The first aircraft heavier than air took to the skies in South Dakota
in 1911. Since that time, pilots, mechanics, and dreamers have used aviation in innovative ways to shrink the large distances between the prairies and the mountains of the state. The start of the U.S. Space Program began at the Stratobowl in the 1930s and evolved into today's modern hot air balloons. People have used aircraft, not only for transportation, but also for controlling varmints, from grasshoppers to coyotes. Firefighters routinely use aircraft to put out forest fires, and many a tourist has seen Mount Rushmore from a helicopter. South Dakota has also served the military since World War II with the major bombers of the U.S. Air Force's arsenal. Perhaps best of all, South Dakotans enjoy flying for pure enjoyment.
South Dakota was the site of bitter wars with the Indians before it became a state in 1889.