• Automobiles and Airplanes

    Before the Industrial Revolution, most people were born, lived, and died within a fairly small geographical area (with the exception of pioneers and homesteaders). The Industrial Revolution drew people away from rural communities to work in cities.

    Then, two major inventions made it even easier for people to travel: airplanes and automobiles. These fast, shiny machines forever changed the way people live and work.

    Automobiles and Airplanes

    Fun Facts

    • People first began building steam cars in the 1770s, but these cars didn’t run very well and were expensive to build. In the late 1800s, cars that ran on gasoline became available. At first, only the wealthy owned cars. But by 1915, cars became more affordable.
    • Henry Ford developed the Model T, a practical, sturdy, affordable car that became very popular. Ford used specialized equipment and an assembly line to produce more cars quickly and cheaply. This system is still used today.
    • Model Ts only came in black because black paint dried faster than other paint colors. The car cost $800 when it was first introduced. As Ford streamlined the manufacturing process and cut costs, he passed those savings to buyers and lowered the price of the Model T to about $260. More than 15 million Model T cars were built. The cars had a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour.
    • The history of air flight goes back to 400 B.C. when people in China developed kites. Leonardo da Vinci studied flight extensively and drew more than 100 illustrations of potential flight machines. Gliders, hot air balloons, and aerodromes came next.
    • Wilbur and Orville Wright were serious about designing an airplane that could actually fly. They spent more than five years studying gliders and testing wing designs in a wind tunnel they’d built. Finally, on December 17, 1903, their airplane flew for 59 seconds, covering 850 feet. The brothers had achieved the first motor-propelled airplane flight. Two years later, their plane flew 24 miles until it ran out of gas.
    • At first, people were skeptical that airplanes would ever be practical, but the U.S. government realized that airplanes could be useful in warfare. In 1908, the U.S. military gave the Wright brothers a contract to develop planes.


    1. Affordable: inexpensive
    2. Popular: well-liked
    3. Skeptical: doubtful
    4. Warfare: war

    Questions and Answers

    Question: How did people use cars?

    Answer: Doctors were among the first to buy cars because cars transported them to patients more reliable and more quickly than horses. In rural areas, people used cars to visit friends, take their produce to market, and even plow fields. In cities, people used cars to go to work, go shopping, visit friends, and run errands. They could now go out just for fun – to movies or shows.

    Learn More

    Visit Explain That Stuff to learn more about the history of cars.


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Declan, Tobin. " Fun Facts about Automobiles and Airplanes for Kids ." American History for Kids, Apr 2022. Web. 26 Apr 2022. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/automobiles-and-airplanes/ >.

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Tobin, Declan. (2022). Fun Facts about Automobiles and Airplanes for Kids. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/automobiles-and-airplanes/

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