1850, air-craft, in the writings of John Wise, originally in reference to balloons, from air (n.1) + craft (n.). An image from boating, as were many early aviation words. Of airplanes from 1907 and since 1930s exclusively of them. Aircraft carrier is attested from 1919, in reference to H.M.S. Hermes, launched September 1919, the first ship built from the hull up as an aircraft carrier.