1979 Master Index 1981

1980 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

1980 Events

  • Summer 1980 —The British Aerospace “Sea Harrier” enters operational service with the Fleet Air Arm, providing the British Royal Navy with its first high-performance fixed-wing aircraft capability since the retirement of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal in December 1978. [1]

January 1980

  • January 8 —A Mooney 231 lands in San Francisco, after flying coast-to-coast non-stop across the continental United States, setting a record by completing the flight in 8 hours and 4 minutes. [1]

  • January 10 —A Cessna 441 en route from Shreveport to Baton Rouge, Louisiana ceases communications, flies far off-course on autopilot, and eventually crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off North Carolina due to fuel exhaustion. The two occupants, new Louisiana State University football coach Bo Rein and the pilot, are killed, and are assumed to have lost consciousness in flight due to hypoxia resulting from cabin depressurization. [1]

  • January 16 —British Island Airways and Air Anglia merge to form Air UK. [1]

  • January 21 —While on approach to Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, Iran, in fog and snow, an Iran Air Boeing 727-86 crashes in the Alborz Mountains, killing all 128 people on board. [1]

February 1980

  • February —An Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-18 “Coot” flies 30,000 km (18,630 miles) from Moscow in the Soviet Union to the Molodyozhnaya Station observatory in East Antarctica. [1]

  • February —One year after the Iranian Revolution, repeated purges of the Iranian armed forces have led to the loss of 25 to 50 percent of majors and field-grade officers of the Iranian Air Force and Iranian Army. [1]

  • February 21 —Australia experiences its first fatal airline accident since 1968 when an Advance Aviation Beechcraft King Air 200 suffers the failure of an engine shortly after takeoff from Sydney Airport in Mascot, Australia, due to water in the fuel tank and crashes into a seawall while trying to return to the airport. All 13 people on board die. [1]

  • February 27 —A China Airlines Boeing 707 originating from Taipei crash-lands in Manila, the Philippines, and is destroyed by fire. All 124 passengers and 11 crew members survive. [1]

March 1980

  • March 12-14 —Two United States Air Force Boeing B-52 “Stratofortresses” make a non-stop round-the-world flight in 42.5 hours. [1]

  • March 14 —The Ilyushin Il-62 “Classic - Mikolaj Kopernik”, operating as LOT Flight 7, crashes into the moat of a military fortress near Okecie Airport in Warsaw, Poland, as the crew attempts a go around after a mechanical failure forces them to abort a landing. All 87 people on board die, including Polish singer Anna Jantar, American ethnomusicologist Alan P. Merriam, and a contingent of the United States amateur boxing team. [1]

  • March 28 —The 1,000th production Learjet is delivered. [1]

April 1980

  • April 3 —The prototype of the Bombardier “Challenger 600” crashes in the Mojave Desert in California, killing its pilot. [1]

  • April 9 —In response to an assassination attempt against Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz by the pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim group Al Dawaa, the Iraqi Air Force bombs the Iranian town of Qasr-e Shirin on the Iraq-Iran border. [1]

  • April 12 —On a night approach to Hercilio Luz International Airport in Florianópolis, Brazil, during a severe thunderstorm, Transbrasil Flight 303, a Boeing 727-27C, crashes into a hill, killing 55 of the 58 people on board. [1]

  • April 18 —Air Zimbabwe is formed in Zimbabwe. [1]

  • April 24 —To rescue 52 Americans held hostage in Tehran, Iran, during the Iran hostage crisis, the United States Armed Forces mount “Operation Eagle Claw”, an attempt to carry United States Army Delta Force rescue team to Tehran in eight United States Navy Sikorsky RH-53 “Sea Stallion”D Sea Stallion helicopters manned by United States Marine Corps personnel flying from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in the Persian Gulf. The plan requires the helicopters to meet six United States Air Force aircraft - three special operations "Lockheed MC-130E “Combat Talon I” penetration/transport aircraft and three Lockheed EC-130 “Hercules”E “Hercules” - on the ground at the secret “Desert One” airstrip inside Iran for refueling. After only six of the helicopters arrive at “Desert One” and one of them proves mechanically incapable of continuing, the operation is aborted and, as the aircraft prepare to leave, a Sikorsky RH-53 “Sea Stallion” crashes into an Lockheed EC-130 “Hercules”, killing eight men and destroying both aircraft. The five surviving helicopters are abandoned and all the surviving personnel evacuate “Desert One” in the remaining Lockheed MC-130 “Hercules” and Lockheed EC-130 “Hercules”. [1]

  • April 25 —Dan-Air Flight 1008, a Boeing 727-46, turns the wrong way in a holding pattern and crashes into high terrain while on approach to Tenerife North Airport on the island of Tenerife in Spain's Canary Islands, killing all 146 people on board. It is the largest loss of life aboard an aircraft registered in the United Kingdom. [1]

  • April 27 —Thai Airways Flight 231, a Hawker Siddeley HS.748, crashes after entering a thunderstorm while on approach to Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, killing 44 of the 53 people on board and injuring all nine survivors. [1]

May 1980

  • May 1 —A United States Marine Corps Hawker Siddeley AV-8A “Harrier I” crashes spectacularly at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina. During a vertical takeoff the aircraft rolls, drops to the runway, bounces into a ditch, bursts into flames, flips, and slides through a hangar and into a parking lot, where it damages more than 20 vehicles. [1]

  • May 8-12 —Maxie Anderson and his son, Kristian Anderson, make the first nonstop balloon crossing of North America, flying from Fort Baker in California to Sainte-Félicité, Québec, Canada. [1]

June 1980

  • June —European Helicopter Industries is formed. [1]

  • June 13 —The last “Concorde” to be produced, number 16, is delivered to British Airways. [1]

  • June 19 —Sikorsky Aircraft delivers the last of its Sikorsky S-61 commercial helicopters. [1]

  • June 23 —Piloting a new aerobatic biplane of the Delhi Flying Club, Sanjay Gandhi, the son of Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, loses control at the top of a loop he is performing over his office near Safdarjung Airport in New Delhi, India. He and his passenger die in the subsequent crash. [1]

  • June 27 —Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, crashes in the Tyrrhenian Sea near the Italian island of Ustica, killing all 81 people on board. Various theories will be put forward suggesting that the airliner was destroyed in flight by a bomb or was accidentally shot down during a military exercise. In January 2013, Italy's highest criminal court finally will rule that a missile shot the plane down. [1]

July 1980

  • July 6 —The largest light airplane meet outside the United States brings 750 small planes to the Popular Flying Association's annual meeting in Leicester, England. [1]

  • July 17 — Cathay Pacific begins a Hong Kong-London service. [1]

  • July 17 —A Vickers “Viscount” of charter airline Alidair lands safely in Devon, England, after suffering damage to all four engines. [1]

  • July 21 —The General Dynamics General Dynamics F-16 “Fighting Falcon” is officially named the “Fighting Falcon” in a ceremony. [1]

August 1980

  • August 7 —Janice Brown pilots the MacCready “Gossamer Penguin” on its first solar-powered flight. [1]

  • August 19 —A fire breaks out in the aft cargo compartment of Saudia Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011-200 “TriStar”, a few minutes after takeoff from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The plane returns to the airport and makes a safe emergency landing, but instead of ordering an immediate emergency evacuation, the flight crew taxis onto a taxiway before stopping. Engine shutdown takes another 3 minutes 15 seconds, by which time all or most of the passengers and crew apparently have been overcome by smoke and fire. By the time airport emergency personnel get one of the plane's doors open 23 minutes after engine shutdown, all 301 people on board have died. It remains the second-deadliest single-aircraft accident in history, the deadliest in Saudi Arabian history, and the deadliest involving an L-1011 “TriStar ”. [1]

  • August 28-31 —The 3rd FAI World Rally Flying Championship is held in Aschaffenburg, West Germany. Individual winners are 1. Witold Swiadek / Andrzej Korzeniowski (Poland), 2. Otto Höfling / Michael Amtmann (West Germany), 3. Luckerbauer / Meszaros (Austria). Team results are 1. Poland, 2. West Germany, 3. Austria. [1]

September 1980

  • September 9 —Island Air begins operations in Hawaii. [1]

  • September 12 —Florida Commuter Airlines Flight 65, a Douglas DC-3A, crashes in the Atlantic Ocean near West End Settlement, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, killing all 34 people on board. Fifteen bodies are recovered before search-and-rescue operations cease on September 15. [1]

  • September 19 —The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force admits to losing two McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” fighter-bombers during heavy fighting with Iraq over control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. [1]

  • September 22 —The Iran-Iraq War begins. The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force has about 100,000 men and 447 combat aircraft, while the Iranian Army Aviation Corps has about 70 light reconnaissance and support planes and over 200 armed helicopters; only 50-to-60 percent of Iranian fixed-wing aircraft, 18-to-50 percent of its combat aircraft, and 60 percent of its helicopters are operational. The Iraqi Air Force has about 38,000 men, of which about 10,000 are air defense personnel, and 332 combat aircraft, and the Iraqi Army Air Corps has about 70 armed helicopters. [1]

  • September 22 —The Iraqi Air Force begins the war with an attempt to destroy the Iranian Air Force on the ground in a surprise attack, striking the Iranian airfields at Mehrabad, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, and Al-Ahwaz, and the Iranian Army bases at Hamadan, Tehran, Isfahan, Dezful, Shiraz, and Tabriz, but the attacks have little effect. [1]

  • September 23-24 —Iraqi aircraft attack Iranian airfields at Tabriz (twice), Dezful (twice), Shahroki, Kermanshah, Al-Ahwaz, and Sanandaj, but again make little impact on Iranian air capabilities. Iranian aircraft fly 100 sorties on September 23 despite the attacks, prompting Iraq ro disperse many of its aircraft into other Arab countries for the next week to ten days. [1]

  • September 24 —The Iraqi Air Force attacks Iran's oil terminal at Kharg Island for the first time. [1]

  • September 28 —Iraqi Air Force Tupolev Tu-22 “Blinder” bombers land in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after bombing Iran. [1]

  • September 30 —At Saudi Arabia's request, the U.S. Air Force's “ELF-1” force -consisting of four Boeing E-3A “Sentry” Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, two Boeing KC-135 “Stratotanker” tanker aircraft, and 300 support personnel - arrives at Dhahran International Airport in Saudi Arabia to provide long-range air defense and maritime surveillance support to Saudi and American forces. ELF-1 will remain in Saudi Arabia through the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. [1]

October 1980

  • October 1 —Republic Airlines completes buyout of Hughes Airwest. [1]

  • October 2 —A Westland “Sea King” helicopter rescues 22 passengers from the Swedish ship Finneagle in the North Sea. [1]

  • October 7 —The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force attacks Iraqi oil facilities at Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyeh, but inflicts little real damage. [1]

  • October 12 —Mesa Airlines commences operations. [1]

  • October 16 —Iraqi aircraft destroy Iranian oil tanks at Tehran. [1]

  • October 20 —The first dogfights of the Iran-Iraq War take place. Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II”s shoot down an Iraqi Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”. [1]

November 1980

  • November 1 —British Airways terminates “Concorde” services to Bahrain and Singapore. [1]

  • November 9 —Dan-Air registers the last commercial flight by a de Havilland “Comet”. The plane flies enthusiasts on a round-trip flight from London. [1]

  • November 12 —Delta Air Lines orders 60 Boeing 757s, the largest single order to this time for a single airliner type. [1]

  • November 21 —Continental Micronesia Flight 614, a Boeing 727-92C, skids off the runway and crashes when its right main landing gear separates from the airliner as it lands at Yap International Airport on Yap in the western Caroline Islands. A fire subsequently destroys the plane, but all 73 people on board evacuate, three of them with serious injuries. [1]

  • November 25 —U.S. Navy helicopters join U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army units in providing aid to victims of an earthquake at Avellino, Italy, which had killed 3,000 and left many people homeless two days earlier. [1]

December 1980

  • December —Thanks to purges of officers since the February 1979 Iranian Revolution and the Western embargo on spare parts shipments to Iran, by late 1980 the operational level of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force drops below 100 aircraft and its sustained sortie rate to drop to one per day. This will not change through the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. The Iranian Army helicopter force, able to fly 60 to 70 percent of its helicopters, suffers from similar problems. [1]

  • December 7 —The Pan American World Airways Boeing 747 “China Clipper” arrives in Beijing, China, from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after a stop in Tokyo, Japan. It marks the first time since 1949 that a commercial flight between the United States and mainland China is completed. [1]

  • December 19 —New York Air begins airline operations. [1]

  • December 22 —Saudia Flight 162, a Lockheed L-1011 “TriStar” with 292 people on board, suffers an explosive decompression over the Persian Gulf off Qatar, killing two people and injuring seven. [1]

  • December 24 —The Iraqi Air Force makes its first major air raid against the Iranian oil terminal at Kharg Island. [1]

1980 First Flights

  • May 13 —Antonov An-3. [1]

  • June 4 —Mitsubishi F-15J. [1]

  • June 20 —Beechcraft “Commuter”. [1]

  • June 24 —Microturbo “Microjet 200” (F-WZJF). [1]

  • July 12 —McDonnell Douglas KC-10 “Extender” (AF 79-0433). [1]

  • July 23 —Aérospatiale “Dauphin II”. [1]

  • August 11 —Learjet “Longhorn 50”. [1]

  • August 16 —EMBRAER “Tucano 1300”. [1]

  • August 19 —Boeing-Vertol Model 234. [1]

  • September 26 —Shanghai Y-10. [1]

  • November 6 —MacCready “Solar Challenger”. [1]

1980 Aircraft Entering Service

  • January —Bell Model 222 with Petroleum Helicopters and Schiavone Construction. [1]

  • October — The McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 series enters airline service. [1]

  • November 13 —McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 “Hornet” with VFA-125 at NAS Lemoore. [1]

  • December 26 —Ilyushin Il-86 “Camber” with Aeroflot. [1]

1980 Aircraft Retiring from Service

  • 1980 —North American F-100 “Super Sabre” by the United States Air National Guard. [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1980 in Aviation

Copyright © 1998-2018 (Our 20th Year) Skytamer Images, Whittier, California