1978 Master Index 1980

1979 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

1979 Events

  • 1979 — Eight Bell 212s delivered to the Civil Aviation Administration of China are the first helicopters supplied to the People's Republic of China by an American manufacturer. [1]

January 1979

  • January 12 — Pilatus Aircraft acquires Britten-Norman. [1]

  • January 30 — Varig Boeing 707-320C (PP-VLU), a cargo plane, disappears over the Pacific Ocean 30 minutes after departing Tokyo's Narita International Airport. Its wreck is never found. Lost along with the six people on board are 153 paintings by Manabu Mabe. The captain had been the pilot of Varig Flight 820, which had crashed in France in 1973. [1]

February 1979

  • February 12 — Members of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) shoot down Air Rhodesia Flight 827, the Vickers “Viscount Umniati”, with a “Strela 2” (NATO reporting name “SA-7 Grail”) surface-to-air missile in the Vuti African Purchase Area of Rhodesia east of Lake Kariba, killing all 59 people on board. [1]

  • February 18 — Flying from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod in Sandwich, Massachusetts, in bad weather to rescue a crewman in distress aboard the Japanese fishing vessel Kasei Maru #18, the United States Coast Guard Sikorsky HH-3F “Pelican” helicopter (CG-1432) loses power and ditches in heavy seas in the North Atlantic Ocean 180 nautical miles (207 mi; 333 km) southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. One Canadian Armed Forces and three U.S. Coast Guard personnel aboard die; Kasei Maru No. 18 rescues one U.S. Coast Guard crewman and recovers the bodies of the other four men. [1]

  • February 26 — Production of the Donald Douglas A-4 “Skyhawk” ends after 26 years, with the delivery of the 2,690th and final aircraft to the United States Marine Corps. [1]

  • February 28 — Since January 1, Tanzania has shot down 19 Ugandan aircraft during the Uganda-Tanzania War. The losses drive the Ugandan Air Force out of the war. [1]

March 1979

  • March 10 — The United States Air Force sends Boeing E-3 “Sentry” airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to monitor the civil war in Yemen. [1]

  • March 14 — A British-built Hawker Siddeley “Trident” crashes into a factory in Beijing, China, killing an estimated 200 people, including a dozen crew and passengers and scores of victims in the factory. [1]

  • March 25 — Qantas retires its last Boeing 707 and becomes the world's first airline with a fleet made up exclusively of Boeing 747s. [1]

  • March 29 — Quebecair Flight 255, a Fairchild F-27, suffers an engine explosion minutes after takeoff from Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. While attempting to return to the airport, the airliner crashes into a hillside, killing 17 of the 24 people on board. [1]

  • March 31 — 550 senior officers of the Iranian armed forces, many of the them Iranian Air Force and Iranian Army generals, have been killed or driven out of military service since the Iranian Revolution deposed the Shah of Iran on 11 February. [1]

April 1979

  • April 4 — Trans World Airlines Flight 841, a Boeing 727-31 with 89 people on board on a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, suddenly rolls sharply to the right over Saginaw, Michigan, and goes into a spiral dive from 39,000 feet (11,887 m) including two 360-degree rolls despite corrective measures taken by both the autopilot and the human pilot, losing 34,000 (10,363 m) of altitude in 63 seconds before the flight crew manages to pull out of the dive at 5,000 feet (1,524 m). Eight passengers suffer minor injuries caused by exposure to high g forces. The plane makes an emergency landing at Detroit, Michigan, without further incident. [1]

May 1979

  • May 7 — Beechcraft announces its intention to re-enter the commuter airliner market. It had last produced a commuter airliner in late 1977. [1]

  • May 16 — A New York Airways Sikorsky S-61 helicopter tips over while taking on passengers at the Pan Am Building in New York City, killing four. The heliport is closed permanently after the accident. [1]

  • May 25 — American Airlines Flight 191, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 crashes at O'Hare International Airport, Chicago shortly after take-off after its number one engine detaches during its takeoff, killing all 271 on board and two more on the ground, making it the most devastating air disaster in American history. Soon after the incident, all the McDonnell Douglas DC-10s are then grounded across the United States. [1]

  • May 27 — The prime minister of Mauritania, Ahmed Ould Bouceif, dies in an airplane crash in the Atlantic Ocean off Dakar, Senegal. [1]

June 1979

  • June — Three Iraqi Air Force aircraft bomb several Iranian villages near the northern Iran-Iraq border which Iraq suspects house Kurdish rebels. [1]

  • June 12 — Flying the “Gossamer Albatross” from Folkestone Warren, England, to a French beach south of Cap Gris-Nez in 2 hours 49 minutes, Bryan Allen becomes the first person to cross the English Channel in a pedal-powered aircraft. [1]

  • June 17 — Air New England Flight 248, a de Havilland DHC-6 “Twin Otter 300”, crashes at Camp Greenough in the Yarmouth Port section of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, while on approach to a landing at Barnstable Municipal Airport in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. The pilot, Air New England co-founder George Parmenter, dies, but the other nine people on board all survive, including author Robert Sabbag. [1]

  • June 20 — Nikola Kavaja, a Serbian nationalist and anti-communist, hijacks American Airlines Flight 293, a Boeing 727, shortly before it lands in Chicago, Illinois, intending to gain control of an aircraft that he can crash into Yugoslav Communist Party headquarters in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He allows the passengers and most of the crew to debark, then orders the crew to fly the 727 to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. There he demands and receives a Boeing 707, which he orders to be flown to Shannon, Ireland, where he intends to take control of the 707 for the suicide flight to Belgrade, but the hijacking ends when he surrenders to authorities in Shannon. [1]

  • June 20 — U.S. Navy Lieutenant Donna L. Spruill pilots a Grumman C-1 “Trader” to an arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CV-62), becoming the first female U.S. Navy pilot to carrier-qualify in fixed-wing aircraft. [1]

  • June 27 — Israeli Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-15 “Eagles” shoot down four Syrian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”. These are the first kills for the McDonnell Douglas F-15 “ Eagle ”. [1]

July 1979

  • July 1 — North Central Airlines and Southern Airways merge to form Republic Airlines, with headquarters at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota. [1]

  • July 11 — A Garuda Indonesia Fokker F-28 “Fellowship” crashes into Mount Sibayak on Sumatra in Indonesia, killing all 61 people on board. [1]

  • July 23 — The British government announces plans to privatize British Airways and publicly sell British Aerospace shares. [1]

  • July 27 — Israeli Air Force “Kfir C.1” fighters escorting reconnaissance aircraft over Lebanon encounter Syrian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (NATO reporting name “Fishbed-J”) fighters and shoot one down with a “Shafrir-2” air-to-air missile. It is the only aerial victory by a “Kfir C.1” in Israeli service. [1]

  • July 31 — Dan-Air Flight 0034, a Hawker Siddeley HS.748, crashes into the sea while attempting to take off from Sumburgh Airport on the Shetland Mainland in Scotland, drowning 17 of the 47 people on board. [1]

August 1979

  • August — Six months after the Iranian Revolution, all 79 of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force's Grumman F-14 “Tomcats” have been sabotaged to prevent them from firing Hughes AIM-54 “Phoenix” air-to-air missiles, and most of its combat aircraft are not operational; most Iranian helicopters are not airworthy, and Iran has made plans to cannibalize half of its helicopters for spare parts in order to fly the remainder. [1]

  • August 11 — Two Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-134 jetliners collide in mid-air over Dniprodzerzhynsk in the Soviet Union's Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, killing all 156 people aboard the two planes. Among the dead are 17 players and staff of the then-Soviet-top-division Pakhtakor Football Club team. [1]

  • August 14 — Steve Hinton sets a new piston-engine airspeed record in a specially-modified North American P-51 “Mustang” named the “RB51 Red Baron”. He reaches 499 mph (803 km/h) over Nevada. [1]

  • August 30 — A U.S. Navy Sikorsky CH-53D “Sea Stallion” helicopter of Air Transport Squadron 24 (VR-24) lifts a 12-foot (3.7-meter) statue of the Madonna and Child too large to transport by land to the top of Mount Tiberius on the Italian island of Capri, replacing one destroyed by lightning. [1]

October 1979

  • October 30 — Sir Barnes Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb, geodetic airframe, and earthquake bomb, dies at the age of 82. [1]

  • October 31 — Western Airlines Flight 2605, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10, mistakenly lands on a closed runway in fog at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, strikes a parked truck, crashes, and bursts into flames. Seventy-two of the 89 people on board die. [1]

November 1979

  • November 4 — The Iranian hostage crisis begins as Iranian students take over the United States Embassy in Tehran. The United States quickly halts all spare-parts shipments and technical assistance to the Iranian Air Force and imposes an embargo on Iran, and the United Kingdom also cuts off most military shipments to Iran. [1]

  • November 11 — Hawaiian Airlines celebrates 50 years of accident-free air passenger service. [1]

  • November 15 — A bomb planted by the Unabomber in the cargo hold of a Boeing 727 operating as American Airlines Flight 444 from Chicago, Illinois, to Washington, D.C., malfunctions, failing to detonate but giving off large quantities of smoke. Twelve of the 78 people on board are treated for smoke inhalation. The attack brings the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the Unabomber investigation for the first time because attacking the airliner is the Unabomber's first federal crime. [1]

  • November 26 — A flight attendant reports a fire aboard Pakistan International Airlines Flight 740, a Boeing 707-340C, 18 minutes after takeoff from Jeddah International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The fire spreads rapidly, causing panic in the passenger cabin and incapacitating the flight crew and the aircraft crashes, killing all 156 people on board. [1]

  • November 28 — A McDonnell Douglas DC-10 operating as Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashes on Mount Erebus in Antarctica during a sightseeing flight, killing all 257 people aboard. [1]

December 1979

  • December 23 — The Turkish Airlines Fokker F28-1000 “Fellowship Trabzon” crashes into a hill near Kuyumcuköy in the Çubuk district of Ankara Province while on approach to Esenboga Airport in Ankara, killing 41 of the 45 people on board. [1]

  • December 25 — Antonov An-12s and An-22s airlift the first Soviet troops into Afghanistan. 5,000 arrive in the first 24 hours. [1]

1979 Aircraft First Flights

  • 1979 — Antonov An-32 (“Cline”). [1]

  • February 28 — PAC “Cresco”. [1]

  • March 9 — Dassault “Mirage 4000”. [1]

  • March 22 — Lockheed CP-140 “Aurora”. [1]

  • April 10 — Westland WG.30 (G-BGHF). [1]

  • April 19 — Learjet 55. [1]

  • May 15 — Dassault “Mirage 50”. [1]

  • May 18 — Piper PA-42 “Cheyenne”. [1]

  • June 12 — Rutan “Long-EZ” prototype (N79RA). [1]

  • July 24 — Bell XV-15. [1]

  • October 27 — Panavia “Tornado ADV”. [1]

  • November 30 — Piper “Malibu”. [1]

  • December 12 — Sikorsky SH-60 “Seahawk” (BuNo 161169). [1]

  • December 14 — Edgley “Optica” (G-BGMW). [1]

  • December 21 — NASA AD-1. [1]

  • December 22 — Aérospatiale “Epsilon”. [1]

1979 Aircraft Entering Service

  • Mid-1979 — Beechcraft Model F90 “Super King Air”. [1]

  • January 6 — General Dynamics F-16 “Fighting Falcon” with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing USAF. [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1979 in Aviation

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