Depending on how one wants to look at things, aviation history looks back somewhere around two thousand years. From sticking bird feathers on the fragile human and jumping off towers. From Greek mythology and the legend of Icarus' fateful journey too close to the sun. The early kites of China from the 5th Century BC have been said to be the first man-made aircraft. Then, the Renaissance designs of da Vinci. All early indications of man's interest in flight.
The balloons of the Montgolfier brothers, assisted by the discovery of hydrogen gas drove 18th Century development, including the first crewed flight. Balloon development continued with blimps and eventually culminating as the dirigible airships, the Zeppelins. The early rigid Zeppelin flew, albeit not without issues, in July 1900.
Sir George Cayley
Aviation 1.0 was almost entirely about proving powered, and controlled flight was possible.