When the first scheduled airline passenger service in the United States took to the skies on May 23, 1926, the nation could not have foreseen just how much air traffic would explode in the following decades. In 1926, there were less than 6,000 airline passengers in the country. Fast-forward to 2022, 96 years later: U.S. airlines carried 853 million passengers from January to December. But even before that, in 1896, the first gasoline-powered car hit U.S. streets, changing local transportation forever.
The uptake of cars and airplanes was so explosive, that some even predicted their convergence. “Mark my word: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming,” Henry Ford famously said of flying cars in 1940. He could not have imagined that 127 years later, 285 million vehicles would drive on U.S. roadways (as of the fourth quarter of 2022), and instead of flying cars, we have electric vehicles — a modality that would have been equally as fantastical to our forebears.