The year 1914 dramatically changed the world. The Great War for Civilization (now known as World War I) broke out in July and spread as more countries joined in the fighting. Increasingly, military needs shunted aside civilian ones, and the peacetime aviation industry geared up for war. (Look for the slide show on military aviation later in this year.) Early in the year grand plans to build airplanes capable of crossing the Atlantic Ocean were advancing toward designing and building stages. As the war spread, the technical and business need to increase airplane speed and carrying capacity shifted to its military equivalent: speed for battle and bomb-load capacity. The U.S. stayed out of the war until 1917, but even in 1914 its economy and society had begun to prioritize military needs.

From the Scientific American archives of 1914, here is a brief look at aviation research, largely civilian in nature, even if much of it was soon to be co-opted by the war effort.