1971 Master Index 1973

1972 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

1972 Events

  • 1972 — Early in the year, the United States introduces the Martin Marietta AGM-62 “Walleye II” optically guided glide bomb into service, employing it in the Vietnam War. It becomes known as the “Fat Albert.”. [1]

January 1972

  • January — The last elements of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) are withdrawn from Vietnam. [1]

  • January — The Aeritalia company, formed in November 1969, becomes fully operational. [1]

  • January 5 — President Richard M. Nixon announces $US 5.5 billion in funding for the Space Shuttle program. [1]

  • January 12 — Billy Gene Hurst, Jr., hijacks Braniff Flight 38, a Boeing 727 with 102 other people on board, during a flight from Houston to Dallas. After arrival at Love Field in Dallas, he releases the other 94 passengers but holds all seven crew members hostage, demanding to be flown to South America during a standoff with police. Eventually, the entire crew escapes, and police storm the airliner and arrest him. [1]

  • January 19 — Flying a United States Navy McDonnell Douglas F-4J “Phantom II” fighter of Fighter Squadron 96 (VF-96) off of USS Constellation, Lieutenants Randy “Duke” Cunningham (pilot) and William “Irish” Driscoll (radar intercept officer) shoot down a North Vietnamese Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG fighter. It is the first air-to-air victory by an American aircraft over Vietnam since March 1970. [1]

  • January 20 — Two months after the celebrated hijacking by D.B. Cooper of Northwest Orient flight 305, Hughes Airwest flight 800 was the target of a copycat hijacker. After boarding at McCarran airport in Las Vegas, 23-year old Richard Charles La Point claimed he had a bomb while the plane was on the taxiway and demanded $50,000 cash, two parachutes, and a helmet. When these demands were met, 51 Reno-bound passengers and two flight attendants were released and the DC-9 departed eastward toward Denver, followed by two General Dynamics F-111 “Aardvarks” of the U.S. Air Force. The parachutes were high-visibility and equipped with emergency locator devices. Without a coat and in cowboy boots, the hijacker baled out from the lower aft door over the treeless plains of northeastern Colorado in mid-afternoon. He was apprehended a few hours later, with minor injuries and very cold. The plane, with two pilots and a flight attendant on board, landed safely at Denver's Stapleton airport at 2:55 pm MST. Facing potential death penalty charges for air piracy, he was sentenced to forty years, but served less than eight and was released from a halfway house in 1979. [1]

  • January 23 — The United States suspects that Soviet Isaev SA-3 “Goa” surface-to-air missiles have become operational in North Vietnam. [1]

  • January 26 — JAT Yugoslav Airlines Flight 367, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, explodes in flight at 33,330 feet (10,160 m), breaks into two pieces, and crashes near Srbská Kamenice, Czechoslovakia, killing 27 of the 28 people on board. Flight attendant Vesna Vulovic survives the crash, setting a record which still stands for surviving the longest fall without a parachute. [1]

  • January 27 — Civil aviation in Canada is halted by a strike by air traffic controllers. [1]

  • January 29 — Gary B. Trapnell hijacks a Trans World Airlines airliner during a flight from Los Angeles, to New York City and demands US$306,000, the release from prison of militant Angela Davis, and a conversation with President Richard Nixon. A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent shoots and disarms him, and he is imprisoned. In separate incidents in 1978, his wife Barbara Ann Oswald will die in an attempt to free him using a hijacked helicopter and his daughter Robin Oswald will hijack another airliner in a failed attempt to get him released. [1]

February 1972

  • February — Off the coast of Maine, a U.S. Navy air mine countermeasures unit participates in an amphibious warfare exercise for the first time. [1]

  • February 5 — Aeroflot and Lufthansa jointly open services between Moscow and Frankfurt-am-Main. [1]

  • February 5 — NASA and de Havilland Canada extensively modify a C-8 “Buffalo” for STOL experiments. [1]

  • February 22 — Lufthansa Flight 649, a Boeing 747-200 from Tokyo to Frankfurt, is hijacked during the Delhi-Athens leg and forced to divert to Aden, where all 182 passengers and crew are released on the next day in exchange for a $5 million ransom. [1]

March 1972

  • March 2 — The American space craft Pioneer 10 is launched. [1]

  • March 3 — Mohawk Airlines Flight 405, a Fairchild Hiller FH-227, crashes into a house while on final approach to Albany County Airport (later Albany International Airport) in Albany, New York, killing 16 of the 48 people on the plane and injuring all but one of the 32 survivors. The crash also kills one person and injures three people on the ground. [1]

  • March 9 — American aircraft record their 100th protective reaction strike of the Vietnam War against enemy surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft artillery sites. [1]

  • March 14 — Sterling Airways Flight 296, a Sud Aviation “Caravelle”, crashes into a mountain ridge near Kalba in the United Arab Emirates, killing all 112 people on board. It remains the deadliest aviation accident in the history of the United Arab Emirates. [1]

  • March 19 — EgyptAir Flight 763, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, crashes into Jebel Shamsan, the highest peak of Aden Crater, an extinct volcano in the Shamsan Mountains, while on approach to land at Aden International Airport in Aden, South Yemen, killing all 30 people on board. It remains the deadliest civil aviation accident in the history of Yemen. [1]

  • Late March — The commander-in-chief of the Soviet Air Force visits North Vietnam, apparently leading to improved North Vietnamese air defense tactics that will be observed between April and September. [1]

  • March 31 — In response to the North Vietnamese “Easter Offensive” against South Vietnam which began on March 30, the United States begins a series of deployments code-named “Constant Guard” in which a large number of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps squadrons return to bases in South Vietnam and Thailand and the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier presence at Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin increases from two on March 30 to six by late spring. [1]


  • April — The Soviet SA-7 “Grail" surface-to-air missile appears in North Vietnam. It soon also will appear in South Vietnam. [1]

  • April 1 — BOAC and BEA merge to create British Airways. [1]

  • April 7 — American aircraft resume regular bombing of North Vietnam in response to the North Vietnamese “Easter Offensive” invasion of South Vietnam. [1]

  • April 16 — President Richard Nixon's administration lifts most restrictions on bombing North Vietnam, and U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 “Stratofortresses” bomb targets near Haiphong for the first time since 1968. [1]

  • April 17 — The Soviet Union claims that American airstrikes have damaged four of its merchant ships in Haiphong Harbor. [1]

  • April 19 — North Vietnamese Air Force aircraft bomb U.S. Navy ships at sea, the only such attack during the Vietnam War. Two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 “Frescos” cause minor damage to the guided-missile light cruiser USS Oklahoma City and heavy damage to the destroyer USS Higbee. [1]

  • April 24 — Two Bell UH-1B “Iroquois” attack helicopters arrive at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam, becoming the first helicopters equipped with the TOW antitank missile to enter combat. [1]

  • April 25 — Hans-Werner Grosse sets a new sailplane distance record of 1,460 km (910 mi) in a Schleicher ASW 12. [1]

  • April 27 — Four United States Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom IIs" finally destroy the Thanh Hóa Railroad and Highway Bridge in North Vietnam with laser-guided bombs. The bridge had withstood 873 American sorties against it since April 1965. [1]

  • April 29 — A Soviet “Strela 2” (NATO reporting name “SA-7 Grail”) surface-to-air missile shoots down an aircraft for the first time in the Vietnam War. [1]

May 1972

  • May 5 — Alitalia Flight 112, a Douglas DC-8-43, crashes into Mount Longa, about 5 km (3 mi) southwest of Palermo, Sicily, while on approach to Palermo, killing all 115 people on board. It remains the single deadliest aircraft accident in Italy's history. [1]

  • May 8 — U.S. Navy attack aircraft from the attack aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea begin to lay naval mines in major North Vietnamese ports. [1]

  • May 8 — Four members of Black September hijack Sabena Flight 571, a Boeing 707 with 86 other people on board flying from Vienna, Austria, to Tel Aviv, Israel. After the plane arrives as scheduled at Lod Airport in Lod, Israel, the hijackers threaten to blow up the plane if Israel does not release 315 Palestinians from prison. The next day, 16 Israeli Sayeret Matkal commandos led by Ehud Barak and including Benjamin Netanyahu, storm the plane in Operation Isotope, killing two hijackers and capturing the other two; Netanyahu and three passengers are wounded and one of the wounded passengers later dies of her wounds. [1]

  • May 9 — In “Operation Pocket Money”, U.S. Navy Grumman A-6 “Intruder” and LTV A-7 “Corsair II” bombers from three aircraft carriers lay naval mines in the harbors at Haiphong and six other North Vietnamese ports. [1]

  • May 10 — The single biggest day of aerial combat of the Vietnam War takes place. U.S. Air Force aircraft shoot down three North Vietnamese fighters and U.S. Navy McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” fighters shoot down eight more. Flying a U.S. Navy McDonnell Douglas F-4J “Phantom II” of Fighter Squadron 96 (VF-96) off of USS Constellation, Lieutenants Randy “Duke” Cunningham (pilot) and William “Irish” Driscoll (radar intercept officer) shoot down three Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 “Fresco” fighters, becoming first American aces, and the U.S. Navy's only aces, of the Vietnam War. They receive the Navy Cross for heroism during the flight. [1]

  • May 10-11 — McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom IIs” of the U.S. Air Force's 8th Tactical Fighter Wing hit the Paul Doumer Bridge in Hanoi, North Vietnam, with precision-guided munitions, closing it to traffic. [1]

  • May 12 — A Soviet SA-7 “Grail” surface-to-air missiles shoot down five American Bell AH-1 “Cobra” attack helicopters in five minutes near An Lệc, South Vietnam. [1]

  • May 14 — Two American Bell UH-1B “Iroquois ” attack helicopters using TOW missiles blunt a major North Vietnamese attack near Kon Tum, South Vietnam. [1]

  • May 18 — Eastern Air Lines Flight 346, a Douglas DC-9, crashes on landing at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, Florida, and catches fire. No one is killed, but all 10 people on board are injured. [1]

  • May 19 — U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy aircraft begin “Operation LineBacker”, a campaign of airstrikes on North Vietnam targeting the transportation of supplies in support of the North Vietnamese “Easter Offensive” invasion of South Vietnam. [1]

  • May 26 — The United States and Soviet Union sign the SALT-1 strategic arms limitation treaty. [1]

  • May 26 — Cessna builds its 100,000th aircraft, the first company in the world to achieve this figure. [1]

  • May 26 — Two American Bell UH-1B “Iroquois” attack helicopters use TOW antitank missiles to destroy 12 North Vietnamese tanks outside Kon Tum, South Vietnam, allowing South Vietnamese forces to counterattack and secure the city. [1]

  • May 30 — Acting on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, three members of the Japanese Red Army attack passengers at Lod Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, with assault rifles and hand grenades, killing 26 people and injuring 80. Among the dead is Professor Aharon Katzir, an internationally renowned protein biophysicist and the brother of future President of Israel Ephraim Katzir. Two of the attackers are killed and the third, Kozo Okamoto, is wounded and arrested. [1]

  • May 30 — Delta Air Lines Flight 9570, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-14 on a training flight with no passengers on board, crashes during a landing approach at Greater Southwest International Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, killing all four people - three pilots and a Federal Aviation Administration inspector - aboard. The crash is blamed on wake turbulence from a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 airliner that had preceded the McDonnell Douglas DC-9, resulting in increased minimum distances being required for aircraft following heavy aircraft. [1]

June 1972

  • June — Aircraft carrier trials of the U.S. Navy's Grumman F-14 “Tomcat” fighter begin aboard the attack aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. [1]

  • June — North Vietnam begins to use balloons with explosive charges. [1]

  • June 2 — U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4E “Phantom II” pilot Phil “Hands” Handley scores the first and thus far only supersonic gun kill in history while engaging a pair of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 “Farmer” fighters over North Vietnam in support of a rescue operation to save McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” crewman Roger Locher, downed northeast of Hanoi 23 days earlier. [1]

  • June 2 — To protest American involvement in the Vietnam War and hoping to free Angela Davis from prison and transport her to political asylum in North Vietnam, Willie Roger Holder and his girlfriend, Catherine Marie Kerkow, hijack Western Airlines Flight 701, a Boeing 720B, as it approaches Seattle near the end of a flight from Los Angeles, claiming to have a bomb in an attaché case. They demand a ransom of US$500,000. After allowing all 97 passengers to get off in San Francisco, they fly to Algiers in Algeria, where they are granted political asylum. Later, $488,000 of the ransom money is returned to American officials. [1]

  • June 11 — U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 “Stratofortresses” destroy a major hydroelectric plant near Hanoi, North Vietnam, using laser-guided bombs. [1]

  • June 12 — The “Windsor Incident” occurs when American Airlines Flight 96, a Douglas DC-10-10, suffers an in-flight door failure at 11,750 feet (3,581 m) over Windsor, Ontario, Canada, resulting in cabin depressurization and several minor injuries to passengers. Despite corrective measures to improve the door-locking mechanism, a similar failure aboard another McDonnell Douglas DC-10 will cause the disastrous crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 981. [1]

  • June 14 — Japan Airlines Flight 471, a Douglas DC-8-53, crashes on approach to Palam International Airport, in New Delhi, India, killing 82 of the 87 people on board, including Brazilian actress Leila Diniz. Three people on the ground also die. [1]

  • June 15 — A bomb explodes aboard Cathay Pacific Flight 700Z, a Convair CV-880-22M-21 flying at 29.000 feet (8,839 m) over Pleiku, South Vietnam. The aircraft disintegrates and crashes, killing all 81 people on board. No one ever is convicted of the bombing. [1]

  • June 18 — In the “Staines Disaster”, British European Airways Flight 548, a Hawker Siddeley “Trident 1C”, crashes at Staines-upon-Thames, England, less than three minutes after takeoff from London Heathrow Airport, killing all 118 people on board. It will be the deadliest aviation incident in the United Kingdom until December 1988. [1]

  • June 20 — Airline pilots hold a worldwide strike, calling for tighter security. [1]

  • June 21 — Jean Boulet pilots an Aérospatiale Lama to a new record altitude for helicopters that remains today, 12,440 m (40,814 ft). [1]

  • June 24 — Prinair Flight 191, a de Havilland DH.114 “Heron 2B”, crashes while attempting to land at Mercedita Airport in Ponce, Puerto Rico, killing five of the 20 people on board and injuring all 15 survivors. [1]

  • June 29 — After a North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile cripples his North American OV-10 “Bronco” and renders his observer's parachute unusable, U.S. Air Force Captain Steven L. Bennett remains aboard the North American OV-10 “Bronco” and ditches it the Gulf of Tonkin in order to save his observer. Bennett dies, but the observer survives. Bennett will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions. [1]

  • June 29 — North Central Airlines Flight 290, a Convair CV-580 with five people on board, and Air Wisconsin Flight 671, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 “Twin Otter” carrying eight people, collide over Wisconsin's Lake Winnebago. Both aircraft crash into the lake, killing all 13 people aboard. [1]

  • June 30 — The American 1972 bombing campaign against North Vietnam has destroyed 106 bridges, all of the country's oil depots, and the pipeline running south to the Demilitarized Zone. [1]

July 1972

  • July — The U.S. Navy Grumman EA-6B “Prowler” electronic warfare aircraft makes its combat debut, going into action over Vietnam from aircraft carriers. [1]

  • July 22 — American aircraft operating over Vietnam first note the slow-moving, black “Fat Black” surface-to-air missile. [1]

  • July 26 — The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announces Rockwell International as prime contractor for the Space Shuttle Orbiter. [1]

  • July 31 — George Wright and four other members of the Black Liberation Army accompanied by three children hijack Delta Air Lines Flight 841, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 with 93 other people on board, during a flight from Detroit to Miami. After releasing the other 86 passengers at Miami International Airport and receiving a US$1,000,000 ransom, they force the plane to fly to Boston, and then on to Houari Boumediene Airport, in Algiers, Algeria, where Algerian authorities seize them on August 2. The unharmed seven-person crew then flies the plane Back to the United States. [1]

August 1972

  • August — The last element of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), the 3rd Brigade (Reinforced), is withdrawn from Vietnam. [1]

  • August 1 — Delta Air Lines absorbs Northeast Airlines. [1]

  • August 11 — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) signs a development contract for the MRCA (Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) program, which will eventually result in the Panavia “Tornado”. [1]

  • August 14 — An Interflug Ilyushin Il-62 on a charter flight crashes near Königs Wusterhausen in Brandenburg, East Germany, shortly after takeoff from Berlin-Schönefeld Airport in Schönefeld, East Germany, after a fire in the after portion of the plane causes the tail section to break off in flight. All 156 people on board die in the deadliest aviation accident of 1972 as well as the deadliest in the history of East Germany. It also remains the deadliest air disaster in the history of Germany as a whole. [1]

  • August 15 — The U.S. Air Force completes “Operation Saklolo”, an airlift to Luzon for the relief of flood victims in the Philippines. Since the operation began on July 21, the Air Force has delivered 2,000 short tons (1,814 metric tons) of supplies and transported 1,500 passengers. [1]

  • August 16 — A Burma Airways Douglas C-47B-20-DK crashes into the Bay of Bengal during its initial climb out of Thandwe Airport in Thandwe, Burma, killing 28 of the 31 people on board and injuring all three survivors. It is the first fatal accident involving Burma Airways. [1]

  • August 16 — Two Royal Moroccan Air Force fighters attempt to shoot down the plane of King Hassan II of Morocco in a coup attempt by Minister of the Interior General Mohammed Oufkir. They miss, and the coup fails. [1]

  • August 16 — A bomb hidden in a record player given to two unsuspecting British passengers partially explodes in the luggage compartment of an El Al flight. The plane lands in Rome, Italy. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command will be linked to the attack. [1]

  • August 28 — Piloting an McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” with Captain Charles B. DeBellevue as his weapon systems officer, Captain Richard S. “Steve” Ritchie becomes the second American ace, and first United States Air Force ace, of the Vietnam War by shooting down his fifth Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”. [1]

  • August 28 — Prince William of Gloucester is killed in the crash of a Piper “Cherokee” Arrow during the Gordonwood Trophy race. [1]

September 1972

  • September — North Vietnamese overland supply routes from the People's Republic of China come under American air attack in “Operation Prime Choke”. [1]

  • September 9 — A U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4D “Phantom II” crewed by Captain John A. Madden, Jr., pilot, and Captain Charles B. DeBellevue, weapon systems officer, shoots down two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 “Farmers” over North Vietnam. They are Madden's first two kills and DeBelleuve's fifth and sixth. DeBellevue's six kills will make him the highest-scoring American ace of the Vietnam War. [1]

  • September 11 — The new North Vietnamese “Fat Black” surface-to-air missile makes its first kill, shooting down a U.S. Marine Corps McDonnell Douglas F-4J “Phantom II” fighter. [1]

  • September 11 — Flying a U.S. Marine Corps McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” fighter, Major Lee T. Lasseter (pilot) and Captain John D. Cummings (radar intercept officer) of Marine Fighter Squadron 333 (VMF-333) operating from the aircraft carrier USS America shoot down a North Vietnamese Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed ” fighter near Haiphong. It is the only U.S. Marine Corps air-to-air victory of the Vietnam War. [1]

  • September 11 — American aircraft use precision-guided munitions to destroy the Long Bien Bridge over the Red River in downtown Hanoi. [1]

  • September 22 — The 1,000th Boeing 727 is sold, a sales record for airliners. [1]

  • September 24 — Thinking they are landing at Santacruz Airport near Bombay, India, the pilots of a Douglas DC-8-53 operating as Japan Airlines Flight 472 mistakenly land at nearby Juhu Aerodrome on a runway that is too short for a DC-8. The plane overruns the runway and is written off; there are no fatalities, but 11 of the 122 people on board suffer injuries. [1]

  • September 24 — A privately owned North American F-86 “Sabre” malfunctions on takeoff in Sacramento, California, and crashes into a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor. Ten adults and 12 children are killed. [1]

October 1972

  • October 10 — A competitive fly-off between the Northrop YA-9 and Fairchild YA-10 begins, continuing until December 9. [1]

  • October 13 — A U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4D “Phantom II” crewed by Lieutenant Colonel Curtis D. Westphal, pilot, and Captain Jeffrey S. Feinstein, weapon systems officer, shoots down a Mikoyan-Greenwich MiG-21 “Fishbed” over North Vietnam. The kill gives Feinstein his fifth aerial victory; he is the last of five American aviators - three Air Force and two Navy - to achieve ace status during the Vietnam War. [1]

  • October 13 — Carrying the Old Christians Club rugby union team from Montevideo, Uruguay, to play a match in Santiago, Chile, a Uruguayan Air Force Fairchild FH-227 operating as Flight 571 with 45 people on board crashes in the Andes in Argentina at an altitude of 3,600 m (11,800 ft). Twelve of those aboard die in the crash, five the next morning, and one more after eight days. An avalanche sweeps over the wreckage on October 29, killing eight more people, and another three die in November and December; survivors resort to eating dead passengers to stay alive. On December 12, passengers Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa make a 10-day hike to find help, reaching safety on December 22 and finally informing authorities of the survivors. The other 14 survivors finally are rescued on December 22 and 23. [1]

  • October 23 — In Vietnam, “Operation LineBacker” concludes. [1]

  • October 24 — As a peace gesture, the United States begins a seven-day halt on the bombing of North Vietnamese targets north of the 20th Parallel, but continues airstrikes at near-record levels against North Vietnamese supply lines south of the line. [1]

  • October 26 — The Russian American aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky dies at the age of 83. [1]

  • October 26 — A twin-engine plane carrying U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs and U.S. Congressman Nick Begich disappears in Alaska. No wreckage or bodies are ever found. [1]

  • October 29 — Two Palestinians hijack Lufthansa Flight 615 and demand the release of the three Black September members jailed in West Germany for the September 1972 attack on the Israeli Olympic team. After circling Zagreb, Yugoslavia before landing to pick up the three Black September members, they order the airliner to fly to Tripoli, Libya, where they are welcomed as heroes and the hostages are released 16 hours after the hijacking began. [1]

  • October 29 — Four days after killing an Arlington County, Virginia, police officer and a bank manager during a bank robbery, Charles A. Tuller, his teenage sons Bryce and Jonathan, and teenager William White Graham kill an Eastern Airlines ticket agent in Houston, hijack Eastern Airlines Flight 486 - a Boeing 727 with 13 passengers and a crew of seven aboard - there, and order it to be flown to Havana, Cuba. During the four-hour flight, which includes a refueling stop at New Orleans, Charles Tuller repeatedly harangues the 13 passengers aboard during the flight, saying he is a “white middle-class revolutionary” and that Cuba is “the only place that a person could enjoy the benefits of freedom”, and threatening some of them with guns. The three Tullers will return to the United States in June 1975, calling life in Cuba “a living hell”, and be arrested. Graham will return in the late 1970s and be arrested in 1993. [1]

  • October 31 — Two pilots are killed in the crash of a Dassault “Falcon 10” prototype. [1]

November 1972

  • November 10 — Southern Airways Flight 49 from Birmingham, Alabama, is hijacked. After the hijackers at one point threaten to crash the plane into the nuclear installation at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the plane lands in Havana, Cuba, on November 12, where the Cuban government jails the hijackers. [1]

  • November 15 — The first attempted aircraft hijacking in Australia takes place when Miloslav Hrabinec attempts to hijack Ansett Airlines Flight 232, a Fokker F27 “Friendship” with 31 other people on board, as it is descending to land at Alice Springs. He demands a parachute and to be flown 1,000 miles (1,621 km) into the desert. After landing at Alice Springs, he releases 22 passengers, then threatens to begin shooting the rest of the people on board if not given a light plane, a pilot, and a parachute. After he leaves the Fokker to approach the light plane with a flight attendant as a hostage, he wounds a policeman, is brought under fire by police, and then shoots himself to death. [1]

  • November 22 — A surface-to-air missile hits a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” over North Vietnam; its crew manages to fly it to Thailand before ejecting. It is the first time in history that a Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” has been lost to enemy action. [1]

  • November 28 — Philippine Airlines Flight 463, a Hawker Siddeley HS.748-232 Series 2, veers off the runway and suffers severe wing and propeller damage and a nose wheel collapse on landing at Bislig Airport in Bislig City, the Philippines. All 28 people on board survive. [1]

  • November 28 — Japan Airlines Flight 446, a Douglas DC-8-62, stalls and crashes during climbout from Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, killing 62 of the 76 people on board and injuring all 14 survivors. [1]

December 1972

  • December 8 — Seven members of the Eritrean Liberation Front attempt to hijack Ethiopian Airlines Flight 708, a Boeing 720-060B with 87 other people on board, minutes after it departs Haile Selassie I International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Security guards on board open fire, killing six of them and mortally wounding the seventh. There are no other fatalities. [1]

  • December 8 — United Airlines Flight 553, a Boeing 737-222, crashes on approach to Chicago Midway International Airport in Chicago. Forty-three people on the plane die, as do two people on the ground; 16 aboard the plane survive. Among the dead are Illinois Congressman George W. Collins; Dorothy Hunt, the wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt; Michele Clark, a correspondent for CBS News and one of the first African American network correspondents; and Dr. Alex E. Krill, a noted ophthalmologist from the University of Chicago. It is the first fatal accident involving a Boeing 737. [1]

  • December 18-25 — Frustrated with a lack of progress in peace talks with North Vietnamese negotiators, the United States conducts “Operation LineBacker II”. Sometimes called “The December Raids” and “The Christmas Bombing”, it involves intense American bombing of North Vietnam, including heavy operations by U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 “Stratofortresses” and the laying of naval mines in North Vietnamese harbors including Haiphong. On the first day, 86 Boeing B-52 “ Stratofortress ” based at Guam strike Hanoi. [1]

  • December 20 — North Central Airlines Flight 575, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31, collides with Delta Air Lines Flight 954, a Convair CV-880, on a runway at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, killing 10 and injuring 15 of the 45 people on board the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and injuring two of the 93 people aboard the Convair CV-880. [1]

  • December 23 — Soviet aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev dies, aged 86. [1]

  • December 23 — Braathens SAFE Flight 239, a Fokker F-28 “Fellowship”, crashes at Asker, Norway, while on approach to land at Oslo Airport in Fornebu, killing 40 of the 45 people on board and injuring all five survivors. It is deadliest air accident in Norwegian history at the time and the first involving a Fokker “Fellowship”. [1]

  • December 25 — The United States begins a 36-hour pause in the bombing of North Vietnam. [1]

  • December 26-29 — “Operation LineBacker II” continues. On December 26, 117 Boeing B-52 “Stratofortresses” attack Hanoi in the largest air assault in the Vietnam War to this time. [1]

  • December 27 — The U.S. Marine Corps loses a fixed-wing aircraft over Vietnam for the last time. [1]

  • December 29 — Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011 “Tristar”, crashes into the Florida Everglades after the pilots are distracted by a faulty light bulb; 101 people die and the other 75 on board are injured. [1]

  • December 30 — President Richard Nixon orders a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam as the North Vietnamese show a renewed interest in peace negotiations. [1]

  • December 31 — Puerto Rican Major League Baseball star Roberto Clemente and all four other people aboard a Douglas DC-7 die when the plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off Isla Verde just after takeoff from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He had chartered the plane to carry aid to Nicaragua after a major earthquake there. [1]

1972 First Flights

  • January 21 — Lockheed S-3A “Viking” (BuNo 157992). [1]

  • February 21 — AESL “Airtrainer” (ZK-DGY). [1]

  • May 10 — Fairchild YA-10 (AF 71-1369). [1]

  • May 27 — Partenavia P.70 “Alpha” (I-GIOY). [1]

  • May 30 — Northrop YA-9 (AF 71-1367). [1]

  • June 2 — Aérospatiale SA.360 “Dauphin” (F-WSQL). [1]

  • July 6 — SAAB-MFI 17. [1]

  • July 27 — McDonnell Douglas YF-15A (AF 71-280), first pre-production McDonnell Douglas F-15 “Eagle”. [1]

  • October 27 — Beechcraft “Super King” Air Model 200. [1]

  • October 28 — Airbus A300 (F-WUAB). [1]

  • December 23 — Aero “Boero” AB-260. [1]

1972 Aircraft Entering Service

  • Summer 1972 — Beechcraft “King Air” Model E90. [1]

  • April 15 — Lockheed L-1011 “TriStar” with Eastern Air Lines. [1]

  • October 8 — Grumman F-14A “Tomcat”, the United States Navy's first carrier-based variable-geometry wing aircraft, with U.S. Navy Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124). [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1972 in Aviation

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