1970 Master Index 1972

1971 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

1971 Events

  • 1971 — The Peruvian Army reestablishes Peruvian Army Aviation. [1]

  • 1971 — Assessing the prospects for the development of hypersonic airliners, John Becker and Frank Kirkham of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Langley Research Center project that a 750,000-pound (340,198 kg) hypersonic transport (HST) capable of Mach 6 speeds and carrying 300 passengers from Los Angeles to Paris, France, in 2 hours 42 minutes could be operating by 1995. [1]

January 1971

  • January 6 — The United States Marine Corps takes delivery of its first Hawker Siddeley AV-8A “Harrier Is”. [1]

  • January 22 — Its ice protection system rendered ineffective by a closed valve, an Aeroflot Antonov An-12 crashes on approach to Surgut International Airport in Surgut in the Soviet Union's Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic due to icing, killing all 13 people on board. [1]

  • January 22 — A United States Navy Lockheed P-3 “Orion” sets a distance record for an aircraft in its class of 7,010 miles (11,282 km). [1]

  • January 30 — Two Kashmiri men hijack the Indian Airlines Fokker F27 Friendship Ganga and force it to fly to Lahore, Pakistan. They release their hostages there and burn the plane on February 1. India retaliates by prohibiting overflights of its territory by Pakistani aircraft. [1]

February 1971

  • February 1 — McDonnell Douglas completes the 4,000th McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II”. [1]

  • February 8 — The last major airmobile assault of the Vietnam War, “Operation Lam Son 719”, begins. It involves a ground and helicopter assault by South Vietnamese Army forces against North Vietnamese Army forces in Laos, supported by American helicopters. [1]

March 1971

  • March — The U.S. Marine Corps forms its first attack helicopter squadron. [1]

  • March 2 — The U.S. Marine Corps begins combat testing of the Bell AH-1J “Sea Cobra” in South Vietnam. It is the first attack helicopter specifically designed for use aboard ships. [1]

  • March 17 — Jane Leslie Holley becomes the first woman commissioned into the U.S. Air Force via the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. [1]

  • March 24 — Federal funding for the Boeing SST project is cut by the US Congress. [1]

  • March 26 — The U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) is withdrawn from Vietnam, leaving behind only its 3rd Brigade (Reinforced) at Biên Hòa, South Vietnam. [1]

April 1971

  • April — Using Sikorsky CH-53A “Sea Stallion” helicopters, the U.S. Navy's Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 12 (HM-12) and Mobile Mine Countermeasures Command begin the development of specifications for the U.S. Navy's first air mine countermeasures aircraft. [1]

  • April 9 — The last major airmobile operation of the Vietnam War, “Operation Lam Son 719”, ends after North Vietnamese Army forces drive all South Vietnamese forces out of Laos with heavy casualties. Facing the heaviest antiaircraft artillery fire of the war, American helicopter crews have suffered casualties of 176 killed, 1,942 wounded, and 42 missing, with 107 helicopters destroyed and 600 damaged. The operation has demonstrated a need for the U.S. Army to develop a specialized anti-tank attack helicopter. [1]

  • April 26 — Lieutenant Colonel Thomas B. Estes (pilot) and Major Dewain C. Vick (reconnaissance systems officer) make a record-breaking nonstop flight of 15,000 miles (24,155 km) in a Lockheed SR-71A “Blackbird” of the U.S. Air Force's 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, at times exceeding Mach 3. They will receive the MacKay Trophy for the flight. [1]

May 1971

  • May 20 — Boeing announces that it has canceled its Supersonic Transport (SST) project. [1]

  • May 24 — Flight testing of the Grumman F-14 “Tomcat” resumes after the December 30, 1970, crash of the first prototype. [1]

  • May 28 — World War II hero and movie star Audie Murphy is among six people killed in the crash of a light plane near Catawba, Virginia. [1]

June 1971

  • June — The last U.S. Marine Corps helicopters depart Vietnam. [1]

  • June 6 — Hughes Airwest Flight 706, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31, and a United States Marine Corps McDonnell Douglas F-4B-18-MC “Phantom II” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 (VMFA-323) collide over the San Gabriel Mountains near Duarte, California. Both aircraft crash, killing all 49 people on board the DC-9 and one of the two men in the McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom, II. [1]

  • June 18 — Southwest Airlines is founded. [1]

July 1971

  • July 3 — A NAMC YS-11A-217 operating as Toa Domestic Airlines Flight 533 crashes into the south face of Yokotsu Mountain in Japan, killing all 68 people on board. [1]

  • July 16 — Jeanne M. Holm is promoted to Brigadier General, the first woman in the U.S. Air Force to become a General. [1]

  • July 29 — The U.S. Air Force and U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) complete their joint flight testing of the Martin Marietta X-24A lifting body. The data gathered during the flight-test program will assist in the design of NASA's Space Shuttle. [1]

  • July 30 — A Japanese Air Self-Defense Force North American F-86 “Sabre” collides with a Boeing 727 operating as All Nippon Airways Flight 58 over Morioka, Japan, killing all 162 people aboard the airliner and injuring the North American F-86 “Sabre” pilot. It is the worst air disaster in history at the time. [1]

  • July 30 — Pan American World Airways Flight 845, a Boeing 747-121 with 218 people on board, strikes several approach lighting system structures while taking off from San Francisco International Airport, seriously injuring two passengers and sustaining significant damage. The plane dumps fuel over the Pacific Ocean, returns to the airport 1 hour 42 minutes after takeoff, and makes an emergency landing; the crew then orders an emergency evacuation, during which 27 passengers are injured, eight of them sustaining serious Back injuries. There are no fatalities. [1]

September 1971

  • September — The “Concorde” SST crosses the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. [1]

  • September 4 — Alaska Airlines Flight 1866, a Boeing 727-100, crashes into the eastern slope of a canyon in the Chilkat Range of the Tongass National Forest while on approach to land at Juneau, Alaska, killing all 111 people on board. It is the deadliest single-plane crash in American history at the time, and will remain so until June 1975. [1]

  • September 6 — After the tank for its water-injection engine thrust-augmentation system is mistakenly filled with jet fuel instead of water, both engines of Pan International Flight 112, a BAC 1-11-500, fail after takeoff from Hamburg Airport in Hamburg, West Germany. The flight crew makes an emergency landing on the Bundesautobahn 7 highway; the plane strikes a bridge, shearing off both wings and setting the plane on fire. Twenty-two of the 121 people aboard die and 99 are injured. [1]

  • September 11 — The Britten-Norman “Trislander” makes its first flight. [1]

  • September 13 — Lin Biao, second-in-charge of the People's Republic of China, is killed in the crash of a Hawker Siddeley Trident near Öndörkhaan, Mongolia. [1]

October 1971

  • October — In the Mediterranean, a U.S. Navy air mine countermeasures unit participates in an overseas exercise for the first time. [1]

  • October 1 — Aurigny Air Services commences operations with the Britten-Norman “Trislander”. [1]

November 1971

  • November 10 — After its flight crew radios that it cannot reach its destination due to bad weather, a Merpati Nusantara Airlines Vickers “Viscount” bound for Padang on Sumatra in Indonesia crashes into the Indian Ocean off Padang, killing all 69 people on board. It is the deadliest aviation accident in Indonesian history at the time. [1]

  • November 24 — A man identifying himself as “Dan Cooper” uses a bomb threat to hijack Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305, a Boeing 727 with 36 other passengers and a crew of six on board. during a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, demanding US$200,000 and four parachutes. Receiving the money and parachutes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he allows all passengers and two flight attendants to leave the plane, then orders it flown toward Mexico City; soon after takeoff, he parachutes from the plane with his money and is never seen or heard from again or positively identified. The press mistakenly identifies “Dan Cooper” as “D. B. Cooper”, the name of another individual questioned in the case, and he goes down in history as “D. B. Cooper”. [1]

December 1971

  • December — The U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) begins to withdraw from Vietnam. [1]

  • December 3 — The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 begins with a Pakistani Air Force attempt at a preemptive strike against Indian Air Force bases, employing no more than 50 aircraft. The strike initially attacks the wrong bases, then mostly misses Indian aircraft when attacking the right bases, and Indian bases are out of action for only a few hours. The Pakistani Air Force then falls into a defensive role for the remainder of the war. [1]

  • December 9-10 (overnight) — Helicopters airlift the Indian Army's 311th Mountain Brigade Group over the Meghna River in East Pakistan, allowing Indian forces to maintain the momentum of their drive on Dacca. [1]

  • December 10 — President Richard M. Nixon warns North Vietnam that American bombing of North Vietnam would resume if North Vietnamese military action against South Vietnam increases as American forces are withdrawn from Vietnam. [1]

  • December 11 — The Indian Army's 2nd Parachute Brigade parachutes from Indian Air Force Antonov An-12s, de Havilland Canada DHC-4 “Caribous”, Fairchild C-82 “Packets”, and Douglas C-47 “Dakotas” north of Tangail, East Pakistan, prompting a disorganized retreat by the Pakistani Army's 93rd Brigade. [1]

  • December 17 — The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 comes to an end. The Indian Air Force has lost 72 aircraft and the Pakistani Air Force 94 aircraft. [1]

  • December 24 — Flying in a thunderstorm and severe turbulence, LANSA Flight 508, a Lockheed L-188A “Electra”, is struck by lightning and disintegrates in mid-air high over Puerto Inca in eastern Peru's Amazon rain forest, killing 91 of the 92 people aboard. The only survivor is 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke, who survives a 2-mile (3 km) fall into the rain forest strapped in her seat, her fall cushioned by the foliage, and walks for 10 days before finding help; 14 other people also survive their falls from the plane but die in the jungle without being rescued. [1]

  • December 26-30 — The United States conducts “Operation Proud Deep Alpha”, which consists of air strikes in three provinces of North Vietnam south of the 20th Parallel. [1]

1971 Aircraft First Flights

  • January 20 — Grumman E-2C “Hawkeye”. [1]

  • February 26 — Saab-MFI 15. [1]

  • March — >AEREON 26. [1]

  • March 15 — VFW-Fokker H3 “Sprinter” (D-9543). [1]

  • March 21 — Westland “Lynx” (XW835). [1]

  • March 25 — Ilyushin Il-76 (SSSR-86712). [1]

  • March 26 — CASA C.212 “Aviocar”. [1]

  • March 31 — Kaman SH-2D “Sea Sprite”. [1]

  • April 22 — Aero “Boero” (AB-210). [1]

  • April 29 — Piper PA-48 “Enforcer”. [1]

  • May 28 — Dassault “Mercure” (F-WTCC). [1]

  • July 14 — VFW-614 (D-BABA). [1]

  • July 20 — Mitsubishi T-2. [1]

  • July 23 — GAF “Nomad” (VH-SUP). [1]

  • July 30 — Robin HR200. [1]

  • August 4 — Agusta A109. [1]

  • September 3 — Embraer “Xavante”. [1]

  • September 10 — Bell 309 “KingCobra” (N309J). [1]

  • September 11 — Britten-Norman (Trislander). [1]

  • September 12 — Bede BD-5 (N500BD). [1]

  • September 20 — VFW “VAK” 191B. [1]

  • September 30 — Avro “Shackelton AEW2” (WL745). [1]

  • October 21 — Italair F.20 “Pegaso” (I-GEAV). [1]

  • December — Aerosport “Quail” (N88760). [1]

1971 Aircraft Entering Service

  • 1971 — Agusta-Bell AB.212. [1]

  • January 20 — McDonnell Douglas RF-4E “Phantom II” with Luftwaffe. [1]

  • January 29 — Grumman EA-6 “Prowler” with VAQ-129 at NAS Whidbey Island. [1]

  • April 1 — Hawker Siddeley “Trident 3B” with British European Airways. [1]

  • April 15 — Hawker Siddeley AV-8A “Harrier I ” with VMA-513 of the United States Marine Corps. [1]

  • May 3 — Bell CH-135 with the Canadian Armed Forces. [1]

  • August 5 — McDonnell Douglas DC-10 with American Airlines. [1]

  • October — Beechcraft A100 “King Air”. [1]

  • October 1 — Britten-Norman “Trislander” with Aurigny Air Services. [1]

  • December — Bell CH-136 (ex-COH-58A) with the Canadian Armed Forces. [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1971 in Aviation

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