1977 Master Index 1979

1978 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

January 1978

  • January 1 — The Boeing 747-237B “Emperor Ashoka”, operating as Air India Flight 855, crashes into the Arabian Sea just off Bombay, India, immediately after takeoff from Sahar International Airport, killing all 213 people on board. [1]

  • January 1 — British Aircraft Corporation, Hawker Siddeley, and Scottish Aviation are absorbed into British Aerospace. [1]

  • January 18 — After its nose wheel locks in the up position, Eastern Air Lines Flight 274, a Boeing 727-25, makes a two-point landing at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, without injury to any of the 76 people on board and with only minor damage to the airliner. [1]

February 1978

  • February 11 — To avoid a snow plow on the runway at Cranbrook/Canadian Rockies International Airport near Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314, a Boeing 737-200, aborts its landing and attempts a go-around, but its thrust reversers do not retract fully and it crashes, killing 42 of the 49 people on board. [1]

  • February 22 — An arson fire destroys the San Diego Aerospace Museum in San Diego, California. Several one-of-a-kind aircraft are destroyed, including the Beecraft “Wee Bee” and Beecraft “Honey Bee”, as well as a reproduction of the “Spirit of St. Louis”. [1]

March 1978

  • March 11 — Flight Lieutenant David Cyster arrives in Darwin, Australia, completing a 32-day, 9,000-mile (14,493-km) flight from England in the de Havilland DH.82A “Tiger Moth” (G-ANRF) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bert Hinkler's first solo England-to-Australia flight in 1928. [1]

  • March 16 — A Balkan Bulgarian Airlines Tupolev Tu-134 crashes near Gabare, Bulgaria, killing all 73 people on board. [1]

April 1978

  • April 1 — The Canadian “Snowbirds” aerobatic team officially becomes 431 Air Demonstration Squadron. [1]

  • April 18 — The Vickers “Viscount” becomes the first turboprop airliner to see 25 years in service. [1]

  • April 20 — Korean Airlines Flight 902, a Boeing 707-321B flying from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seoul, South Korea, with 109 people on board, veers drastically off course and violates Soviet airspace over the Kola Peninsula. A Soviet Air Defense Forces Sukhoi Su-15 (NATO reporting name “Flagon”) fighter hits the airliner with an air-to-air missile, badly damaging the left wing and puncturing the fuselage, killing two passengers. The plane eventually makes a crash landing on a frozen lake near Loukhi, where Soviet helicopters rescue the 107 survivors. [1]

  • April 26 — Possibly due to engine trouble, a United States Navy Lockheed P-3 “Orion” patrol aircraft (BuNo 152724) of Patrol Squadron 23 (VP-23) crashes in the Atlantic Ocean near Naval Air Facility Lajes in Lajes in the Azores, killing the crew of seven. [1]

May 1978

  • May 8 — The National Airlines Boeing 727-235 “Donna”, operating as Flight 193, crashes into Escambia Bay while on descent to Pensacola, Florida, killing three of the 58 people on board and injuring 11 of the 55 survivors. [1]

  • May 16-27 — Eighteen U.S. Air Force Lockheed C-141 “Starlifters” fly 32 missions to transport 850 short tons (771 metric tons) of cargo and 125 passengers to Zaire in support of French Foreign Legion troops and Belgian paratroopers deploying there to oppose the “Shaba II” invasion of the Zairian province of Shaba by a separatist movement. [1]

  • May 19 — A Belgian force of 1,171 paratroopers arrives at Kamina, Zaire, in Belgian aircraft to intervene in the “Shaba II” crisis. [1]

  • May 19 — Paratroopers of the French Foreign Legion jump into Kolwezi, Zaire, from three French Transall C-160 and four Zairian Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” aircraft to intervene against separatists during the “Shaba II” crisis, meeting little organized resistance. [1]

  • May 20 — Belgian troops land unopposed the airfield at Kolwezi after Zairian ground forces have seized it. Additional French Foreign Legion paratroopers jump over Kolwezi later in the day. [1]

  • May 20 — McDonnell Douglas delivers its 5,000th McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” aircraft, 20 years after the first flight of the prototype. [1]

  • May 23 — A Tupolev Tu-144D experienced an in-flight failure during a pre-delivery test flight, and crash-landed with crew fatalities. [1]

  • May 24 — Barbara Ann Oswald hijacks a St. Louis, Missouri-based charter helicopter and orders its pilot, Allen Barklage, to fly it to United States Penitentiary, Marion, in Marion, Illinois, so that her husband, Garrett B. Trapnell - imprisoned there for a 1972 airliner hijacking - can escape. Barklage wrestles Oswald's gun from her as he lands the helicopter in the prison yard and shoots her to death. In December, her daughter Robin Oswald will hijack an airliner in an unsuccessful attempt to get Trapnell released. [1]

  • May 31 — U.S. Air Force Lockheed C-141 “Starlifter” aircraft begin to transport French and Belgian troops as they withdraw from their intervention in the “Shaba II” affair in Zaire. Simultaneously, the Lockheed C-141 “Starlifters” begin airlift support for troops from Gabon, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Senegal, and Togo as they deploy into Shaba on peacekeeping duties. [1]

June 1978

  • June 9 — Inaugural flight of the Airlink helicopter shuttle service between London Gatwick and London Heathrow Airports. [1]

  • June 26 — Air Canada Flight 189, a Douglas DC-9-32, crashes on takeoff at Toronto International Airport, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, killing two passengers and injuring most of the other 105 people on board. [1]

July 1978

  • July 1-19 — Frank Haile Jr. and William Wisner fly two Beechcraft “Bonanzas” around the world in formation. [1]

  • July 11 — The Government of the United Kingdom agrees to fund development of the British Aerospace BAe 146 airliner. [1]

  • July 14 — After receiving orders from United Airlines, Boeing begins full-scale development of the Boeing 767. [1]

  • July 24 — McDonnell Douglas completes the 5,000th McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II”. [1]

August 1978

  • August 12-17 — Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman make the first transatlantic crossing by balloon, taking 5 days 17 hours to travel from Presque Isle, Maine, to Evreux, France in the “Double Eagle II”. [1]

  • August 30 — Two East Germans hijack LOT Flight 165, a Tupolev Tu-134 with 63 passengers on board, during a flight from Gdansk, Poland, to East Berlin, taking a flight attendant hostage. They force the plane to fly to Tempelhof Airport in West Berlin, where all aboard the plane are released unharmed and the two hijackers and six other East German passengers on the plane claim sanctuary. [1]

September 1970

  • September 3 — Members of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) shoot down Air Rhodesia Flight 825, the Vickers “Viscount Hunyani”, with a “Strela 2” (NATO reporting name “SA-7 Grail”) surface-to-air missile west of Karoi, Rhodesia. Of the 56 people on board, 38 die in the crash and ZIPRA guerrillas shoot 10 more to death on the ground, leaving only eight survivors. [1]

  • September 25 — Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182, a Boeing 727 airliner, collides with a Cessna 172 over San Diego, California. There were no survivors on either plane, and with the seven fatalities on the ground the total number of lives lost was 144, making it the worst air disaster in California history to date. [1]

  • September 30 — Aarno Lamminparras, an unemployed home building contractor, hijacks Finnair Flight 405, a Sud Aviation SE-210 “Caravelle” with 47 other people on board flying from Oulu to Helsinki, Finland. At Helsinki, he allows 34 passengers off the plane, which he then forces to fly Back to Oulu, where he receives a ransom payment from Finnair, then Back to Helsinki, where he receives more money from a Finnish newspaper and releases the remaining 11 passengers. The aircraft then flies to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, refuels, and returns to Helsinki for more ransom money from the newspaper before flying on to Oulu, where he releases his final three hostages in exchange for a chauffeured limousine ride home and 24 hours alone with his wife. Police storm his house and arrest him. [1]

October 1978

  • October 30 — The Government of India approves the purchase of the SEPECAT “Jaguar” for the Indian Air Force. [1]

November 1978

  • November 15 — Icelandic Airlines Flight LL 001, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8, crashes at Katunayake, Sri Lanka, just short of the runway while on approach to land at Colombo International Airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, killing 183 of the 262 people on board and injuring 32 of the 79 survivors. It remains the deadliest accident in the history of Icelandic aviation. [1]

  • November 20 — The United States Air Force orders development of the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 “Extender” aerial tanker. [1]

December 1978

  • December — The retirement of the aircraft carrier ' leaves the Royal Navy without a ship capable of operating high-performance fixed-wing aircraft for the first time since 1918. [1]

  • December 11 — Masked men rob the Lufthansa cargo handling area at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, New York, of $5 million in cash and $875,000 in jewels newly flown in from West Germany in the largest cash robbery ever committed in the United States at the time. [1]

  • December 21 — Seventeen-year-old Robin Oswald hijacks Trans World Airlines Flight 541, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 with 87 people on board, threatening to blow up the airliner if her father is not released from prison. The aircraft makes an emergency landing at Williamson County Regional Airport in Marion, Illinois, where authorities talk her into surrendering without further incident. Her father, Garrett B. Trapnell, had been imprisoned for a 1972 airliner hijacking and her mother, Barbara Ann Oswald, Trapnell's wife, had been killed when she hijacked a helicopter in May 1978 in order to help him escape from prison. [1]

  • December 23 — On approach to a landing in Palermo, Sicily, Alitalia Flight 4128, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, crashes into the Tyrrhenian Sea about 3 km (1.9 mi) north of Palermo, killing 108 of the 129 on board and injuring all 21 survivors. [1]

  • December 28 — United Airlines Flight 173, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8-61, crashes in Portland, Oregon, killing 10 and injuring 28 of the 189 aboard. The aircraft had run out of fuel while the crew was troubleshooting landing gear indicator problems. [1]

  • December 29 — Freddie To makes the first flight of a solar-powered aircraft, the “Solar One”. [1]

1978 Aircraft First Flights

  • January 11 — American Jet Industries “Hustler” Model 400 (N400AJ), prototype of the Gulfstream American “Hustler”. [1]

  • February 14 — Cessna 303. [1]

  • March 10 — Dassault “Mirage” 2000 (2000-01). [1]

  • April 10 — Sikorsky S-72 (NASA545, 2nd aircraft). [1]

  • June 30 — Rutan “Defiant”. [1]

  • July 6 — NASA QSRA (NASA715). [1]

  • August 12 — Pilatus PC-7 (HB-HAO). [1]

  • August 20 — Aéw;rospatiale “Fouga 90” (F-WZJB). [1]

  • August 20 — British Aerospace “Sea Harrier” (XZ450). [1]

  • August 29 — Mistubishi MU-300 “Diamond”. [1]

  • September 13 — Aérospatiale “Super Puma” (F-WZJA). [1]

  • November 8 — Canadair CL-600 “Challenger” (C-GCGR-X). [1]

  • November 9 — McDonnell Douglas AV-8B “Harrier II”. [1]

  • November 18 — McDonnell Douglas YF-18A “Hornet” (BuNo 160775, prototype of the F/A-18 “Hornet”). [1]

  • December 19 — Beriev A-50. [1]

  • December 30 — General Avia “Canguro” (I-KANG). [1]

1978 Aircraft Entering Service

  • January 26 — Westland “Lynx” with No. 702 Squadron FAA. [1]

  • April — Dassault HU-25 “Guardian” with United States Coast Guard. [1]

  • April — Mitsubishi F-1 with Japan Air Self-Defense Force. [1]

  • June 28 — Dassault “Super Étendard” with the Aéronavale. [1]

  • August 20 — BAe “Sea Harrier”. [1]

1978 Aircraft Retiring from Service

  • 1978 — Convair F-102 “Delta Dagger” by the United States Air National Guard. [1]

  • June — Douglas TF-10B “Skyknight” (known as Douglas F3D “Skynight” before September 1962) by the United States Marine Corps. [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1978 in Aviation

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