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Aviation’s potential to revolutionize warfare and transport became apparent to hobbyists and politicians alike when the Wright Brothers’ succeed in the first powered flight in December of 1903. Air route development, government regulation, and airway infrastructure have all played a role in the growth of the aviation industry since then. Railroad routes dictated early air routes, reflecting a reliance on the infrastructure provided therein, but also the systematic mindset of contemporary transport managers. In 1925, the federal government passed the Air Mail Act. This law allowed private carriers to contract air mail routes and opening the door for commercial aviation ventures. Passenger air travel soon followed and a booming industry emerged. An industry comprised of fleets of jet aircraft and an intricate system of routes between modern airports. These airports required ample space to accommodate ever growing numbers of flights, but also relied on rail and highway infrastructure to connect easily to urban centers of commerce. Deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 led to an overhaul of airline routes. This favored an efficient hub-and spoke system over the traditional direct line model. The hub-and-spoke system has allowed for further expansion of airport infrastructure, which has led in turn to a reorganization of urban space as commercial centers continue to spring up around large airport complexes on the urban periphery.
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