1947 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events
1947 Aviation Records
- Speed: (USA), 891.07-mph, Charles Yeager, Bell X-1, 11/6/1947
- Distance: (USA), 11,235-miles, Thomas D. Davies, Lockheed P2V-1 Neptune, 10/1/1946
- Altitude: (Italy), 56,046-feet, Mario Pezzi, Caproni 161bis, 10/22/1938
- Weight: (USA), 400,000-lbs, Hughes Aircraft Company, H-4 “Hercules” (“Spruce Goose”)
- Engine Power: (USA), 6,000-lbs thrust, Reaction Motors Inc., XLR 11-RM-5
- 1947 — The United States' inventory of atomic bombs reaches a total of 13 weapons during the year.
- January 7 — Pioneering aviatrix Helen Richey is found dead at the age of 37 in her New York City apartment, apparently having committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills.
- January 8 — A U.S. Joint Intelligence Committee report predicts that by 1956 the Soviet Union will have atomic bombs and strategic bombers capable of delivering them to the continental United States.
- January 11 — The BOAC Douglas C-47A (G-AGJX) crashes into a hill at Stowting in southeast England, killing eight of the 16 people on board and injuring all eight survivors. Among the injured is Member of Parliament Tom Horabin.
- January 14 — The United States replaces the national insignia for its military aircraft adopted in September 1943 with a new marking consisting of a white star centered in a blue circle flanked by white rectangles bisected by a horizontal red stripe, with the entire insignia outlined in blue Roundel of the USAF, which is still in use in the 21st century.
- January 14 — The U.S. Joint Intelligence Staff estimates that in the event of a war the Soviet Union could mobilize 15,000 combat aircraft.
- January 17 — The U.S. Joint Intelligence Committee notes that the Soviet Union maintains a peacetime deployment of 5,000 combat aircraft in Europe.
- January 25 — A Spencer Airways Douglas “Dakota” crashes on takeoff into a parked and empty Czech Airlines Douglas C-47 “Skytrain” at Croydon Airport near London, England, killing 12 of the 23 people aboard the Spencer Airlines plane.
- January 26 — A KLM Douglas DC-3 “Dakota” crashes after take-off from Copenhagen, killing all 22 on board, including Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten of Sweden.
- February 25 — The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the United States use atomic bombs early in any war with the Soviet Union and call for an increase in the American inventory of atomic weapons.
- February 28 — In a single flight, U.S. Army Air Forces Captain Robert E. Thacker (pilot) and Lieutenant John M. Ard (co-pilot) in the North American P-82B “Twin Mustang” fighter “Betty Jo” make both the longest nonstop flight without aerial refueling by a fighter aircraft, about 4,968 statute miles (7,994 km) from Hickam Field in the Territory of Hawaii to La Guardia Field in New York City, and the fastest flight between Hawaii and New York City up to that time, 14 hours 31 minutes 50 seconds at an average speed of 342 mph (550 km/hr). It remains both the longest non-stop flight by a piston-engine fighter and the fastest Hawaii-to-New York City flight by a piston-engine aircraft in history.
- March 3 — In Naval Strategic Planning Study 3, the Strategic Plans Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations asserts that U.S. Navy aircraft carriers will be able to operate successfully against the coast of the Soviet Union in the face of substantial land-based Soviet air power, stating that the carriers are “the only weapon in the possession of the U.S. which can deliver early and effective attacks against Russian air power and selective shore objectives in the initial stages of a Russo-American conflict.” The findings anger U.S. Air Force planners, who view strategic attacks against the Soviet Union as a strictly Air Force mission.
- March 5 — The 26th country ratifies the Convention on International Civil Aviation, permitting a permanent organization to replace the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO).
- March 14 — Saudi Arabian Airlines begins regular domestic services.
- March 16 — Saudi Arabian Airlines begins regular international services.
- April 4 — The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is formed under the terms of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, replacing the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO), which had operated since June 1945.
- April 27 — A United Airlines Douglas DC-6 becomes the first Douglas DC-6 to be placed in overseas service when it flies from San Francisco, California, to Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii.
- May — The Royal Navy forms its first all-helicopter squadron, No. 705 Squadron, which serves as the Fleet Air Arm's Helicopter Fleet Requirements Unit at Gosport.
- May 1 — United Airlines begins daily scheduled service between San Francisco and Honolulu.
- May 15 — The U.S. Joint War Planning Committee reports that the Soviet Air Force has 13,100 combat aircraft and that the Soviet satellite states have another 3,309, and that a month after the beginning of mobilization this could increase to 20,000 Soviet and 3,359 satellite state aircraft. It estimates that in an offensive in central Europe, the Soviet Union would employ 7,000 attack aircraft.
- May 28 — British South American Airways conducts trials of non-stop flights from London to Bermuda using aerial refueling over the Azores.
- May 29 — The Douglas DC-4 “Mainliner (Lake Tahoe)”, operating as United Airlines Flight 521, fails to become airborne while attempting to take off from LaGuardia Airport in New York City, runs off the end of the runway, and slams into an embankment, killing 42 of the 48 people on board. It is the worst aviation disaster in American history at the time, although the death toll will be exceeded in a crash the following day.
- May 30 — During a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Florida, an Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-4 disintegrates in flight at an altitude of 6,000 feet (1,829 m) and crashes into a swamp near Baltimore, Maryland, killing all 53 people on board. It replaces the previous day's United Airlines crash as the deadliest airline accident in American history. Among the dead are two relatives of a man who had died the previous day in the United crash. The 97 deaths in the two crashes exceed the entire commercial aviation death toll in the United States for 1946.
- June 17 — Pan American World Airways begins a New York City-to-San Francisco service flying east-to-west around most of the globe.
- June 19 — United States Army Air Forces Colonel Albert Boyd sets a new official world airspeed record of 623.62 mph (1,003.81 km/h) in a Lockheed P-80 “Shooting Star”. (This is still marginally slower than unofficial German speed records in rocket-powered aircraft during World War II).
- June 24 — Kenneth Arnold is piloting a CallAir A-2 at about 9,200 feet (2,804 m) near Mineral, Washington, when he sights what he reports to be a group of disc-like unidentified flying objects flying in a chain which he clocks at a minimum of 1,200 mph (1,932 km/hr). He refers to them as looking like saucers, leading the press to coin the term “flying saucer,” which soon enters everyday speech.
- June 30 — The Evaluation Board for “Operation Crossroads” submits its final report on the July 1946 atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. It finds that an atomic attack could go beyond stopping a country's military effort and in addition wreck its economic and social structure for lengthy periods, and could even depopulate large portions of the earth's surface, threaten the existence of civilization, and cause the extinction of mankind. It recommends that the United States develop a large inventory of atomic weapons and the means to deliver them promptly and be prepared to strike first, with legal authority to launch a massive atomic strike to preempt a foreign strike if there are indications that an adversary is preparing one.
- July 3 — The Philippine Air Force is formed.
- July 15 — Northwest Airlines launches the first commercial passenger service from the U.S.A. to Asia's Far East along the North Pacific route with Douglas DC-4 “The Manila”, linking Minneapolis/St. Paul (USA) and Tokyo (Japan), Shanghai (China) and Manila (Philippines) by way of Edmonton (Canada) (technical stop), Anchorage (Alaska USA) and Shemya (USA) (technical stop). The Northwest Seattle—Anchorage service offered a connection (at Anchorage) with this new operation to the Orient. Seoul (South Korea) was included as a stop on the Northwest Airlines route to the Orient in August 1947.
- July 26 — President of the United States Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the United States Department of Defense. Among its many provisions is one which states that the soon-to-be established United States Air Force “shall include aviation forces both combat and service not otherwise assigned.” This wording allows the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps to retain their aviation forces upon the establishment of the independent Air Force in September 1947.
- August — Bad weather forces a U.S. Marine Corps pilot down in communist-controlled territory near Tsingtao, China, during the Chinese Civil War. A landing party of U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy sailors destroys his plane to prevent its capture but fails to retrieve him, and the Chinese Communists return him to U.S. custody only after lengthy negotiations.
- August 2 — The British South American Airways Avro “Lancastrian (Star Dust)” (G-AGWH) disappears over the Andes during a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile, with the loss of all 11 people on board. Its wreckage finally will be discovered in glacial ice on Argentina's Tupungato mountain in 1998.
- August 3 — A Tushino air parade in Moscow in the Soviet Union presents the newest Soviet jets including the Yakovlev Yak-19, Lavochkin La-150, Lavochkin La-156, Lavochkin La-160, Sukhoi Su-9, and Sukhoi Su-11, among others.
- August 4 — In an assessment of the defense of the Iberian Peninsula from Soviet invasion if Soviet forces reached the Pyrenees, the U.S. Joint Warfare Planning Committee reports that the Spanish Air Force has only 330 combat aircraft, all obsolete, and that the Portuguese Air Force is small and also obsolete, and that they would face about 1,000 Soviet aircraft. It finds that a defense of the peninsula at the Pyrenees would require the deployment of 739 ground-based combat aircraft and nine aircraft carriers to the area.
- August 10 — British European Airways (BEA) begins the world's first regular cargo-only airline service.
- August 15 — The Royal Pakistan Air Force is formed.
- August 20 — Flying the Douglas D-558-1 “Skystreak”, U.S. Navy Commander Turner F. Caldwell sets a new world air speed record of 640.796 mph (1,031.878 km/h) over Muroc, California, the first aircraft ever to officially exceed the October 2, 1941 record of 624 mph, set by a Messerschmitt Me.163A rocket fighter prototype.
- August 23 — The Avro “Tudor 2” prototype (G-AGSU), crashes on take-off at Woodford, Greater Manchester, killing Avro chief designer Roy Chapman and test pilot S. A. Thorn.
- August 25 — Flying the Douglas D-558-1 “Skystreak”, United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Marion Carl achieves another world air speed record, reaching 650 mph (1,047 km/h).
- August 28 — The Norwegian Air Lines Short S.25 “Sandringham 6” flying boat Kvitbjørn crashes into a mountain near Lødingsfjellet in Lødingen, Norway, killing all 35 people on board. It is the deadliest aviation accident in Norwegian history at the time.
- August 29 — The U.S. Joint Warfare Planning Committee reports that in East Asia as of July 1 the Soviet Union has about 2,200 aircraft, increasing to 3,000 by 135 days after the start of war, opposed by 978 aircraft of the U.S. Army Air Forces in East Asia and the Territory of Alaska, 212 British and British Empire aircraft in the theater of war, and 480 operational Republic of China Air Force aircraft.
- September 6 — In an early test of the feasibility of fielding naval strategic missiles, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) launches a V-2 rocket off her flight deck while steaming in the Atlantic Ocean off Bermuda.
- September 17 — The United States Army Air Forces are separated from the United States Army and become an independent armed service, the United States Air Force.
- September 18 — The United States Department of the Air Force is created, and W. Stuart Symington becomes the first United States Secretary of the Air Force.
- September 23 — The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the United States Government pass legislation authorizing the United States Armed Forces to launch an atomic attack on the Soviet Union if one is required to prevent a Soviet atomic attack on the United States.
- September 26 — General Carl A. Spaatz becomes the first Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.
- September 30 — The U.S. Joint Warfare Planning Committee reports that the Soviet Union lacks a strategic air force and poses no threat to the United States or Canada. It finds that the Soviets have about 100 heavy bombers that could reach Greenland and the Azores if Soviet ground forces captured forward bases for them in Norway and Spain, and about 100 medium bombers capable of striking Bear Island, Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen, Iceland, and the Faeroe Islands.
- October — The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) becomes an agency of the United Nations linked to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
- October — The U.S. Joint Intelligence Committee predicts that the Soviet Union probably will have atomic bombs by 1951 or 1952, and that the major target for such weapons would be American atomic bomb plants and major American cities.
- October 1 — Los Angeles Airways begins the first scheduled carriage of airmail by helicopter.
- October 1 — George Welch allegedly breaks the sound barrier during a dive in the North American XP-86. The claim remains disputed.
- October 14 — U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager takes the rocket-powered Bell X-1 past the speed of sound in the first controlled, supersonic, level flight. The flight, which achieves Mach 1.06, sets a new world air speed record of 807.2 mph (1,299 km/h). A few days later, the same aircraft sets a new world altitude record, reaching 21,372 meters (70,119 feet).
- October 24 — United Airlines Flight 608, a Douglas DC-6 (NC37510) en route to Chicago from Los Angeles, catches fire and crashes while attempting an emergency landing at the Bryce Canyon, Utah, airport, killing all 52 people aboard. It is the first crash of a Douglas DC-6 and the second-deadliest air crash in U.S. history at the time.
- October 26-November 7 — Rhulin A. Thomas makes the first solo coast-to-coast flight by a deaf pilot. (Calbraith Perry Rodgers was an earlier deaf pilot who flew coast-to-coast in 1911, but was supported by a team on the ground.)
- November 2 — With Howard Hughes at the controls, the Hughes H-4 “Hercules”, also known as the “Spruce Goose,”" makes its first flight, traveling at 135 mph (217 km/hr) for about a mile (1.6 km) at an altitude of 70 feet (21 meters) over Long Beach Harbor in California with 32 people on board. Both the largest flying boat and the aircraft with the largest wingspan (319 feet 11 inches; 97.54 meters) ever built, it never flies again.
- December — The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff note that the U.S. Air Force has 33 strategic bombers capable of dropping atomic bombs, and that this will rise to 120 bombers in November 1948. They also note that the number of atomic bomb assembly teams will rise to three by June 1948 and seven by July 1949; each bomb requires two days to assemble. They call for the production of 400 atomic bombs by January 1, 1953.
- December 1 — The United States Marine Corps commissions its first helicopter squadron, Marine Experimental Helicopter Squadron 1 (HMX-1). It is based at Marine Corps Air Station Quantico, Virginia.
- December 27 — An Air India Douglas C-47C-DO crashes into Korangi Creek shortly after takeoff from Karachi, Pakistan, killing all 23 people on board. It is the first fatal airline accident in Pakistan's history as an independent country.
1947 First Flights
- 1947 — Beriev LL-143, early prototype of the Beriev Be-6 (NATO reporting name “Madge”).
- January 8 — Yakovlev Yak-19.
- January 11 — McDonnell XF2H-1, prototype of the F2H “Banshee”.
- February 12 — Sikorsky S-52.
- March — Lavochkin La-156.
- March 16 — Convair CV-240 “Convairliner”.
- April 1 — Blackburn “Firecrest”.
- May 28 — Sukhoi Su-11 (1947), first aircraft with Soviet-designed jet engines.
- May 28 — Douglas D-558-1 “Skystreak”.
- May 30 — Boulton Paul “Balliol”.
- June — Yakovlev Yak-15U, a prototype of Yak-17.
- June — Lavochkin La-160, first Soviet swept-wing fighter.
- June 22 — Martin XB-48.
- June 25 — Boeing B-50 “Superfortress”.
- June 30 — Avions Fairey “Junior” (OO-TIT).
- June 30 — Vickers “Valetta” (VL249).
- July 8 — Boeing 377.
- July 8 — Yakovlev Yak-23.
- July 10 — Airspeed “Ambassador” (G-AGUA).
- July 16 — Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 (TG263).
- July 21 — Aero 45.
- July 24 — Ilyushin Il-22.
- July 27 — Tupolev Tu-12, first Soviet jet bomber.
- July 27 — Bristol “Sycamore”, first British helicopter.
- August 9 — FMA I.Ae. 27 “Pulqui I”.
- August 31 — Antonov An-2 (“Colt”).
- September 2 — Hawker P.1040 (VP401).
- October 1 — North American XP-86, prototype of the F-86 “Sabre”.
- October 21 — Northrop YB-49 jet-powered “Flying Wing”.
- October 24 — Grumman XJR2F-1, prototype of the UF-1, later HU-16, “Albatross”.
- November 2 — Hughes H-4 “Hercules” (“Spruce Goose”).
- November 2 — Yakovlev Yak-25.
- November 17 — Fairchild C-119 “Flying Boxcar”.
- November 24 — Grumman XF9F-2, prototype of the F9F-2 “Panther”.
- December 3 — Beriev Be-8 (NATO reporting name “Mole”).
- December 17 — Boeing XB-47, prototype of the B-47 “Stratojet”.
- December 30 — Mikoyan-Gurevich I-310, prototype of the MiG-15 “Fagot”.
1947 Aircraft Entering Service
- March — Lockheed P2V “Neptune” (later P-2 “Neptune”) with the United States Navy.
- April — Douglas DC-6 with American Airlines.
- August — McDonnell FH “Phantom” with United States Navy Fighter Squadron 171 (VF-171).
- October 31 — — Avro Tudor 4 with British South American Airways.
- November — McDonnell FH “Phantom” with United States Marine Corps Marine Fighter Squadron 122 (VMF-122), first deployment of a jet by a U.S. Marine Corps combat unit.
- November — Republic F-84B “Thunderjet” with the United States Air Force 14th Fighter Group.
1947 Aircraft Retired from Service
- 1947 — Convair 110 by Convair.
- March — Ryan FR “Fireball” by the United States Navy.
- Wikipedia, 1947 in aviation
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