1985 Master Index 1987

1986 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

January 1986

  • January 9 —The United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Heseltine, resigns amidst a political furore over the future of Westland Helicopters. Two weeks later, Leon Brittan, the Trade and Industry Secretary, also will resign. [1]

  • January 28 —The Space Shuttle “Challenger” is destroyed at launch. [1]

  • January 31 —Boeing completes its purchase of de Havilland Canada. [1]

February 1986

  • February —French Air Force “Jaguar” ground-attack aircraft help the government of Chad beat Back an invasion from Libya by Chadian rebel and Libyan troops. [1]

  • February 6 —Last flight of the Airlink helicopter shuttle service between London Gatwick and London Heathrow Airports. [1]

  • February 12 —United States Navy aircraft carriers commence exercises in the Gulf of Sirte, off the coast of Libya, challenging that country's territorial claims to those waters. [1]

  • February 21 —USAir Flight 499, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31 with 23 people on board, slides off a snow-covered runway while landing at Erie International Airport in Erie County, Pennsylvania, injuring one person. [1]

  • February 25 —A small fleet of American military helicopters evacuates deposed President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos and his entourage from Manila to Clark Air Force Base. The following day, he goes into exile in Hawaii. [1]

March 1986

  • March 24 —Combat breaks out in the Gulf of Sidra between Libyan military forces and an American naval force which includes the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga (CV-60), USS America (CV-66), and USS Coral Sea (CV-43). Two Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 “Flogger” fighters engage in a dogfight with two U.S. Navy Grumman F-14 “Tomcats”, although none of the aircraft involved fire at each other; Libyan forces ashore fire surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) at American aircraft, scoring no hits; and U.S. Navy aircraft attack Libyan radars, SAM sites, and warships, sinking two vessels. [1]

  • March 31 —The center landing gear tire of the Mexicana Boeing 727-264 “Veracruz”, operating as Flight 940, explodes in flight after being inappropriately filled with compressed air instead of nitrogen. Before the plane can reach an airport to make an emergency landing, it breaks in half, catches fire, and crashes on El Carbón mountain near Maravatío, Michoacán, Mexico, killing all 167 people on board. It remains the deadliest aviation accident in Mexican history and the deadliest involving a Boeing 727. [1]

April 1986

  • April 2 —A bomb planted by the Arab Revolutionary Cells terrorist group explodes over Argos, Greece, aboard Trans World Airlines Flight 840, a Boeing 727-231 with 122 people on board on a flight from Rome, Italy, to Athens, Greece. The explosion blows four passengers, all Americans and one of them a nine-month-old baby, out of the plane and they fall to their deaths; the rapid decompression of the cabin that follows injures seven other passengers, and the aircraft makes an emergency landing. [1]

  • April 14-15 (overnight) —18 United States Air Force General Dynamics F-111F “Aardvarks” of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing and a United States Navy force of 15 Grumman A-6E “Intruders”, six LTV A-7E “Corsair IIs”, and six McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 “Hornets” from the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga (CV-60), USS America (CV-66), and USS Coral Sea (CV-43) attack Libya in “Operation El Dorado Canyon”, with the loss of one General Dynamics F-111 “Aardvark” and its two-man crew. The U.S. Air Force component of the raid is the first U.S. bomber mission launched from British soil since 1945; refused permission to fly over France and Spain, the General Dynamics F-111 “Aardvarks” make a 2,800-mile (4,500-km) flight down the Atlantic Ocean and across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Libya from England; they must be refueled several times in the air and their round-trip flight takes 14 hours. [1]

  • April 17 —Israeli security guards at London Heathrow Airport discover explosives in the luggage of an Irish woman attempting to board an El Al airliner. Her Jordanian fiancé, Nezar Hindawi, is arrested for planting the bomb without her knowledge in an effort to destroy the airliner. [1]

  • April 18 —French aircraft industrialist Marcel Dassault (born Marcel Bloch) dies at 94. [1]

  • April 28 —Pan American World Airways resumes service to the Soviet Union, using a Boeing 747 from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, New York. [1]

may 1986

  • May 3 —A bomb believed to have been planted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam detonates aboard Air Lanka Flight 512, the Lockheed L-1011-385 “TriStar/City of Colombo”, while it is on the ground at Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, Sri Lanka, with 148 people on board. The explosion rips the plane in two, killing 21 people and injuring 41. [1]

  • May 7 —Self-taught American aircraft designer Al Mooney dies, aged 80. [1]

  • May 16 —The movie “Top Gun”, which glamorizes United States Navy aviation, opens in theaters in the United States. [1]

  • May 26 —Michel Vaujour escapes from a jail in Paris, France, in a helicopter flown by his wife, a newly graduated helicopter pilot. [1]

  • May 29-June 1 —The 5th FAI World Rally Flying Championship takes place in Castellón de la Plana, Spain. Individual winners are 1. Krzysztof Lenartowicz and Janusz Darocha (Poland), 2. Carlos Eugui Aguado and Jose Anizonda (Spain), 3. (tie) Waclaw Nycz and Marian Wieczorek (Poland) and Witold Swiadek and Andrzej Korzeniowski (Poland). Team winners are 1. Poland, 2. West Germany, 3. Spain. [1]

June 1986

  • June 17 —The last flight ever by a Boeing B-47 “Stratojet” takes place when Douglas-Tulsa B-47E-25-DT “Stratojet” (AF 52-0166), restored to flight status for a one-time-only ferry move, flies from Naval Weapons Center China Lake, California, to Castle Air Force Base, California, for museum display. [1]

  • June 18 —Two Grand Canyon sightseeing aircraft - a Helitech Bell 206 helicopter and Grand Canyon Airlines Flight 6, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 “Twin Otter” - collide over Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and crash, killing all five people on the helicopter and all 20 on board the “Twin Otter”. [1]

July 1986

  • July 15 —Flying the Rutan “Voyager” in a circuit over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, Dick Rutan and Jeanna Yeager complete a non-stop, unrefueled flight of 111 hours 44 minutes, covering 11,857 statute miles (19,093 km). The flight breaks the previous unrefueled endurance record of 84 hours 32 minutes set in May 1931 and the previous unrefueled non-stop distance record of 11,336 statute miles (18,254 km) set by a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” in January 1962. [1]

August 1986

  • August 11 —A Westland “Lynx” fitted with special composite rotor blades sets a new helicopter world speed record of 249.09 mph (400.87 km/h) over a 15 km (9.3 mi) course. [1]

  • August 16 —Using a “Strela 2” (SAM-7 “GRAIL”) surface-to-air missile, the Sudan People's Liberation Army shoots down a Sudan Airways Fokker F-27 “Friendship 400M” taking off from Malakai, Sudan, killing all 60 people on board. [1]

  • August 20 —The first test-flight of a propfan engine, the General Electric GE-36, occurs. [1]

  • August 26 —The CFM56 turbofan is flight tested for the first time. [1]

  • August 31 —Aeroméxico Flight 498, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 with 64 people on board, and a privately owned Piper PA-28-181 “Archer” collide in mid-air over Cerritos, California. The collision decapitates all three people on the Archer and both aircraft crash, also killing everyone on board the Donald Douglas DC-9 and 15 people on the ground, a total death toll of 82. Eight people on the ground suffer injuries. [1]

September 1986

  • September 5 —Four armed men of the Abu Nidal Organization storm the Pan American World Airways Boeing 747-121 “Clipper Empress of the Seas”, operating as Flight 73 with 379 people on board, while it is on the ground at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan; the pilots, copilot, and flight engineer escape, grounding the plane. The hijackers soon murder one passenger; after power aboard the aircraft later shuts down, the hijackers open fire on the passengers and crew, prompting Pakistani Army Special Services Group commandos to storm the plane immediately as the hostages evacuate the aircraft via emergency exits. Nineteen more of the hostages die and 120 are injured. [1]

October 1986

  • October 19 —President Samora Machel of Mozambique is among 34 people killed in the crash of the Mozambican presidential plane, a Tupolev Tu-134 “Crusty ”, in the Lebombo Mountains near Mbuzini, South Africa, during a flight from Lusaka, Zambia, to Maputo, Mozambique. There are 10 survivors. [1]

  • October 21 —British Airways is offered for public sale by the British government. [1]

  • October 25 —Piedmont Airlines Flight 467, a Boeing 737-200 with 119 people on board, overruns the end of the runway while landing at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. There are no fatalities, but 34 people are injured, three of them seriously. [1]

November 1986

  • November 3 —While attempting to land at Zahedan Airport in Zahedan, Iran, an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” military transport plane crashes into a mountain, killing all 103 people on board. [1]

  • November 6 —A British International Helicopters Boeing 234LR “Chinook” helicopter crashes into the North Sea while on approach to land at Sumburgh Airport in the Shetland Islands, killing 45 of the 47 people on board and injuring both survivors. It is history's worst civilian helicopter disaster. [1]

December 1986

  • December —During the month, the U.S. Navy conducts the first shipboard trials of the “Pioneer” (later RQ-2 “Pioneer”) unmanned aerial vehicle aboard the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) in the Chesapeake Bay. [1]

  • December 2 —An Air France “Concorde” returns to Paris after an 18-day around-the-world trip with 94 passengers. [1]

  • December 14-23 —The Rutan “Voyager”, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, makes the first non-stop flight around the planet without refueling. The flight covers a distance of 42,432 km (26,366 statute miles), although the international governing body for aeronautic world records, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), accredits the distance as 40,212 km (24,972 statute miles). [1]

  • December 25 —Four men hijack Iraqi Airways Flight 163, a Boeing 737-270C with 106 people on board, during a flight from Baghdad, Iraq, to Amman, Jordan. Airline security personnel try to stop the hijacking, and during the struggle two of the hijackers' hand grenades explode; one of them detonates in the cockpit, causing the plane to crash near Arar, Saudi Arabia, killing 63 of those on board and making it one of the deadliest hijackings in history at the time. A group calling itself “Islamic Jihad,” a widely used name for Hezbollah, claims responsibility. [1]

1986 Aircraft First Flights

  • February 15 —Beechcraft “Starship”. [1]

  • April 27 —Partenavia “Mosquito”. [1]

  • April 25 —Air Tractor AT-503. [1]

  • July 4 —Dassault “Rafale”. [1]

  • August 6 —BAe ATP. [1]

  • August 8 —British Aerospace EAP. [1]

  • September 13 —Piaggio P.180 “Avanti”. [1]

  • November 17 —Mil Mi-34 “Hermit”. [1]

  • November 30 —Fokker F100. [1]

  • December 8 —Beriev A-40 “Albatros” (NATO reporting name “Mermaid”). [1]

  • December 31 —IAI “Lavi”. [1]

1986 Aircraft Entering Service

  • Early 1986 —Antonov An-124 “Condor” with Aeroflot. [1]

  • May —“Pioneer” (later RQ-2 “Pioneer”) unmanned aerial vehicle with the United States Navy. [1]

  • May 1 —Dassault “Mirage IVP” with the French Armée de l'Air. [1]

  • June —Beechcraft “Beechjet”. [1]

  • October 1 —Boeing AH-64 “Apache” with the United States Army 6th Cavalry Brigade. [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 1986 in Aviation

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