Arizona was spectated by thousands, and was a rare and truly amazing sight.

The first ever airplane to land in Arizona was on October 25,1911, in the small, yet historical, city of Yuma. The flight was taken by Robert G Fowler, a fiery and passionate pilot, who became a legend in aviation.

On October 25, 1911, over two thousand spectators gathered around the Yuma Ballpark as they watched an object in the sky approaching closer. The locals watched in amazement as the first airplane landed in Arizona right there on that very Yuma Ballpark field. Robert G. Fowler flew in on a Wright Model B biplane, known as the “Cole Flyer”.

The Wright Model B Biplane was one of the most successful aircrafts build by the Wright brothers. At the time of Fowler’s landing in Arizona, the Wright brothers were manufacturing about four Model B airplanes a month. It was the most popular and successful aircraft of its time. The Wright Model B was the first aircraft of many successful flights, and was the first aircraft used in military operations by the US army.

Unlike today’s passenger airplanes that weigh anywhere from 75 – 450 tons and travel at speeds up to 540 mph, the “Cole Flyer” only weighed 800 pounds and could fly up to a speed of 45 miles per hour.

Robert’s flight started in Santa Monica, California, just over 280 miles away from Yuma. He was headed towards the east coast, in a race to complete a transcontinental flight. Four days after his arrival in Yuma, Robert asked for help from locals to push the Model B plane up a hill so he could get a downhill start to take off. His final destination would take him to Miami, Florida, forty-nine days later.

A monument of Robert Fowler stands tall near the sight of the first airplane landing in his memory.

Yuma went on to become a city of firsts in aviation. The Fly Field in Yuma was one of the first working airports in Arizona and hosted a cross-country air race with 25 planes in 1928.

After Robert Fowler become the first person to travel from the west coast to the east coast of the united states, he went on to become the first flyer to make a nonstop international trip to Isthmus of Panama, making aviation history once again.


  1. (n.d.). The Wright Story/An Unusual Childhood/A Life on Hold. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.wright-brothers.org/Information_Desk/Just_the_Facts/Airplanes/Wright_Airplanes.htm

Our History. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://yumalanding.com/history.htm

Robert G. Fowler. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_G._Fowler

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