1949 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events
1949 Aviation Records
- Speed: (USA), 957-mph, Charles Yeager, Bell X-1, 3/26/1948
- Distance: (USA), 23,093-miles, James Gallagher, Boeing B-50A, 3/2/1949
- Altitude: (USA), 71,920-feet, Frank Everest, Bell X-1, 8/8/1949
- Weight: (USA), 400,000-lbs, Hughes Aircraft Company, H-4 “Hercules (Spruce Goose)”
- Engine Power: (UK), 6,500-lbs thrust, Rolls-Royce, Avon 100
- 1949 — Aerolíneas Argentinas is established.
- 1949 — Royal Jordanian Air Force is formed as the Arab League Air Force.
- 1949 — Republic of Korea Air Force is formed.
- 1949 — Lebanese Air Force is formed.
- 1949 — The de Havilland “Sea Hornets” of No. 801 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, embark aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Implacable, becoming the first British twin-engine single-seat aircraft to operate from an aircraft carrier.
- 1949 — The American Section of the International League of Aviators awards the National Trophy, a Harmon Trophy awarded from 1926 to 1938 to the outstanding aviator of the year in each of the 21 member countries of the now-defunct League and since 1945 by the American Section, for the last time. The trophies it presented from 1945 to 1949 stirred much controversy, with the awards going largely unrecognized.
- Early 1949 — The Royal Navy experiments with landing undercarriage-less aircraft aboard aircraft carriers, landing an experimental de Havilland Sea “Vampire F.21” with strengthened undersides with its landing gear retracted aboard HMS Warrior. HMS Warrior has rubberized deck surfaces installed for the experiments.
- Mid-1949 — The United States Air Force consists of 48 groups.
- January — The United States' force of atomic bomb assembly teams has risen from two in mid-1948 to seven. Each atomic bomb requires two days to be assembled for use.
- January 7 — The Royal Air Force's No. 208 Squadron loses four Supermarine “Spitfires” and a Hawker “Tempest” to Israeli Air Force fighters.
- January 9 — Chuck Yeager makes the only conventional take-off from a runway ever attempted in a Bell X-1, then climbs to 23,000 feet (7,010 m) in 90 seconds.
- January 17 — The British South American Airways Avro “Tudor IV (Star Ariel)” (G-AGRE) disappears without trace on a flight from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica, with the loss of all 20 people on board.
- February 3 — A U.S. Navy Lockheed R6O “Constitution” sets a new record for the number of people carried on a single nonstop flight across the continental United States, taking 96 people — 74 members of the press, four other passengers, and a crew of 18, on a 9-hour 35-minute flight from Moffett Field, California, to Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. The flight also sets a new record for the number of passengers (exclusive of crew members) carried on such a flight.
- February 19 — A British European Airways Douglas “Dakota” and a Royal Air Force Avro “Anson T.21” collide in clear weather over Exhall, England. Both aircraft crash, killing all 10 people on the “Dakota” and the entire four-man crew of the “Anson.”
- February 25 — The Douglas D-558-2 “Skyrocket” makes its first rocket-powered flight.
- February 25 — The U.S. Navy Martin JRM-2 “Mars” flying boat “Caroline Mars” sets a record for the number of people carried on a single flight, transporting 202 men and a crew of four from Alameda to San Diego, California. It then breaks the record on the return flight the same day, carrying 218 men and a crew of four from San Diego to Alameda.
- February 26-March 2 — The Boeing B-50 “Superfortress Lucky Lady II” of the United States Air Force's 43rd Bombardment Group completes the first non-stop around-the-world flight, from and to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona. The 23,452-mile (37,742-km) journey takes 94 hours 1 minute.
- March 4 — The U.S. Navy Martin JRM-2 “Mars” flying boat “Caroline Mars” sets another record for the number of people carried on a single flight, transporting 263 passengers and a crew of six on a 2-hour 41-minute trip from San Diego to Alameda, California.
- March 9 — Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh orders the organization of an Air Force Research Committee for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
- March 31 — The best single month of the Berlin Airlift concludes, with American aircraft having delivered 154,475 short tons (140,139 metric tons) of cargo to West Berlin since March 1.
- April — The Fleet Air Arm re-forms No. 702 Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose to spearhead the introduction of jet aircraft into Royal Navy service.
- April 4 — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is formed.
- April 20-21 — A Royal Air Force Short “Sunderland” flying boat flies medical personnel and supplies to the Royal Navy sloop HMS Amethyst, which had been shelled by Chinese Communist forces on the Yangtze River.
- April 26 — The first African American naval aviator, Jesse L. Brown, is commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy.
- May — The United States Marine Corps practices deploying by helicopter for the first time, in “Exercise Packard III”.
- May — The Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General Hoyt Vandenberg, calls for an American atomic bomb inventory large enough to allow the United States to strike 220 targets.
- Mid-May — A committee of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recommends that the American atomic weapon stockpile be expanded to triple the total number of weapons planned previously.
- May 4 — An Avio Linee Italiane (“Italian Airlines”) Fiat G212.CP airliner crashes into the Superga hill near Turin, Italy, killing all 31 people on board. Among the dead are 18 players and club officials of the Torino A.C., also known as Il Grande Torino, football (soccer) team, journalists accompanying the team, and the plane's crew.
- May 4 — The Canadian “Blue Devils” aerobatic team is formed.
- May 11 — No. 28 Squadron RAF flies from Malaya to Hong Kong to help reinforce the island against Communist forces on mainland China.
- May 12 — A committee to study the effectiveness of American atomic attacks on the Soviet Union appointed by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and chaired by U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Hubert R. Harmon reports that if the U.S. Air Force' Strategic Air Command successfully struck 70 Soviet cities with a combined population of 34.7 million people with atomic bombs, the attack would kill 2.7 million people, injure 4 million, and greatly disrupt the lives of the other 28 million residents. However, it also finds that the attacks would not disrupt a Soviet ground and air offensive in Europe, and that Soviet industry damaged by the attacks would recover quickly, while the Soviet population's will to fight would be reinforced by anger over the attacks.
- May 13 — The first flight of the first British jet bomber occurs, as the English Electric EE.A1, prototype of the English Electric “Canberra” and Martin B-57 “Canberra”, flies for the first time.
- May 13 — A Bell 47 sets an altitude record for helicopters, reaching 18,550 feet (5,654 meters).
- May 19 — The United States Navy Martin JRM-1 “Mars” flying boat “Marshall Mars” sets a new record for the largest number of people to be carried on a single aircraft, taking 308 — 301 passengers and a crew of seven — on a flight from Alameda to San Diego, California.
- May 21 — A Sikorsky S-52 sets a new helicopter altitude record of 21,200 ft (6,468 m).
- June 24 — The Douglas D-558-2 “Skyrocket” exceeds Mach 1 for the first time.
- July 2 — The MacRobertson Miller Aviation Douglas DC-3 airliner “Fitzroy” (VH-MME), crashes on takeoff during a driving rain from Perth, Australia, killing all 18 people on board.
- July 25 — Second Lieutenant Bob Kipp of the Canadian “Blue Devils” aerobatic team is killed in a training accident.
- August 7 — Using the probe-and-drogue aerial refueling system, a Royal Air Force Gloster “Meteor Mk.3” remains aloft continuously for 12 hours 3 minutes, with pilot comfort appearing to be the only factor limiting an ability to stay aloft even longer.
- August 9 — United States Navy Lieutenant J. L. Fruin loses control of his McDonnell F2H-1 “Banshee” and ejects, becoming the first American pilot to use an ejector seat during an actual in-flight emergency.
- August 10 — The Avro Canada C102 “Jetliner” makes its first flight. becoming the first jet airliner designed and built in the Western Hemisphere and the second jet airliner worldwide to fly.
- August 15 — A de Havilland “Tiger Moth” makes the first service flight by an aircraft of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
- August 19 — The British European Airways Douglas DC-3 (G-AHCY) crashes into a hill at Oldham, Manchester, England, killing 24 of the 32 people on board.
- August 23 — BOAC commences its first services to the Far East to be flown entirely by landplanes.
- September 9 — In order to kill his wife Rita, Albert Guay conspires with Généreux Ruest and Marguerite Pitre to plant a dynamite bomb in Rita Guay's luggage aboard Canadian Pacific Air Lines Flight 108, a Douglas DC-3. The bomb explodes in mid-flight over Cap Tourmente near Sault-au-Cochon, Quebec, Canada, en route from Quebec City to Baie-Comeau, Quebec, killing Rita Guay and all of the other 22 people on board. Albert Guay, Ruest, and Pitre all will be hanged for the crime, the worst mass murder in Canadian history at the time.
- September 17 — The Shuttleworth Collection's Blackburn “Type D” monoplane of 1912 makes its first flight after restoration, the oldest airworthy British aircraft.
- September 30 — Berlin Airlift officially ends, with 2,325 tons (2,362 tonnes) of food and supplies having been flown into the city. The final flight is made a week later.
- October — Aerocar International completes the prototype of its first flying automobile, the “Aerocar I”.
- October 27 — Air France Lockheed “Constellation” crashes in the Azores. 48 die including French boxing star Marcel Cerdan and the young concert violinist, Ginette Neveu.
- November — The New Tachikawa Aircraft Company is formed in Japan.
- November 1 — Eastern Air Lines Flight 537, a Douglas C-54B-10-DO, en route from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. collides with a Lockheed P-38 “Lightning” fighter on its final approach to National Airport. Both planes crash, killing all 55 people on board the Douglas. The Lockheed P-38 pilot, Eric Rios Bridaux (a Bolivian Air Force pilot), survives. Among the dead are Congressman George J. Bates and former Congressman Michael J. Kennedy.
- November 16 — Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General Hoyt Vandenberg notes that in a few years the Soviet Union will have 50 to 60 atomic bombs and be able to devastate the United States. He recommends improvements in American air defense capabilities.
- November 18 — A Douglas C-74 “Loadmaster” carries 103 passengers and crew over the North Atlantic, the largest number to have made the crossing in a single flight.
- November 20 — The Aero Holland Douglas DC-3 (PH-TFA) crashes at Hurum, Norway, while on approach to Fornebu Airport outside Oslo, killing 34 of the 35 people on board. Of the 26 Jewish children aboard on their way to Israel, only one, a 12-year-old boy, survives.
- November 29 — American Airlines Flight 157, a Douglas DC-6, crashes while on final approach at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, killing 28 of the 46 people on board and injuring 16 of the 18 survivors.
- December — The Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm takes delivery of its first British-built helicopter, a Westland “Dragonfly”.
- December 8 — Muroc Army Airfield is renamed Edwards Air Force Base in honor of test pilot Glen Edwards.
- December 31 — The U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command has 837 aircraft, of which 521 are capable of delivering atomic bombs.
1949 First Flights
- 1949 — Beriev Be-6 (NATO reporting name “Madge”)
- Late 1949 — Aerocar “Aerocar”
- January 23 — Dassault “Ouragan”
- March 9 — Avro Shackleton prototype (VW126)
- April 10 — Armstrong Whitworth “Apollo”
- April 14 — Aero Ae.50
- April 14 — Helio “Courier”
- April 16 — Lockheed YF-94, prototype of the F-94 “Starfire”
- April 21 — Leduc O.10 - powered flight
- May 9 — Republic XF-91 “Thunderceptor”
- May 13 — English Electric EE.A1 (VN799), prototype of the English Electric “Canberra”, the first British jet bomber.
- June 4 — Lockheed XF-90
- June 20 — Blackburn “Beverley”
- July 17 — Vickers “Varsity”
- July 27 — De Havilland “Comet”, the world's first jet-propelled airliner, at Hatfield, Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.
- August 10 — Avro Canada C102 “Jetliner”
- September 1 — Avro “Ashton”
- September 2 — De Havilland “Venom”
- September 4 — Avro 707 (VX784)
- September 4 — Bristol “Brabazon”
- September 19 — Fairey “Gannet” prototype (VR546)
- September 22 — Convair XAT-29, prototype of the Convair T-29
- September 24 — North American XT-28, prototype of the T-28 “Trojan”
- November 7 — Sikorsky S-55
- November 10 — Piasecki HRP-2 “Rescuer”, improved version of HRP helicopter which also will serve as H-21 “Shawnee” and H-21 “Workhorse”
- November 27 — Douglas C-124 “Globemaster II”
- December 22 — North American F-95A, prototype of the F-86D “Sabre”, also known as the “Sabre Dog”, “Dog Sabre”, and “Dogship”.
1949 Aircraft Entering Service
- February 2 — Lockheed R6O “Constitution” (later R6V “Constitution)” with United States Navy Transport Squadron 44 (VR-44).
- March — Vought F6U “Pirate” with the United States Navy.
- April 1 — Boeing “Stratocruiser” with Pan American World Airways.
- May — Grumman F9F “Panther” with United States Navy Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51).
- October — Avro “Athena” with Royal Air Force Central Flying School.
- December 29 — Lockheed F-94 “Starfire” with the United States Air Force.
- Wikipedia, 1949 in aviation
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