The 8 Most Important Years in the History of the Mile High Club

Celebrating 100 years of flying the friendly skies.

1 Lawrence Sperry

Meet Lawrence Burst (now that’s a middle name) Sperry, the inventor of the autopilot.

1914 – American pilot Lawrence Burst Sperry invents the autopilot, giving pilots time to pursue other activities in the cockpit.

Lawrence Burst Sperry and wife for Global Yodel

Lawrence Sperry and his wife Winifred, a noted silent film star. She wasn’t the one in the cockpit when Lawrence “invented” the Mile High Club. 

1916 – Sperry, the same pilot who invented the autopilot, disengages it during a flight and crashes. Duck hunters find him and a woman treading water naked near the coast of Long Island. They insist the force of the crash knocked off their clothes. Everyone else credits them for inventing the Mile High Club.


flip flops for Global Yodel

In the old days, passengers didn’t wear flip flops, shorts or tank tops on airplanes. Image via Keturah Stickann/flickr 

1978 – The Airline Deregulation Act  changes everything for the aviation industry. The days of dressing formal for flights are over and people start to fly in whatever attire they choose.

British Airways for Global Yodel

A first-class seat that transforms into a bed for two? #AskingForIt

1996 – Airlines practically promote the Mile High Club. British Airways introduces a first-class seat that reclines and transforms into a bed for two.


Singapore Airlines for Global Yodel

You guys are scaring Singapore Airlines.

1997 – The airlines’ promotions work a little too well. Singapore Airlines officials say Mile Highers are a “particularly worrying trend.”


8 occupied by N. Tackaberry on flickr

Please. Think of the children. Photo via N. Tackaberry/flickr

2002 – Virgin Atlantic installs diaper-changing tables in airplane lavatories. They’re destroyed within weeks.



This nice cardboard cutout of a flight attendant would appreciate if you quit doing it on her plane. Image via Andrew Currie/flickr

2007 – Things get so bad, Singapore Airlines has to come out and ask passengers to stop engaging in sexual activities on flights.

10 sunset by Kuster & Wildhaber Photography

Who really knows what’s going on in the sky? Image via Kuster & Wildhaber Photography/flickr

2010 – The Mile High Club is possibly quantified. A survey indicates that 3% of people participate in inflight intimacy. Assuming three billion people fly each year – and half of them lie – there could be as many as 45 million Mile High Club meetings annually.


This Yodel by Helen Anne Travis