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What was the first law passed by a government (e.g. not a private organization's policy) requiring some kind of licensing or certifications for civilian pilots?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about any particular country? $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Jul 30, 2023 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ @RTO no particular country $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jul 30, 2023 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ Related: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/99139/… $\endgroup$
    – WPNSGuy
    Jul 30, 2023 at 18:34

2 Answers 2

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What was the first law requiring licensing or certification for pilots?

Connecticut, a pioneer State for aviation, passed an act on June 8, 1911 to regulate aircraft registration, identification, and pilot licensing: "An Act concerning the Registration, Numbering, and Use of Air Ships, and the Licensing of Operators thereof."

According to connecticuthistory.org:

The Connecticut statute was the world’s first aviation law, and it quickly became the model for similar laws in other states. The law was enforced at first by the Secretary of State, and later by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, who for a while doubled as the state’s Commissioner of Aviation.

The full text is available at Connecticut State Library, page 1348 and following:

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Other States followed, e.g. in May 1913 the NY Times published this:

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This answers the OP though this is not an exam or a certificate. But such certificate were issued as early as 1909/10 by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. I don't know if they were required by law nor when. However they were required to participate to airshows and air races under the auspices of the FAI (airshows and races were common in Europe during this era).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! When was the Connecticut law passed? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Someone-OnStrike: I updated my answer, the first act was approved on June 8, 1911. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jul 31, 2023 at 19:40
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According to this FAA information: "On April 6, 1927, William P. MacCracken, Jr., Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics, received Pilot License No. 1, a private pilot license."

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This license was issued as a "...result of the Air Commerce Act of 1926."

Excerpt from the Air Commerce Act of 1926, pertaining to the issuance of Airmen Certificates:

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  • $\begingroup$ So it looks like the law was passed on May 20, 1926, and it stated that the requirement for licensure would not be enforced for 90 days (so not until August 18, 1926), and yet the first license was not actually granted until 8 months after that. I wonder if the Department of Commerce put something out saying, "Hey, we're still getting all our ducks in a row with respect to pilot's licenses, y'all can keep flying until we do." $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2023 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ According to this: "Feb. 28, 1918. Regulation of the airways begins with an order by President Woodrow Wilson requiring licenses for civilian pilots". I think licenses were required by 1911 in Europe to participate to airshows or air races. However this doesn't mean it was required by law. See also: Aviator Certificates issued by ACF. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jul 31, 2023 at 17:42

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