2002 Master Index 2004

2003 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events

January 2003

  • 8 January — The Turkish Airlines Avro RJ100 Konya, operating as Flight 634, crashes in thick fog while on final approach to land at Diyarbakir Airport in Diyarbakir, Turkey. The plane breaks into three pieces and catches fire, killing 75 of the 80 people on board and seriously injuring all five survivors. [1]

  • 8 January — Air Midwest Flight 5481, a Beechcraft 1900D operating as a US Airways Express flight, crashes into a US Airways hangar on takeoff from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport at Charlotte, North Carolina, killing all 21 people on board and injuring one person on the ground. The accident investigation determines that the crash resulted from improper maintenance and because the aircraft was overweight, Air Midwest having used Federal Aviation Administration-approved estimated passenger weight tables that had not been updated since 1936, when the average weight of an American passenger was 20 pounds (9 kg) lighter than in 2003. [1]

February 2003

  • February — Fina Air begins services. [1]

  • 1 February — The Space Shuttle “Columbia” disintegrates on reentry after 16 days in space, killing its entire crew of seven. [1]

  • 5-9 February — Aero-India show is held at Bangalore. [1]

May 2003

  • 1 May — The USN Sea Control Squadron 35 (VS-35) Lockheed S-3A “Viking” antisubmarine aircraft 159387 brings President George W. Bush aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in the Pacific Ocean off California, where Bush gives his “Mission Accomplished” speech about “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Bush becomes the first U.S. President to make an arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier in a fixed-wing aircraft. While the U.S. President is aboard, the Lockheed S-3A “Viking” uses the call sign “Navy One;” it remains the only aircraft ever to have done so. [1]

  • 25 May — Boeing 727-223 (N844AA) is stolen from Quatro de Fevereiro Airport in Luanda, Angola. Ben Charles Padilla, who is suspected of having been at the controls, disappears at the same time. Despite a worldwide search by police and intelligence agencies, neither the plane nor Padilla are ever found. [1]

  • 29 May — A man attempts to hijack Qantas Flight 1737, a Boeing 717-200 with 52 other people on board, shortly after taking off from Melbourne Airport in Melbourne, Australia, hoping to crash the plane into Australia's Walls of Jerusalem National Park in Tasmania, which he believes will release the Devil from his lair and bring about Armageddon. He injures two flight attendants before being subdued by other passengers. [1]

  • 30 May — The final commercial flight of an Air France “Concorde” takes place. [1]

June 2003

  • 26 June — The NASA “Helios” prototype unmanned aerial vehicle breaks up in flight and crashes into the Pacific Ocean about 10 miles (16 km) west of Kauai, Hawaii, during a remotely piloted systems checkout flight in preparation for an endurance test scheduled for July. [1]

July 2003

  • 8 July — Sudan Airways Flight 139, a Boeing 737-200, crashes at Port Sudan, Sudan, killing 116 of the 117 people on board. A two-year-old boy is the only survivor. [1]

  • 26 July - 3 August — The 13th FAI World Rally Flying Championship takes place in Rustenburg, South Africa. the individual winners are:

    1. Nigel Hopkins and Dale de Klerk (South Africa)

    2. Janusz Darocha and Zbigniew Chrzaszcz (Poland)

    3. Nathalie Strube and P. Sicard (France)

    The team winners are:

    1. South Africa

    2. France

    3. Poland. [1]

August 2003

  • 11 August — The “Spirit of Butts Farm” completes the first flight across the Atlantic by a computer-controlled model aircraft. The flight also sets two world records for a model aircraft, for duration (38 hours 53 minutes) and for non-stop distance (1,883 statute miles/3,038 km). [1]

  • 26 August — Colgan Air Flight 9446, a US Airways Express Beechcraft 1900D on a repositioning flight with no passengers aboard, crashes in the water off Yarmouth, Massachusetts, immediately after takeoff from Barnstable Municipal Airport in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, due to a maintenance error. The two-man crew dies. [1]

September 2003

  • ? September — Skip Holm, flying the modified North American P-51D “Mustang“ ‘Dago Red’, sets a new closed-course piston-engine speed record of 507 mph (816 km/hr) at the Reno Air Races outside Reno, Nevada. [1]

  • 14 September — The USAF “Thunderbirds” flight demonstration team's No. 6 solo aircraft crashes into the tarmac at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, while attempting its initial maneuver at the Gunfighter Skies 2003 air show. The pilot ejects safely just moments before impact. Although the desert terrain is similar, the ground elevation at Mountain Home Air Force Base is over 1,000 feet (305 meters) higher than at the “Thunderbirds'” home base at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and pilot error (insufficient altitude) is determined as the cause. The pilot is reassigned to the Pentagon. [1]

October 2003

  • 15 October — Yang Liwei becomes the People's Republic of China's first man in space. [1]

  • 24 October — “Concorde” makes its last scheduled commercial flight. [1]

November 2003

  • 22 November — The DHL shootdown incident in Baghdad. [1]

  • 26 November — The last “retirement” “Concorde” flight. [1]

December 2003

  • 17 December — The 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers in the Wright Flyer is celebrated as the 100th birthday of aviation. [1]

  • 17 December — Scaled Composites “SpaceShipOne” becomes the first privately built, manned aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound,. [1]

  • 25 December — UTA Flight 141, a severely overloaded chartered Boeing 727-223 (3X-GDO), fails to become airborne during its takeoff attempt from Cadjehoun Airport in Cotonou, Benin. It runs off the end of the runway and crashes on a beach along the Bight of Benin, killing 151 of the 163 people on board. All 12 survivors as well as two people on the ground are injured. Newspaper reports create rumors that the Boeing 727 (N844AA), which had disappeared after being stolen in May, but the rumors prove unfounded; the accident aircraft is 3X-GDO. [1]

2003 Aircraft First Flights

  • 6 March — Bell/Agusta BA609. [1]

  • 7 March — HAL HJT-36. [1]

  • 29 March — Ullmann 2000 “Panther” prototype (N202KT). [1]

  • 20 May — Scaled Composites “SpaceShipOne” (first captive flight, unmanned). [1]

  • 29 May — Van's Aircraft RV-10 prototype (N410RV). [1]

  • 28 July — Adam A700 “AdamJet”. [1]

  • 29 July — Scaled Composites “SpaceShipOne” (first manned captive flight). [1]

  • 1 August — First successful supersonic flight of the HAL Light Combat Aircraft's (LCA's) first technology demonstrator, TD-1. [1]

  • 7 August — Scaled Composites “SpaceShipOne” (first free-flight). [1]

  • 17 December — Scaled Composites “SpaceShipOne” (first powered flight). [1]

Works Cited

  1. Timeline and History: Wikipedia. 2003 in Aviation

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