1968/font> Master Index 1970

1969 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

1969 events

  • 1969 — The Canadian Snowbirds aerobatic team is formed. [1]

  • 1969 — A fifth annual Harmon Trophy is created to honor the world's outstanding astronaut of the year and is awarded for the first time, honoring the outstanding astronauts of 1968. [1]

January 1969

  • January 5 — The flight crew of Ariana Afghan Airlines Flight 701, a Boeing 727-113C, fails to extend the airliner's flaps while on approach to London Gatwick Airport in heavy fog. The plane crashes short of the runway, striking a house in Horley, Surrey, England, killing 48 of the 62 people on board and two people on the ground. All 14 survivors are injured, as is one person on the ground. [1]

  • January 13 — With its cockpit crew so occupied with attempting to diagnose the lack of a nose gear green light that they inadvertently allow its rate of descent to increase while on approach to Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, the Scandinavian Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62 Sverre Viking, operating as Flight 933 with 45 people on board, crashes in Santa Monica Bay 6 miles (11 km) short of the runway and breaks into three pieces, two of which sink immediately. Fifteen people die, and 17 of the 30 survivors are injured. [1]

  • January 14 — The United States Navy announces that the Grumman F-14 Tomcat has won the competition for a new long-range fleet air defense fighter. [1]

  • January 14 — Off Hawaii, a MK-32 Zuni rocket loaded on a parked McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) explodes after being overheated by an aircraft start unit mounted to a tow tractor. The explosion sets off fires and additional explosions across the flight deck, killing 27 and injuring 314 men and knocking the ship out of action until 1 March. [1]

  • January 18 — United Airlines Flight 266, a Boeing 727-22C, crashes into Santa Monica Bay off the coast of California four minutes after takeoff from Los Angeles International Airport. All 38 people on board die. [1]

  • January 22 — The U.S. 9th Marine Regiment begins Operation Dewey Canyon - an operation dependent completely on helicopters - in South Vietnam's Da Krong Valley. It will conclude on March 19, rated as the 9th Marines' most successful operation of the Vietnam War. [1]

February 1969

  • February 18 — Four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine attack El Al Flight 432, a Boeing 720-058B with 28 people on board, with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades while it is preparing for takeoff at Zurich Airport in Zurich, Switzerland, mortally wounding the first officer and injuring six other people. An Israeli undercover security guard on the plane opens fire on the attackers from a cockpit window, then gets off the plane and continues to fire on them, killing their leader before Swiss police arrive and arrest him and the three surviving attackers. The incident reveals for the first time that armed security personnel ride aboard Israeli airliners. [1]

  • February 18 — Hawthorne Nevada Airlines Flight 708, a Douglas DC-3, crashes into a sheer cliff face on Mount Whitney near Lone Pine, California, killing all 35 people on board. The plane's wreckage will not be found until August 8. [1]

  • February 24 — Far Eastern Air Transport Flight 104, a Handley Page Dart Herald, suffers the failure of an engine and attempts to make an emergency landing at Tainan Airport in Tainan City on Taiwan. Before reaching the airport, the plane belly-lands in a clearing in a wooded area, skids into a creek, breaks into three pieces, and catches fire, killing all 36 people on board. [1]

March 1969

  • March 1 — The Republic-of-China-government-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), is established in Taiwan. [1]

  • March 1 — The U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) begins Operation Massachusetts Striker, a helicopter-borne assault against North Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam's A Shau Valley. It will continue until May 8. [1]

  • March 3 — The United States Navy establishes its Fighter Weapons School at Naval Air Station Miramar, California, to improve its fighter pilots' dogfighting skills. The school will become popularly known as "TOPGUN.". [1]

  • March 8 — President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser formally announces the beginning of the War of Attrition with Israel, although the war in reality has been in progress since July 1, 1967. It largely will consist of combat between Israeli Air Force aircraft and Egyptian surface-to-air missiles. [1]

  • March 16 — Viasa Flight 742, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30, is unable to gain altitude after takeoff from Maracaibo, Venezuela, strikes power lines, and crashes into the La Trinidad section of the city, killing all 84 people on board and 71 people on the ground. San Francisco Giants pitcher Néstor Chávez is among the dead. The combined death toll of 155 makes it the deadliest aviation accident in history at the time. [1]

  • March 18 — In Operation Breakfast, 48 U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses bomb the Fishhook in Cambodia in an attack on what the Americans believe to be the general Communist headquarters within Cambodia. It is the first event in Operation Menu, the secret 14-month-long American bombing of Cambodia targeting North Vietnamese Army sanctuaries there. [1]

  • March 18-19 — The Royal Air Force airlifts 300 troops to Anguilla in response to the civil unrest that had broken out on the island. [1]

April 1969

  • April 2 — LOT Polish Airlines Flight 165, an Antonov An-24W, crashes during a snowstorm on the northern slope of Polica mountain near Zawoja, Poland, killing all 53 people on board. [1]

  • April 15 — A North Korean Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 Fresco shoots down a U.S. Air Force Lockheed EC-121M Warning Star reconnaissance aircraft over the Sea of Japan, killing all 31 men on board. [1]

  • April 27 — President of Bolivia René Barrientos dies in a helicopter crash in the canyon of the Arque River in Bolivia. [1]

  • April 28 — Concentrating excessively on their flight director instrument and using it incorrectly, the flight crew of LAN Chile Flight 160, a Boeing 727, neglects to check its instruments and fails to notice that the aircraft has descended below its intended glide path. The aircraft strikes the ground near Colina, Chile, and is destroyed in the crash that follows, although all 60 people on board survive. [1]

May 1969

  • May 4-11 — The Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race commemorates the 50th anniversary of Alcock and Brown's crossing. It is won by a Royal Navy McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, taking 4 hours 47 minutes. [1]

  • May 10 — The United States Army's 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), the U.S. 9th Marine Regiment, and the South Vietnamese Army's 3rd Regiment begin Operation Apache Snow in South Vietnam's A Shau Valley with a helicopter assault on North Vietnamese forces. It will lead to the Battle of Hamburger Hill. [1]

  • May 26 — The U.S. Army cancels the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne attack helicopter program, worth $US 900 million. [1]

June 1969

  • June 4 — Mexicana Flight 704, a Boeing 727-64, crashes on approach to Monterrey, Mexico, killing all 79 people on board. Among the dead is Mexican tennis star Rafael Osuna. [1]

  • June 5 — The American bombing of North Vietnam resumes after a seven-month pause. [1]

  • June 5 — The U.S. Air Force's one-of-a-kind Boeing RC-135E Rivet Amber reconnaissance aircraft crashes in the Bering Sea, killing all 19 men on board. [1]

  • June 17 — Black Panther Party member William Lee Brent hijacks Trans World Airlines Flight 154 and forces it to take him to Havana, Cuba. He will reside in Cuba until his death in 2006. [1]

July 1969

  • July — The Royal Air Force's No. 1 Squadron becomes the first operational fixed-wing vertical-take-off-or-landing (VTOL) squadron in the world. [1]

  • July — Prince Souvanna Phouma of Laos announces that he had authorized American bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. [1]

  • July 1 — The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation becomes the Grumman Aerospace Corporation. [1]

  • July 17 — The last air-to-air combat between piston-engine fighters takes place, when Honduran Air Force Colonel Fernando Soto, flying an Vought F4U-5 Corsair fighter, shoots down three Salvadoran Air Force fighters - two Goodyear FG-1 Corsairs and an North American F-51 Mustang - during the Football War (or "Soccer War") between El Salvador and Honduras. Soto becomes the only person to score an air-to-air kill during the war, the only person to score three air-to-air kills during a war in the Western Hemisphere, and the last person to score a kill in combat between two propeller-driven aircraft. [1]

  • July 20 — Neil Armstrong is the first man to walk on the moon. [1]

August 1969

  • August 15 — Operation About Face begins in Laos. Air America helicopters airlift Meo and Thai guerrillas led by Vang Pao behind enemy positions while the Royal Lao Army pushes across the Plain of Jars. Heavy American air support peaks at 300 sorties per day. [1]

  • August 16 — Darryl Greenamyer sets a new piston-engine airspeed record in a heavily modified Grumman F8F Bearcat named Conquest I. His record speed of 478 mph (769 km/h) topples the piston-engine speed record set by Nazi Germany, that had stood for 30 years. [1]

  • August 29 — Thinking that Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yitzak Rabin is aboard, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Leila Khaled and Salim Issawi, hijack Trans World Airlines Flight 840, a Boeing 707-331B on a flight from Rome, Italy, to Tel Aviv, Israel, with 127 people aboard. Rabin is not aboard, and the hijackers force the plane to land in Damascus, Syria, where they release all the hostages unharmed except for two Israeli passengers and blow up the aircraft's nose section. The two Israelis eventually will be set free unharmed in December. [1]

  • August 31 — World champion boxer Rocky Marciano dies when the privately owned Cessna 172 in which he is a passenger strikes a tree and crashes while its inexperienced pilot is attempting to land at night in bad weather at a small airfield outside Newton, Iowa. [1]

September 1969

  • September 9 — Allegheny Airlines Flight 853, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30, collides in mid-air with a Piper PA-28 near Fairland, Indiana. Both aircraft crash, killing the lone occupant of the Piper PA-28 and all 82 people aboard the McDonnell Douglas DC-9. [1]

  • September 12 — Philippine Airlines Flight 158, a BAC One-Eleven, strikes a mango tree in Kula-ike in Antipolo City while on approach to Manila International Airport in Manila, the Philippines. It crashes, killing 45 of the 47 people on board and injuring both survivors. It will be the deadliest accident involving a BAC One-Eleven until 2002. [1]

  • September 21 — The Mexicana Boeing 727-64 (XA-SEJ) strikes the ground short of the runway on final approach to Mexico City International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, becomes airborne again, then crashes on a railway embankment, killing 27 of the 118 people on board. [1]

October 1969

  • October 20 — Finnair introduces an inertial navigation system on its aircraft, becoming the first airline to dispense with the need for a navigator aboard. [1]

November 1969

  • November 12 — Fiat Aviazione (except for its engine manufacturing section) merges with Aerfer and Salmoiraghi to form Aeritalia, owned equally by Fiat and IRI-Finmeccanica. Aeritalia will becoming fully operational in January 1972. [1]

  • November 19 — Mohawk Airlines Flight 411, a Fairchild Hiller FH-227B, crashes into Pilot Knob Mountain near the Town of Fort Ann in Washington County, New York, killing all 14 people on board. [1]

December 1969

  • December 2 — An explosion in the lavatory of an Air Vietnam flight damages the braking system in mid-flight. When the aircraft lands near Nha Trang, South Vietnam, it goes off the end of the runway and strikes a school, killing 32 people and injuring many more. [1]

  • December 9 — An Egyptian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbed shoots down an Israeli Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II for the first time. [1]

  • December 11 — A North Korean agent hijacks a Korean Air Lines NAMC YS-11 with 50 other people on board and forces it to fly to Sondok Airfield near Wonsan, North Korea. North Korea returns 39 of the passengers to South Korea 66 days later, but never returns the crew of four or the other seven passengers, which is viewed in South Korea as an example of North Korean abductions of South Koreans. [1]

  • December 18 — The England-Australia Commemorative Air Race is flown in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Smith brothers' flight. It is won by W. J. Bright and F. L. Buxton in a Britten-Norman Islander. [1]

  • December 20 — The highest-scoring North Vietnamese ace of the Vietnam War, Nguyễn Văn Cốc, scores his final victory, claimed as over a Ryan AQM-34 Firebee unmanned aerial vehicle but possibly over an North American OV-10 Bronco. The North Vietnamese Air Force credits him with nine victories, while the United States confirms seven. [1]

1969 Aircraft First Flights

  • February 9 — Boeing 747. [1]

  • February 12 — Mil Mi V-12. [1]

  • March — Aero Boero AB-115. [1]

  • March 2 — BAC-Aérospatiale Concorde. [1]

  • March 17 — Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama. [1]

  • April — Bell UH-1N Iroquois "Twin Huey". [1]

  • April 24 — Anderson Kingfisher. [1]

  • May 19 — Beagle B.125 Bulldog. [1]

  • June — Beechcraft Baron Model 58. [1]

  • June 27 — Interceptor 400. [1]

  • August 30 — Tupolev Tu-22M. [1]

  • September — Antonov An-14M, prototype of the Antonov An-28 ("Cash"). [1]

  • September 15 — Cessna FanJet500, the prototype which led to the Cessna Citation. [1]

  • September 19 — Mil Mi-24, the most widely exported helicopter gunship. [1]

1969 Aircraft Entering Service

  • Mid-1969 — Beriev Be-30 (NATO reporting name "Cuff") with Aeroflot. [1]

  • March — Fokker F.28 Fellowship with Braathens SAFE. [1]

  • May 23 — Bell OH-58 Kiowa with United States Army. [1]

  • August — Beechcraft King Air Model 100. [1]

  • October 2 — Hawker-Siddeley Nimrod. [1]

1969 Aircraft Retirements

  • 1969 — Northrop F-89 Scorpion by the United States Air National Guard. [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1969 in Aviation.
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