1980 Master Index 1982

1981 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

January 1981

  • January 3 —Pan American World Airways makes its final Boeing 707 flight. [1]

  • January 7 —A Boeing 747 of CAAC lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, marking the first flight from the mainland of China to the United States since 1949. [1]

  • January 11-13 —Max Anderson and Don Ida make a failed attempt to circumnavigate the world by balloon, although their craft, the Jules Verne, makes a flight of 2,900 miles (4,667 km) from Luxor, Egypt, to New Delhi, India, in 48 hours before they give up. [1]

  • January 25 —Bell Helicopter delivers its 25,000th production helicopter, a Bell 222 to Omniflight Helicopters. [1]

  • January 28 —Pan Am commences a weekly New York-Beijing service. [1]

February 1981

  • February 1 —American aircraft industrialist Donald Douglas, founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company, dies at the age of 88. [1]

  • February 18 —American aircraft designer and industrialist Jack Northrop, founder of the Northrop Corporation, dies at the age of 85. [1]

March 1981

  • March 2 —Japan Air Lines is the first airline to use a computerized flight simulator to train its crews. [1]

  • March 26 —The keel of the first aircraft carrier designed as such to be built in Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, is laid by Italcantieri in Monfalcone. [1]

  • March 28 —Members of the group Komando Jihad hijack the Douglas DC-9 “Woyla”, operating as Garuda Indonesia Flight 206 with 57 passengers on board, during a flight from Palembang to Medan on Sumatra in Indonesia, ordering the plane to fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka. After refueling at Penang, Malaysia, the aircraft flies to Don Muang, Thailand, where commandos of the Royal Thai Air Force and Indonesian Army Kopassus unit storm it. Four hijackers and a Kopassus commando are killed and two people are injured; the two hijackers who surrender are killed on an aircraft taking them and the Kopassus troops to Djakarta. [1]

  • March 28 —Air France pilot Michel Breton flies the airline's last Sud Aviation “Caravelle” service, from Amsterdam to Paris. [1]

  • March 29 —British Airways makes its last Vickers VC.10 flight. [1]

April 1981

  • April 3 —Pan American World Airways founder Juan Trippe dies in Los Angeles, California. [1]

  • April 4 —In the Iran-Iraq War, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force strikes deep into Iraqi territory, destroying 46 Iraqi aircraft at Al-Walid Air Base. Iraq later claims that the Syrian Air Force provided cover for the attack. [1]

  • April 10 —Japan Air Lines carries its 10 millionth passenger. [1]

  • April 12 —The Space Shuttle “Columbia&dquo; takes off. It marks the first time an American space shuttle flies operationally. It glides to a landing two days later. [1]

  • April 30 — The Israeli Air Force comes within hours of attacking the first Syrian 2K12 “Kub” (NATO reporting name SA-6 “Gainful”) surface-to-air missile batteries deployed in Lebanon before the attack is cancelled. [1]

  • April 30 —Peoplexpress Airlines commences operations. [1]

May 1981

  • May 2 —A 55-year-old Australian man, Laurence James Downey, enters a lavatory aboard Aer Lingus Flight 164, a Boeing 737-200 with 107 other people on board, five minutes before landing at London Heathrow Airport in London, England, douses himself with petrol (gasoline), and walks into the cockpit with a cigarette lighter in his hand. He demands that the airliner fly to Iran, then specifies France when the flight crew tells him that the aircraft lacks the fuel to fly to Iran. The plane lands at Le Touquet - Côte d'Opale Airport in Le Touquet, France, where Downey demands that Pope John Paul II make public the Third Secret of Fatima. After 10 hours, French police storm the plane and arrest Downey without injury to anyone. [1]

  • May 9 —After modifications, the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes reenters service with the Royal Navy as the world's first carrier with a ski-jump ramp. Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander D. R. Taylor had developed the ramp. [1]

  • May 21 —Iraqi Air Force aircraft make a missile attack on the Panamanian bulk carrier Louise I in the Persian Gulf outside the Iranian port of Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni, slightly damaging her. [1]

June 1981

  • June 7 —In “Operation Opera”, eight Israeli Air Force General Dynamics F-16 “Fighting Falcon” “Fighting Falcon”s armed with two 2,000-pound (907-kg) bombs each, escorted by six McDonnell-Douglas F-15 “Eagles”, make a long-range strike into Iraq to destroy the nuclear reactor at Osirak. A French technician and a number of Iraqis are killed. It is the first time any air force uses the General Dynamics F-16 “Fighting Falcon” in combat. [1]

  • June 13 —Several Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” fighter-bombers overfly Kuwait, apparently to warn Kuwait to reduce its support for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, and Kuwaiti air defenses fire at them. [1]

  • June 26 —Dan-Air Flight 240, a Hawker Siddeley HS.748 series 2A cargo aircraft, crashes near Nailstone, Leicestershire, England, killing the entire crew of three, after the failure of a cabin door causes a major structural failure. [1]

July 1981

  • July 7 —Stephen Ptacek flies the solar-powered aircraft “Solar Challenger” across the English Channel, taking a little over five hours. [1]

  • July 17 —The Israeli Air Force attacks Beirut, Lebanon, in retribution for Palestinian terror attacks. [1]

  • July 28 —The impeached former President of Iran, Abulhassan Banisadr, flees Iran after being smuggled aboard an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Boeing 707. The aircraft takes him to exile in Paris, France. [1]

  • July 31 —The leader of Panama's military dictatorship, General Omar Torrijos Herrera, dies along with all six other people on board when a Panamanian Air Force de Havilland Canada DHC-6 ““Twin Otter”” crashes into Marta Hill while trying to land at Coclesito, Panama, in bad weather. [1]

August 1981

  • August —Iran's religious leaders discover the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force's complicity in the escape of former President of Iran Abulhassan Banisadr from the country. They purge half of Iran's American-trained air force officers, causing the air force's operational strength to drop well below 100 aircraft, end virtually all air force training flights, and require religious approval of all Iranian air force operations and the allocation of only enough fuel to allow specific missions to be flown. Through the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the Iranian air force will not recover from this purge. [1]

  • August 3 —In violation of American law, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization declares a strike by the almost 13,000 air traffic controllers in the United States. [1]

  • August 5 —After only 1,300 air traffic controllers comply with his order to return to work, President Ronald Reagan fires the 11,345 controllers who had ignored the order and bans them from service in the U.S. federal government for life. [1]

  • August 13 —All 13 people on board die when a Bristowl Helicopters Westland Wessex 60 helicopter carrying workers from the offshore Leman Gas Field to Bacton Gas Terminal at Bacton, Norfolk, England, loses power and crashes into the North Sea. [1]

  • August 19 —Indian Airlines Flight 557, a HAL 748, is damaged beyond repair when it overruns the runway at Mangalore Airport at Mangalore, India, but all 26 people on board - among them Karnataka state and future Indian government official Veerappa Moily - are uninjured. [1]

  • August 19 —Two United States Navy Grumman F-14 “Tomcats” of Fighter Squadron 41 (VF-41) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) shoot down two Sukhoi Su-22 &rlquo;Fitters” of the Libyan Air Force over the Gulf of Sidra 60 nautical miles (111 km) off the coast of Libya using AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air missiles. They are the first and second of the five kills Grumman F-14 “Tomcats” will score during the Tomcat's career in U.S. Navy service. [1]

  • August 22 —Far Eastern Air Transport Flight 103, a Boeing 737-222, suffers explosive decompression shortly after departure from Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, after severe corrosion leads to a pressure hull rupture. The plane breaks up in mid-air and crashes, killing all 110 people on board. [1]

September 1981

  • September 3 —McDonnell Douglas delivers the 1,000th DC-9 produced; it was ordered by Swissair. [1]

  • September 10 —British Airways CEO Roy Watts announces a financial crisis for the airline. He states that the company is losing £UK 200 per minute. [1]

  • September 30 —An Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” crashes during a flight from the Iran-Iraq War's front line to Tehran, killing Iran's minister of defense, his chief of staff, the Iranian Army chief of staff, and the regional commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. [1]

October 1981

  • October 1 —Three Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” fighter-bombers bomb the Kuwaiti oil facility at Umm al-Aish, prompting Kuwait to recall its ambassador to Iran. [1]

  • October 2 —President of the United States Ronald Reagan restarts the Rockwell B-1 “Lancer” bomber program by announcing the order of 100 North American Rockwell B-1B “Lancer” for the United States Air Force. [1]

  • October 6 —NLM “CityHopper” Flight 431 encounters a tornado, loses a wing, breaks up in mid-air, and crashes near Moerdijk, Netherlands. All 17 people aboard the Fokker F-28 “Fellowship 4000&rduo; die. [1]

  • October 19 —Iraqi Air Force aircraft attack merchant ships in the Persian Gulf near the Iranian port of Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni, damaging the Liberian bulk carrier Al Tajdar with a missile hit and seriously damaging the Panamanian bulk carrier Moira with a bomb. Both ships later are repaired. [1]

  • October 22 —The United States Government de-certifies the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization because of its illegal August 1981 strike. [1]

  • October 25 —Iraqi Air Force aircraft make a missile attack on the Indian bulk carrier Rashi Vish Wamitra in the Persian Gulf near the Iranian port of Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni, starting a fire which causes heavy damage to the ship. [1]

November 1981

  • November 13 —Ben Abruzzo and his crew make the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean by balloon, in the “Double Eagle V”. [1]

  • November 21 —The United States bans the Soviet airline Aeroflot from flying in its airspace after an Aeroflot flight strays from its supposed flight path and overflies American military installations. [1]

December 1981

  • December 1 —A chartered Yugoslavian McDonnell Douglas MD-81 operating as Inex-Adria Aviopromet Flight 1308 crashes into Mount San Pietro on Corsica, killing all 180 people on board. [1]

  • December 5 —December 8 —Jerry Mullins sets a closed-circuit distance record for piston engine aircraft, piloting the “Javelin Phoenix”, a modified Bede BD-2, a distance of 8,695.9 nautical miles (10,007.1 mi; 16,104.8 km) in a circuit between Oklahoma City and Jacksonville. [1]

  • December 12 —Maxie Anderson and Don Ida launch from Luxor, Egypt, in the balloon Jules Verne to begin the first serious attempt at a circumnavigation of the world by balloon. They are forced to end their attempt on December 14 at Hansa, India, after a flight of 2,676 miles (4,316 km). [1]

  • December 25 —U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Thomas Tiller is rescued from the Atlantic Ocean by a boat. He had floated at sea for seven days after his plane, an McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II”, had crashed on December 18. [1]

1981 First Flights

  • January 1 —LearAvia “Lear Fan” (N626BL). [1]

  • February 26 —Aerotec “Tangará”. [1]

  • February 28 —Valentin “Taifun” (D-KONO). [1]

  • March 28 —Dornier 228 (D-IFNS). [1]

  • April 10 —SIAI Marchetti S.211 (I-SITF). [1]

  • April 15 —Dassault-Breguet “Guardian”. [1]

  • June 1 —Shorts 360. [1]

  • June 2 —Grinvalds “Orion”. [1]

  • June 18 —Lockheed F-117 “Nighthawk”. [1]

  • July 4 —Schleicher ASW 22. [1]

  • September 3 —BAe 146 (G-SSSH). [1]

  • September 26 —Boeing 767 (N767BA). [1]

  • November 5 —McDonnell Douglas AV-8B “Harrier II” (BuNo 161396). [1]

  • December 11 —OMAC I. [1]

  • December 17 —Hughes “NOTAR”. [1]

  • December 17 —NAC “Fieldmaster”. [1]

  • December 30 —Akaflieg Stuttgart FS-31. [1]

1981 Aircraft Entering Service

  • 1981 —Bell EH-1H with United States Army. [1]

  • 1981 —Vympel R-33 anti-aircraft missile. [1]

  • January 18 —Bell 412. [1]

  • April —Beechcraft “Super King Air Model B200”. [1]

  • December 7 —Mitsubishi F-15J with Japan Air Self-Defense Force. [1]

1981 Aircraft Retiring from Service

  • Second half of 1981 —Avro Canada CF-100 “Canuck” by the Canadian Armed Forces. [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1981 in Aviation

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