1852:Henri Giffard flies a 3 horsepower (2 kW) steam-powered dirigible over Paris; it was the first powered aircraft.
1874:Félix du Temple flies a steam powered aluminium Monoplane off a downhill run. While it did not achieve level flight, it was the first manned heavier-than-air powered flight.
1890:Clément Ader built a steam-powered, bat-winged monoplane, named the Eole. Ader flew it on October 9, 1890 over a distance of 50 m (160 feet). The engine was inadequate for sustained and controlled flight. His flight did prove that a heavier-than-air flight was possible. Ader made at least three further attempts, the last on 12 and 14 October 1897 for the Ministry of War, which is surrounded by controversy as to whether or not he attained controlled flight. Ader did not obtain funding for his project and this points to its probable failure.
1894:Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim (inventor of the Maxim Gun) built and tested a large (3.5 tons, 110 ft wingspan) steam powered aircraft. The machine generated sufficient lift and thrust to break free of the test track and fly but was never operated as a piloted aircraft.
1899:Gustave Whitehead built and flew a steam powered airplane in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Stoker/passenger Louis Darvarich was injured when the plane crashed into an upper story of an apartment building. He later flew steam aircraft in Hartford, Connecticut, and was visited by one of the Wright brothers well before 1903. However, this flight has never been verified satisfactorily; there are no photographs, news stories, or other media from 1899 to confirm it. Likewise, the supposed visit of the Wright brothers to Whitehead is apocryphal; other than affidavits taken over thirty years after the fact, there is no evidence the visit ever happened. Mainstream aviation historians remain unconvinced of the Whitehead claims.
1934: Newspapers of the time reported a steam powered aircraft by a German engineer, a Mr Huettner of the Klingenberg Electric Works. The Berlin reporter of the Czechoslovak Prager Tagblatt who published the article was arrested and no more was heard of the project.
1944: A steam-powered version of the Messerschmitt Me 264A Amerika Bomber was hypothesized but never constructed. This was meant to be powered by a steam turbine developing over 6,000 horsepower (4,500 kW) while driving a 5.3 meter (17' 6") diameter propeller. The fuel would have been a mixture of powdered coal and petroleum. It seems that the steam turbines would have had an SFC of 190 gr/hp/hr. The main considered advantages to this powerplant were consistent power at all altitudes and low maintenance.
1960s: Conceptual drawings were made for Don Johnson of Thermodynamic Systems Inc. Newport Beach, CA of an engine. It was to be in installed in a Hughes 300 helicopter. The steam engine was a compact cylindrical double-acting uniflow [similar in layout to the Dyna-Cam Aero engine], but never prototyped by Controlled Steam Dynamics, Inc.