1903 Wright Flyer – National Air and Space Museum

The Wright Flyer (often retrospectively referred to as Flyer I or 1903 Flyer) is the first successful powered aircraft, designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903, near Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S. Today, the airplane is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as “…the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.” The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale described the 1903 flight during the 100th anniversary in 2003 as “the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.”

SR – 71 Blackbird – Udvar-Hazy Center

The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division. Renowned American aerospace engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was responsible for many of the design’s innovative concepts. During aerial reconnaissance missions, the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outfly the missile. The SR-71 was designed to have basic stealth characteristics and served as a precursor to future stealth aircraft.

Space Shuttle Discovery – Udvar-Hazy Center

Discovery became the third operational orbiter to enter service, preceded by Columbia and Challenger. It embarked on its last mission, STS-133, on February 24, 2011 and touched down for the final time at Kennedy Space Center on March 9, having spent a cumulative total of almost a full year in space. Discovery performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions. It also carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired, followed by Endeavour and then Atlantis.