The first successful heavier-than-air flight was made by Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903. World War I provided an opportunity for the development of better airplanes, initially for reconnaissance and later for more directly military purposes. The federal government became involved in domestic aviation after World War I. Even a strong conservative like President Harding knew the need. Soon after taking office, he said:
It has become a pressing duty of the federal government to provide for the regulation of air navigation; otherwise, independent and conflicting legislation will be enacted by the various states which will hamper the development of aviation. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in a special report on this subject, has recommended the establishment of a Bureau of Aeronautics in the Department of Commerce for the federal regulation of air navigation, which recommendation ought to have legislative approval.