Skip to main content

The First Shot Fired from an Airplane


Lt. Jacob E. Fickel fired the first shot from an airplane on August 20, 1910, at Sheepshead Bay race track near New York City.

With Mr. Glenn Curtis piloting, Lt. Fickel used a Springfield Model 1903 .30-'06 and effectively fired twice at a 3x5-foot target from an altitude of 100 feet to demonstrate that an airplane would not break up in flight due to the gun's recoil. The next month, Lt. Fickel and Mr. Curtis repeated the experiment in Boston, Massachusetts, using a Colt Model 1911.

Lt. Fickel demonstrated his aerial gunnery skills at an air show in the summer of 1911 at Nassau Boulevard airfield on Long Island competing against a team of Britons, Thomas Sopwith and Malcolm Campbell.

Fickel handedly won the competition by placing six bullets through a dinner plate target while being flown in an aircraft 200 feet off the ground. These experiments led to the development of low-recoil machine guns, which were soon added to military airplanes.

Lt. Fickel would continue serving through World War I and World War II and become a Major General in the U.S. Air Force before passing away in 1956.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Jeremy Stafford traveled to Gunsite Academy to compare the speed of stock sights against express, three-dot, suppressor-height and red dot sights.

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket carry, as a method of concealed carry for a defensive firearm, can be a practical option when done right. This is especially true during the colder months when heavy outer garments can obstruct access to a traditional waistline holster. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts, joins G&A contributor Kimberly Heath-Chudwin to discuss guns, training and gear, including Blackhawk's TecGrip holster that can make pocket carry more successful.

Air Rifle and Pistol Reviews: Full-Auto Fun

Air Rifle and Pistol Reviews: Full-Auto Fun

Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range with both .177-caliber airguns to test their aim and demonstrate why the full-auto selector is often called the "giggle switch."

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now