1960 Master Index 1962

1961 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

January 1961

  • January 3 — Aero Flight 311 (Koivulahti air disaster): Douglas DC-3C (OH-LCC) of Finnish airline Aero crashes near Kvevlax (Koivulahti) on approach to Vaasa Airport in Finland killing all 25 on board, due to pilot error: an investigation finds that the captain and first officer were both exhausted for lack of sleep and had taken excessive alcohol at the time of the crash. It remains the deadliest air disaster to occur in the country. [1]

  • January 24 — A United States Air Force Boeing B-52G Stratofortress carrying two Mark 39 thermonuclear bombs breaks up in mid-air over Faro, North Carolina, and crashes, killing three of its eight-man crew. The bombs do not arm themselves and one bomb is recovered. Travelling at over 700 miles per hour (1,127 km/hr), the second bomb lands in a swamp and buries itself to a depth of over 75 feet; flooding prevents its recovery. [1]

February 1961

  • February 1 — Trans-Canada Air Lines becomes the first sustained operator of the Vickers Vanguard. [1]

  • February 3 — Operation Looking Glass commences, meaning that the US Air Force Strategic Air Command would have a permanent, airborne command post. [1]

  • February 15 — Sabena Flight 548, a Boeing 707, crashes at Brussels, Belgium. All 72 aboard (including the entire United States Figure Skating team), as well as one person on the ground, are killed. It is the first fatal accident involving the Boeing 707. [1]

March 1961

  • March 7 — Flying a North American X-15, U.S. Air Force Major Robert M. White becomes the first pilot to exceed Mach 4. [1]

  • March 14 — A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52F Stratofortress carrying two nuclear weapons crashes in Sutter County, California, west of Yuba City. The weapons do not arm and the eight-man crew ejects safely, although a fire fighter responding to the crash is killed and several people are injured in a road accident. [1]

  • March 28 — Air Afrique is formed. [1]

April 1961

  • April 1 — VIASA — the flag carrier of Venezuela — commences operations. [1]

  • April 7 — Moisture condensing in a connector plug causes a GAR-8 Sidewinder air-to-air missile carried by a New Mexico Air National Guard North American F-100A Super Sabre of the 188th Fighter Interceptor Squadron to fire accidentally while the North American F-100A Super Sabre is practicing bomber interception tactics against the U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52B Stratofortress Ciudad Juarez of the Strategic Air Command's 95th Bombardment Wing. The missile blows off the Boeing B-52B Stratofortress's port wing, and the bomber crashes on Mount Taylor in New Mexico, killing three members of its crew. [1]

  • April 12 — Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin makes the first human spaceflight, orbiting the Earth once in 108 minutes in Vostok 1. [1]

  • April 15 — In Operation Puma, eight Douglas B-26B Invaders painted in Cuban Air Force markings manned by anti-Castro Cuban exiles of the Fuerza Aérea de Liberación ("Liberation Air Force") fly from Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, to attack airfields at San Antonio de los Baños and Ciudad Libertad, Cuba, and Antonio Maceo Airport at Santiago de Cuba. They destroy a mixture of Cuban Air Force aircraft — a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, a Consolidated PBY Catalina, five Douglas B-26 Invaders, a Hawker Sea Fury, a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, and two Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, among others — and a number of civilian aircraft, including a Douglas DC-3. One attacking Douglas B-26 Invader is shot down by antiaircraft fire at Havana and its crew is lost; two Douglas B-26 Invaders land in Florida, and one in the Cayman Islands and are not returned to the Cuban exiles. [1]

  • April 17 — Anti-Castro Cuban exiles invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Five Curtiss C-46 Commandos and one Douglas C-54 Skymaster drop a battaltion of their paratroopers into Cuba, losing one Curtiss C-46 Commando, and later parachute supplies to exile troops ashore, while the remaining Douglas B-26 Invader bombers of their Fuerza Aérea de Liberación — some flown by Central Intelligence Agency contractors and personnel of the Alabama Air National Guard — provide close air support near the beachhead. The invading exiles shoot down two Cuban Hawker Sea Furies and two Cuban Douglas B-26 Invaders with antiaircraft fire. The Cuban Air Force has only six operational aircraft, but two of its Hawker Sea Furies sink two of the exiles' five ships and drive off the rest and its only two jets - Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star trainers - shoot down four Fuerza Aérea de Liberación Douglas B-26 Invaders. The exiles' Douglas B-26 Invaders and Douglas C-54 Skymasters continue to support the beachhead the following day. United States Navy ships supporting the exiles include the anti-submarine warfare carrier USS Essex (CVS-9) and the helicopter assault carrier USS Boxer (LPH-4), and the attack aircraft carrier USS Shangri-La (CVA-38) is active near the Cayman Islands, but their aircraft see no combat, limiting their activities to combat air patrol, reconnaissance, and search and rescue flights. [1]

  • April 19 — Six Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk attack aircraft from Attack Squadron 34 (VA-34) aboard USS Essex fly a combat air patrol over the exiles' beachhead at the Bay of Pigs, to protect Fuerza Aérea de Liberación Douglas B-26 Invaders providing close air support there, but a mix-up over time zones leads two of the Douglas B-26 Invaders - manned by Central Intelligence Agency contractor personnel - to arrive after the Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawks have departed; they are shot down by two Cuban Lockheed T-33 Shooting Stars, with their crews killed. The exiles in the beachhead surrender later in the day. The Cuban Air Force has suffered four aircraft shot down and at least five destroyed on the ground during the invasion, while the exiles have lost seven Douglas B-26 Invaders with the lost of 10 Cubans and four Americans aboard them, and one Curtiss C-46 Commando and its crew. [1]

May 1961

  • May 1 — The first hijacking of an American airliner - and first inside the United States - takes place, when Antulio Ramirez Ortiz, armed with a gun and a steak knife, commandeers a National Airlines plane bound from Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, to Key West, Florida, and forces it to fly to Havana, Cuba. [1]

  • May 3 — The Boeing Airplane Company changes its name to Boeing Company. [1]

  • May 24 — To celebrate the 50th anniversary of naval aviation in the United States, five United States Navy McDonnell F4H-1F Phantom II fighters fly across the United States in less than three hours in Operation LANA. The fastest, flown by Lieutenants Richard F. Gordon, Jr., (pilot) and Bobbie Long (radar intercept officer), sets a new record for a transcontinental flight across the United States, flying from Ontario, California, to Floyd Bennett Field in New York City in 2 hours 47 minutes at an average speed of 869.74 mph (1,400.28 km/h) with three in-flight refuelings. They receive the 1961 Bendix Trophy for their flight. [1]

  • May 30 — Viasa Flight 897, a Douglas DC-8-53, crashes in the Atlantic Ocean during a flight from Lisbon, Portugal, to Santa Maria Island in the Azores, killing all 61 people on board. [1]

June 1961

  • June 1 — United Air Lines absorbs Capital Airlines to become the largest airline in the Western world, with a fleet of 267 aircraft. [1]

  • June 12 — KLM Flight 823, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashes on approach to Cairo International Airport in Egypt, killing 20 of the 36 people on board and injuring all 16 survivors. [1]

  • June 21-22 — A Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan makes the first non-stop flight from England to Australia. [1]

  • June 23 — U.S. Air Force Major Robert M. White becomes the first pilot achieve hypersonic - speeds higher than Mach 5 - flight, reaching Mach 5.27 (3,603 mph; 5,802 km/h) in North American X-15 (AF 56-6671). [1]

July 1961

  • July 1 — The Royal Air Force deploys Hawker Hunter combat aircraft to reinforce Kuwait, which is under threat from Iraq. Simultaneously it deploys Canberras and Valiant aircraft to Malta. [1]

  • July 11 — United Airlines Flight 859, a Douglas DC-8, strikes several ground vehicles and catches fire while landing at Stapleton International Airport in Denver, Colorado. Of the 122 people on board, 18 are killed and 84 injured. One person on the ground also dies. [1]

  • July 19 — Trans World Airlines becomes the first airline to show regularly scheduled movies during its flights, presenting By Love Possessed to first-class passengers. [1]

  • July 19 — AerolĂ­neas Argentinas Flight 644, a Douglas DC-6, encounters severe turbulence during climbout 30 minutes after takeoff from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and crashes 12 km (7.5 miles) west of Pardo, Buenos Aires, killing all 67 people on board. [1]

  • July 21 — Alaska Airlines Flight 779, a Douglas DC-6 cargo plane operating under contract to the United States Air Force's Military Air Transport Service, strikes an embankment just before landing at Shemya Air Force Base on Shemya in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and crashes, killing the entire crew of six. [1]

  • July 24 — Deliveries of the McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo to the Royal Canadian Air Force commence. [1]

August 1961

  • August 9 — The British Eagle Vickers 610 Viking 3B Lord Rodney, carrying a crew of three and taking 34 boys from a London school and two of their masters to a camping holiday crashes at Holta in Strand, Norway, killing all 39 people on board. It is the deadliest aviation accident in Norwegian history at the time. [1]

  • August 15 — Beagle Aircraft's first completely original design — the B.206X, an early prototype of the Beagle Basset - flies for the first time. [1]

  • August 21 — A Canadian Pacific Air Lines Douglas DC-8 sets two world records during a single test flight. First, it reaches 50,000 feet (15,240 meters) at a weight of 107,600 pounds (48,807 kg), a new altitude record for a loaded transport jet. Then, in a dive from that altitude, it reaches Mach 1.012 with a true air speed of 662.5 mph (1,066.8 km/h) at an altitude of 39,614 feet (12,074 meters), becoming the first airliner to break the sound barrier. [1]

  • August 28 — In Operation Sageburner, a United States Navy McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II fighter sets a low-altitude speed record, averaging 902.769 mph (1,452.826 km/h) over a 3-mile (4.82-km) course flying below 125 feet (38.1 meters) at all times. [1]

  • August 29 — A French military aircraft clips a cable of the aerial tramway connecting Pointe Helbronner and the Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps. Three cars of the tramway fall, killing five people. The pilot lands his plane safely. [1]

  • August 31 — Chance Vought Incorporated and Ling-Temco Electronics merge to form Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc.. [1]

September 1961

  • September 1 — Trans World Airlines Flight 529, a Lockheed L-049 Constellation, crashes near Hinsdale, Illinois, shortly after takeoff from Midway Airport in Chicago, Illinois, killing all 78 people on board. It is the deadliest single-aircraft aviation accident in American history at the time. [1]

  • September 5 — President of the United States John F. Kennedy signs legislation making aircraft hijacking a federal crime in the United States. [1]

  • September 12 — The Hawker P.1127 makes its first transitions from vertical to horizontal flight and Back. [1]

  • September 12 — Air France Flight 2005, a Sud Aviation Caravelle, crashes 8.4 km (5.2 mi) short of the runway while on approach to land in bad weather at Rabat-Salé Airport in Morocco, killing all 77 people on board. [1]

  • September 14 — Two West German Luftwaffe Republic F-84F Thunderstreak fighters stray off course into East German airspace. Pursued by a large number of Soviet Air Force fighters, the two West German planes manage to evade them in heavy cloud cover and land in West Berlin unharmed. [1]

  • September 17 — Due to a maintenance error, Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 706, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashes on takeoff from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, killing all 37 people on board. [1]

  • September 23 — A Turkish Airlines Fokker F27 Friendship 100 crashes into the hill Karanliktepe in Ankara Province while on approach to Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, killing 28 of the 29 people on board. [1]

October 1961

  • October 7 — The Derby Aviation Douglas Dakota IV (G-AMSW) crashes on Pic de Canigou in the Catalan Pyrenees in southern France, killing all 34 people on board. [1]

November 1961

  • November — The U.S. Air Force begins its Farm Gate counterinsurgency training mission in South Vietnam, teaching South Vietnamese Air Force personnel at Bien Hoa Air Base to fly North American T-28 Trojan trainer aircraft. [1]

  • November 1 — The first Hawker Siddeley 748 to be built in India flies for the first time. It has been assembled at Kanpur by the Indian Air Force's Aircraft Manufacturing Depot as India seeks to replace its fleet of Douglas Dakotas. [1]

  • November 8 — The crew of Imperial Airlines Flight 201/8, a Lockheed L-1049 Constellation chartered by the United States Army to carry new recruits to Columbia, South Carolina, for training, mishandles fuel flow problems to the aircraft's starboard engines, then attempts an emergency landing at Byrd Field in Richmond, Virginia, where it crashes. Although all 79 people on board survive the impact, all but the captain and flight engineer die of carbon monoxide poisoning after they are trapped in the fuselage during a post-crash fire. [1]

  • November 9 — A North American X-15 flown by U.S. Air Force test pilot Major Robert M. White becomes the first airplane to exceed Mach 6, achieving Mach 6.04 (4,094 mph, 6,593 km/h) at an altitude of 102,000 feet (31,090 meters) during a flight of under 8 minutes between Mud Lake, Nevada, and Edwards Air Force Base, California. [1]

  • November 14 — A Zantop Air Transport Douglas DC-4 cargo aircraft on final approach to Greater Cincinnati Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, crashes in a wooded area near the airport. Two of the three-man crew are injured. [1]

  • November 22 — The first aircraft carrier designed as such to be completed in France, Clemenceau, is completed at the Brest Arsenal at Brest. [1]

  • November 22 — In Operation Skyburner, United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. "Bob" Robertson sets a new world absolute speed record for a non-rocket-powered aircraft of 1,606.3 mph (2,585.1 km/h) in a McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II. [1]

  • November 23 — AerolĂ­neas Argentinas Flight 322, a de Havilland DH.106 Comet 4, strikes eucalyptus trees immediately after takeoff from Viracopos-Campinas International Airport in Campinas, Brazil, and crashes. Its fuel tanks explode, and all 52 people on board die. [1]

  • November 25 — The U.S. Navy commissions its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVA(N)-65). [1]

  • November 30 — Ansett-ANA Flight 325, a Vickers Viscount Type 720, crashes into Botany Bay just after takeoff from Sydney, Australia, killing all 15 people on board. [1]

December 1961

  • December 5 — A U.S. Navy McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II sets a sustained altitude record of 66,443.8 feet (20,252.1 meters). [1]

  • December 11 — The first American military aircraft are based in Vietnam, as the U.S. Army's 8th and 57th Transportation Companies (Light Helicopter), arrive at Saigon, South Vietnam. They are equipped with 32 Piasecki H-21C Shawnee transport helicopters. [1]

  • December 22 — U.S. Army helicopters engage in their first combat operation in Vietnam as the 8th Transportation Company makes several airlfits of South Vietnamese ground troops to landing zones in South Vietnam south of Saigon. [1]

  • December 23 — In Operation Chopper, U.S. Army helicopters airlift 1,000 South Vietnamese paratroopers to attack a suspected Viet Cong headquarters in South Vietnam 10 miles (16 km) west of Saigon. [1]

1961 First Flights

  • January 24 — Convair 990. [1]

  • January 26 — Fiat 7002. [1]

  • February 15 — Victa R-2. [1]

  • February 28 — Cessna 336 Skymaster. [1]

  • March 4 — Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosy — Argosy C.1 for RAF. [1]

  • March 18 — Tupolev Tu-28. [1]

  • March 28 — Stewart Headwind. [1]

  • April 5 — Dassault Mirage IIIE. [1]

  • April 16 — Beagle Airedale (G-ARKE). [1]

  • April 21 — North American X-15. [1]

  • April 27 — Legrand-Simon LS.60. [1]

  • April 29 — Potez 840. [1]

  • April 19 — Boeing C-135 Stratolifter. [1]

  • June 1 — Breguet 941. [1]

  • June 17 — HAL Marut. [1]

  • June 21 — Aviation Traders Carvair (G-ANYB). [1]

  • June 22 — Beechcraft Queen Air Model 80. [1]

  • July 11 — Lightning F.2, second production model of the English Electric Lightning. [1]

  • August 15 — Beagle B.206X, five-seat early prototype of the Beagle Basset. [1]

  • August 16 — YUH-1D (Bell Model 205), prototype of the UH-1D Iroquois. [1]

  • August 17 — Handley Page HP.115. [1]

  • September 21 — Boeing CH-47 Chinook. [1]

  • October 12 — Dassault Mirage IV. [1]

  • October 21 — Breguet Atlantic. [1]

  • October 23 — Beech Model 23 Musketeer. [1]

  • November 11 — Lockheed F-104G Super Starfighter. [1]

1961 Aircraft Entering Service

  • February 1 — Vickers Vanguard. [1]

  • June — North American AJ3-1 Vigilante (redesignated A-5 Vigilante in 1962) with United States Navy Heavy Attack Squadron 3 (VAH-3). [1]

  • September — Sikorsky HSS-2 Sea King (redesignated SH-3 Sea King in 1962) with United States Navy Antisubmarine Helicopter Squadrons 3 (HS-3) and 10 (HS-10). [1]

  • October — McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II (redesignated F-4 Phantom II in 1962) with United States Navy Fighter Squadron 74 (VF-74). [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1961 in aviation.

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