1955 Master Index 1957

1956 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

January 1956

  • January 15 — The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force acquires its first aircraft, taking delivery of Lockheed P2V-7 “Neptune” maritime patrol planes from the United States Navy. [1]

February 1956

  • February 8 — Eight Hawker “Hunter” fighters of the Royal Air Force's Central Fighter Establishment are caught in suddenly deteriorating weather with little fuel left and try to land at RAF Marham, England. Two land safely, but the other six are destroyed in crashes in the vicinity of Swaffham and RAF Marham, with one of the pilots killed. [1]

  • February 18 — An engine fire breaks out on a Scottish Airlines Avro “York” just after takeoff from Malta International Airport, Luqa, Malta. The aircraft stalls as the crew attempts to turn Back to the airport and crashes into the ground near Zurrieq, Malta, killing all 50 people on board. [1]

March 1956

  • March — The Piasecki Helicopter Corporation is renamed Vertol Aircraft Corporation. [1]

  • March 10 — A United States Air Force Boeing B-47E-95-BW “Stratojet” and its crew of three disappear without trace over the Mediterranean Sea. No wreckage or bodies are ever found. [1]

  • March 10 — Fairey Aviation test pilot Peter Twiss sets a new airspeed record in the Fairey “Delta 2”, also becoming the first person to exceed 1,000 mph (1,610 km/hr) in level flight. His top speed is 1,132 mph (1,821 km/h). [1]

April 1956

  • April 1 — Trans World Airlines Flight 400, a Martin 4-0-4, crashes on takeoff from Greater Pittsburgh International Airport in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, killing 22 of the 36 people on board. [1]

  • April 2 — A Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter” piloted by Joe Ozier exceeds Mach 2 for the first time, becoming the first production fighter to do so. [1]

  • April 2 — Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2 ditches in Puget Sound shortly after takeoff from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in King County, Washington. All 38 people aboard escape the plane; seven of them are injured, and five of the seven later die of their injuries. [1]

May 1956

  • May 21 — A USAF Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” drops a 3.75-megaton hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Central Pacific Ocean. It is the first air drop of a hydrogen bomb. [1]

June 1956

  • June 20 — The U.S. Navy commissions its first helicopter carrier, USS Thetis Bay (CVE-90), redesignated CVHA-1 on July 1. [1]

  • June 24 — The BOAC Canadair C-4 “Argonaut” (G-ALHE) strikes a tree and crashes on departure from Kano Airport in Kano, Nigeria, killing 32 of the 45 people on board. Four of the 13 survivors are seriously injured. [1]

  • June 30 — A United Airlines Douglas DC-7 and a Trans World Airlines Lockheed “Super Constellation” collide in mid-air over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, killing all 128 passengers and crew aboard both airplanes in the deadliest air disaster in history at the time; the crash triggers sweeping changes in the regulations governing cross-country flight over the United States, which would include the creation of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA, later renamed Federal Aviation Administration). [1]

July 1956

  • July 9 — The No. 4 propeller of a Trans-Canada Air Lines Vickers “Viscount 700” carrying 35 people tears loose from its engine over Flat Rock, Michigan, and strikes the plane's passenger cabin, killing one person and injuring five. The airliner lands safely at Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It is the first propeller loss on a turboprop aircraft and the first accident involving a “Viscount”. [1]

August 1956

  • August 21 — Flying a Vought F8U-1 “Crusader” fighter, U.S. Navy Commander R. W. “Duke” Windsor sets a U.S. national speed record over a 15 km (9.3 mi) course, averaging 1,015.428 mph (1,635.150 km/hr) at China Lake, California. [1]

  • August 22 — People's Republic of China fighters shoot down a Japan-based U.S. Navy Martin P4M “Mercator” aircraft of Electronic Countermeasures Squadron One (VQ-1) during a night reconnaissance mission over the Taiwan Strait, killing all 16 men aboard the Mercator. [1]

  • August 22 — The last passenger flight by a Martin JRM “Mars” flying boat is completed when U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Virgil Solomon lands the “Marianas Mars” at Alameda, California, at the end of a flight from Honolulu, Hawaii. [1]

  • August 23-24 — A United States Army Piasecki H-21C “Shawnee” makes the first non-stop helicopter flight across the continental United States, flying 2,610 miles (4,203 km) from San Diego, California, to Washington, D.C. [1]

September 1956

  • September — A U.S. Navy Convair R3Y-2 “Tradewind” flying boat sets a world record for the number of aircraft refueled in flight simultaneously, refueling four U.S. Navy Grumman F9F-8 “Cougar” fighters at the same time. [1]

  • September 7 — USAF Captain Iven C. Kincheloe becomes the first pilot to climb above 100,000 feet, flying the Bell X-2 research aircraft to a new world altitude record of 126,200 feet (38,466 meters). He receives the MacKay Trophy for the flight. [1]

  • September 24 — The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) is re-formed in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). [1]

  • September 27 — USAF Captain Milburn Apt sets a new world air speed record in the Bell X-2, becoming the first person to exceed Mach 3, reaching a speed of Mach 3.2 — 2,094 mph (3,350 km/h) — before he loses control of the X-2 and dies in the resulting crash. His speed record will stand until 1961. [1]

October 1956

  • October 1 — Chapter Two of the Experimental Aircraft Association is chartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana. [1]

  • October 10 — During a scheduled Military Air Transportation Service flight from RAF Lakenheath, England, to Lajes Field in the Azores, the United States Navy Douglas R6D-1 “Liftmaster” (BuNo 131588) of Air Transport Squadron 6 (VR-6) crashes into the Atlantic Ocean about 369 miles (590 km) off Land's End, England, killing all 59 people on board. [1]

  • October 11 — A Vickers “Valiant” of the Royal Air Force's No. 49 Squadron drops the United Kingdom's first air-dropped atomic bomb, over Maralinga, South Australia. [1]

  • October 16 — The Pan American World Airways Boeing 377 Stratocruiser 10-29 “Clipper Sovereign of the Skies”, operating as Flight 6, ditches in the Pacific Ocean northeast of the Hawaiian Islands after mechanical problems leave it with insufficient fuel to reach an airport. All 31 people aboard survive — with only a few suffering minor injuries — and are rescued by the United States Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Pontchartrain (WPG-70). [1]

  • October 29 — “Operation Kadesh”, an Israeli operation to occupy the Sinai Peninsula, begins with strikes by Israeli Air Force North American F-51 “Mustangs” against Egyptian forces and facilities throughout the Sinai and the parachute drop by Douglas DC-3s of an 395-man Israeli battalion near the Sinai's Mitla Pass, where French aircraft drop supplies to them by parachute. Four Israeli North American F-51 “Mustangs” severely disrupt Egyptian command and control in the Sinai by cutting all overhead telephone lines there with their wings and propellers. Israel begins the conflict with 155 combat aircraft, while Egypt has 255. [1]

  • October 29-November 1 — Egyptian Air Force de Havilland “Vampires” and Gloster “Meteors” escorted by Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 “Fagots” attack Israeli ground forces in the Sinai, while Israeli Air Force Dassault “Mystere IV” fighters escort Israeli transport aircraft. The Israelis shoot down between seven and nine Egyptian aircraft in exchange for one of their own. [1]

  • October 31 — A U.S. Navy Douglas R4D “Skytrain” is the first aircraft to land at the South Pole. [1]

  • October 31 — The United Kingdom and France begin “Operation Musketeer”, employing virtually all of their power projection capabilities in an attempt to seize the Suez Canal from Egypt during the Suez Crisis, closely coordinated with Israel's “Operation Kadesh”. The British commit 70 aircraft to the operation, while the French commit 45. The initial strikes against Egypt's Almaza airfield by Cyprus-based Royal Air Force English Electric “Canberras” overnight on October 31-November 1 are ineffective. [1]

November 1956

  • November 1 — During the day, British Fleet Air Arm de Havilland “Sea Venoms”, Chance Vought “Corsairs”, and Hawker “Sea Hawks” from the aircraft carriers HMS Eagle, HMS Albion, and HMS Bulwark conduct a series of daylight strikes against Egyptian airbases, destroying over 200 aircraft … mostly on the ground … by nightfall and knocking the Egyptian Air Force out of action. It begins the first large-scale action by the Fleet Air Arm since the end of World War II in 1945. The Egyptian President Abdel Nasser orders Egyptian pilots to fly all surviving aircraft to southern Egypt and avoid further action against British, French, and Israeli forces. [1]

  • November 2 — After aerial reconnaissance reveals the destruction of the Egyptian Air Force, the British invasion force commander, General Sir Charles Keightley, orders British and French aircraft to begin a wide-ranging interdiction campaign against Egypt's military bases, infrastructure, and economy. [1]

  • November 3 — Vought F4U-7 “Corsairs” from the French aircraft carriers Arromanches and La Fayette bomb the aerodrome at Cairo. Israeli jets mistakenly attack the British sloop HMS Crane in the Gulf of Aqaba, and HMS Crane shoots one down in self-defense. [1]

  • November 4 — Israeli Air Force aircraft make a large strike against Egyptian positions at Sharm el-Sheikh, after which two Israeli Army brigades occupy the area. [1]

  • November 5 — The British and French bombing campaign against Egypt ends, with fixed-wing aircraft from the three British aircraft carriers alone having flown 1,300 sorties. Late in the day, the first British forces come ashore in Egypt as elements of the 3rd Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment land by parachute at El Gamil airfield and are reinforced by additional elements brought in by helicopter from the British aircraft carriers HMS Ocean and HMS Theseus. [1]

  • November 6 — The world's first ship-based helicopter-borne assault takes place, as helicopters from HMS Ocean and i land 425 men of the Royal Marines' 45 Commando and 23 tons of stores in Port Said, Egypt, in 90 minutes. During the day, over 1,000 French paratroopers jump into Egypt, and French Vought F4U-7 “Corsairs“ and Republic F-84F “Thunderstreaks” provide close air support to French forces. A cease fire ends hostilities between Egypt and the United Kingdom, France, and Israel in the evening, with the Israeli Air Force having flown 489 missions, mostly against ground targets, over the Sinai Peninsula. The last major operation by a British aircraft carrier force in history comes to an end. [1]

  • November 7 — The Norwegian airline Braathens SAFE has its first fatal accident when a de Havilland DH.114 “Heron 2B” crashes into the mountain Hummelfjell in Tolga, Norway, killing two of the 12 people on board. Among the survivors is Norwegian journalist and radio and television personality Rolf Kirkvaag, who suffers a broken foot; along with another passenger, he walks 18 km (11 miles) from the crash site to find help the following day. [1]

  • November 28 — The Ryan X-13 “Vertijet” makes its first transition from vertical to horizontal flight. [1]

  • November 30 — The jet-propelled Martin MGM-1 “Matador” completes flight testing to become the USAF's first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile. [1]

December 1956

  • December 9 — Encountering icing and severe turbulence while flying over the mountains of British Columbia, Trans-Canada Air Lines Flight 810, a Canadair “North Star”, crashes into Mount Slesse, near Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, killing all 62 people on board. Among the dead are Canadian football players Cal Jones of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Mel Becket, Mario DeMarco, Gordon Sturtridge and Ray Syrnyk of the Saskatchewan Roughriders; DeMarco also is a former National Football League player. [1]

  • December 13 — The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issues an airworthiness certificate to Aerocar International's “Aerocar”, a flying automobile. [1]

  • December 14 — Brazil becomes the first country in Latin America to acquire an aircraft carrier, purchasing HMS Vengeance from the United Kingdom. In 1960, she will become the second Latin American aircraft carrier to enter service, as Minas Gerais. [1]

1956 First Flights

  • March 12 — Brochet MB.110. [1]

  • March 26 — Temco TT “Pinto”. [1]

  • April 17 — SFECMAS “Gerfaut II”. [1]

  • April 20 — SNCASE “Durandal”. [1]

  • April 21 — Douglas F5D “Skylancer” [1]

  • April 24 — Douglas C-133 “Cargomaster”. [1]

  • May 19 — Aerfer “Sagittario 2”. [1]

  • May 26 — Sukhoi Su-9. [1]

  • June 2 — Boisavia “Anjou”. [1]

  • June 20 — Beriev Be-10 (NATO reporting name “Mallow”). [1]

  • June 24 — Sukhoi T-405, prototype of the Sukhoi Su-9 (NATO reporting name “Fitter-B” and “Fishpot”). [1]

  • July 20 — Aerotécnica AC-12. [1]

  • July 23 — Dassault “étendard II”. [1]

  • July 24 — Dassault “étendard IV”. [1]

  • July 30 — Pasotti F.9 “Sparviero”. [1]

  • August 1 — Aeritalia G.91. [1]

  • August 6 — Beechcraft “Travel Air”. [1]

  • August 11 — Cessna 620. [1]

  • August 31 — Boeing KC-135 “Stratotanker”. [1]

  • September 10 — North American YF-107, prototype of the North American F-107 “Ultra Sabre”. [1]

  • October 22 — Bell XH-40 (Bell Model 204), prototype of the UH-1 “Iroquois”. [1]

  • November 11 — Convair XB-58. [1]

  • November 17 — Dassault “Mirage III”. [1]

  • December 17 — Short SC.1. [1]

  • December 17 — Grumman E-1 “Tracer”. [1]

  • December 26 — Convair YF-106A, prototype of the F-106 “Delta Dart”. [1]

1956 Aircraft Entering Service

  • February 24 — Gloster “Javelin” with No. 46 Squadron RAF. [1]

  • March 31 — Convair R3Y “Tradewind” with United States Navy Transport Squadron 2 (VR-2). [1]

  • March 31 — Douglas A3D “Skywarrior” with United States Navy Heavy Attack Squadron 1 (VAH-1). [1]

  • April — Convair F-102A “Delta Dagger” with the United States Air Force's 327th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. [1]

  • April 16 — Douglas F4D “Skyray”, the United States Navy's first supersonic fighter, with Composite Squadron 13 (VC-13). [1]

  • August 31 — Avro “Vulcan” with No. 83 Squadron RAF. [1]

  • September 15 — Tupolev Tu-104, the Soviet Union's first jet airliner, with Aeroflot. [1]

  • December 9 — Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” with the United States Air Force 463rd Troop Carrier Wing. [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1956 in aviation

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