This Day In History : August 8

1929 Germany

The German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight

The German airship Graf Zeppelin began its round-the-world flight on August 8, 1929. The voyage began at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey and included stops in Friedrichshafen, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Lakehurst again. The flight demonstrated the potential for long-distance air travel and solidified the Graf Zeppelin's place in aviation history. The trip took 21 days, including stops, and showcased the capabilities and reliability of airships at the time.

Also on This Day in History August 8

Discover what happened on August 8 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, August 8
  • 1879 Bob Smith

    American physician and surgeon who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous

  • 1901 Ernest Lawrence

    American nuclear scientist and inventor (Cyclotron - Nobel 1939)

  • 1902 Paul Dirac

    English physicist who invented quantum mechanics and won the Nobel Prize in 1933

  • 1948 Svetlana Savitskaya

    Russian cosmonaut and aerospace engineer who was the first woman to walk in space (1984), and the first woman to make two trips into space

  • 1957 Nancy Glass

    American TV broadcaster and CEO (American Journal)

Deaths on This Day, August 8
  • 1950 Fergus McMaster

    Australian businessman and aviation pioneer (Qantas)

  • 1828 Nicolas Louis Robert

    French inventor of the continuous paper-making machine

  • 1969 Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer

    German human biologist and Nazi physician

  • 1985 Leo Weisgerber

    German linguist (organicist theory)

  • 1991 James Irwin

    American air force officer and NASA astronaut (Apollo 15, 8th person to walk on the moon)


Wilbur Wright makes his first public flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France

Wilbur Wright's first public flight at Le Mans, France, on August 8, 1908, was a landmark event in the history of aviation. This flight was crucial for demonstrating the practicality and superiority of the Wright brothers' flying machine to a skeptical European audience.

1st known ascent in hot-air balloon, Bartolomeu de Gusmao (indoors)

The first known ascent in a hot-air balloon occurred on August 8, 1709, when Bartolomeu de Gusmão, a Portuguese Jesuit priest and inventor, demonstrated his invention indoors. This event took place at the Casa da Índia in Lisbon, Portugal, in the presence of King John V and other members of the Portuguese court.

Beta Theta Pi is founded in Oxford, Ohio

Beta Theta Pi, one of the oldest college fraternities in North America, was founded on August 8, 1839, at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The fraternity was established by eight students with the aim of promoting intellectual and social growth among its members. 

The US Army installs the first tricycle landing gear on the Army's Wright Flyer

The US Army installed the first tricycle landing gear on the Army's Wright Flyer on August 8, 1910. This modification was made to improve the aircraft's stability during takeoff and landing, addressing the challenges posed by the original landing skids. The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were involved in the development and testing of this new landing gear system.
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