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This Day In Aviation History — January
January Aviation Events & Milestones

January 1

  • 1 January 1914 (USA) — The world's first scheduled airplane passenger service operated by an airline company, the “Airboat Line,” begins at 10:00 A.M. when Anthony Janus flies his first passenger from St. Petersburg to Tampa, Florida. The fare for the 22-mile over-water flight was $5 with a surcharge if the passenger weighs more than 200 lbs.

  • 1 January 1914 (USA) — The United States Weather Bureau begins daily publication of a weather map of the Northern Hemisphere designed specifically as an aid to aviation.

  • 1 January 1934 (Germany) — The airline Deutsche Luft Hansa changes its name to “Lufthansa.”

  • 1 January 1944 (USA) — United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe activated.

January 2

  • 2 January 1918 (England) — The British government establishes an air ministry. Lord Rothermere is Secretary of State for Air. Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard is Chief of the Air Staff.

  • 2 January 1942 (USA) — General H. H. Arnold directed establishment of new Air Force later designated 8th AF.

  • 2 January 1942 (Philippines) — Manila and United States Naval base at Cavite captured by the Japanese.

  • 2 January 1953 (England) — The first of an order of about 430 United States North American F-86 “Sabre” fighters, the RAF's first supersonic jet, arrives at RAF Abington, England.

  • 2 January 1989 (USSR) — The Tupolev TU-204, the Soviet Union's first airliner fitted with a fly-by-wire control system, makes its maiden flight.

January 3

  • 3 January 1905 (USA) — In efforts to interest the United States government in the use of airplanes for the military, Wilbur Wright speaks to Congressman Robert M. Nevin, who asks him to prepare a letter for submission to the Secretary of War that Nevin would deliver and endorse. The Army declines the offer.

  • 3 January 1923 (France) — French Lieutenant Thoret makes the first soaring flight of more than 5 hours in a Hanriot HD-14 biplane as he flies with his engine stopped in a slope lift (using hill-side air currents) in Biskra, France.

  • 3 January 1966 (USA) — North American XB-70 “Valkarie” flew for 3 minutes at 2,000 mph.

  • 3 January 1981 (USA) — Pan Am retires the Boeing 707 from its fleet.

  • 3 January 1999 (USA) — NASA's Mars Polar Lander is launched aboard a Boeing “Delta II” booster from Cape Canaveral. The MPL is scheduled to touch down in the Martian southern polar region in December.

January 4

  • 4 January 1952 (USA) — Pan American World Airways inaugurates the first all-cargo service across the North Atlantic with its recently acquired Douglas DC-6A cargo carrier.

  • 4 January 1957 (USA) — Military Air Transport Service completed “Operation Safe Haven” bringing 10,000 refugees to the United States.

  • 4 January 1964 (toward) — Pope Paul VI lands in Amman, Jordan, in a special Alitalia Douglas DC-8. This is the first time that a Pope has used an airplane for an official visit.

January 5

  • 5 January 1943 (North Africa) — Allied Air Forces in Africa activated under Major General Carl Spaatz.

  • 5 January 1959 (England) — The Fairey “Rotodyne,” piloted by W. P. Gellatly and J. P. Morton, sets a world speed record for convertiplanes of 190.9 mph over a 62-mile circuit.

January 6

  • 6 January 1928 (Nicaragua) — Pilot Lt. C. F. Schilt, USMC, lands a Vought O2U-1 “Corsair” in the street of a Nicaraguan village to rescue wounded officers. Eighteen servicemen are rescued and, for his bravery, Lt. Schilt is awarded the Medal of Honor.

  • 6 January 1943 (England) — Major General James Doolittle assumed command of the 8th Air Force.

January 7

  • 7 January 1785 (England/France) — The English Channel is crossed for the first time by air as Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries fly their hydrogen balloon from Dover, England to a forest near Calais, France.

  • 7 January 1929 (USA) — Fokker C-2 “Question Mark”" sets an endurance record for a refueled aircraft (USA), 150 hours, 45 minutes.

  • 7 January 1942 (Philippines) — Japanese attack Bataan in the Philippines.

  • 7 January 1973 (England) — Cameron Balloons Ltd. of Bristol, England, flies for the first time the world's only hot-air airship (G-BAMK) from Wantage, Berkshire.

  • 7 January 1980 (USA) — In San Francisco, a single-engine Mooney 231 sets a nonstop coast-to coast record in 8 hours 4 minutes using only 105 gallons of fuel.

  • 7 January 1981 (China/USA) — A Boeing 747 of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), China's state airline, arrives at JFK Airport, N.Y., from Beijing via Shanghai and San Francisco; this is the first scheduled flight between these two countries since 1949 and inaugurates a weekly CAAC service.

January 8

  • 8 January 1945 (Japan) — The Mitsubishi J8M1 rocket-fighter makes its first flight in Hyakurigahara, Japan.

  • 8 January 1964 (USA) — Air Force Cross posthumously awarded to Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr., the only causality of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

  • 8 January 1982 (France) — The Airbus A300 becomes the world's first wide-bodied airliner to be certified for operation by a flight crew of two.

January 9

  • 9 January 1793 (USA) — Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard in Philadelphia makes the first manned free balloon ascent in America in a hydrogen balloon.

  • 9 January 1923 (Spain) — The first flight of a practical gyroplane or rotorcraft is made by Juan de la Cierva's C-3 “Autogiro,” which is flown by Spenser Gomes in Madrid, Spain.

  • 9 January 1945 (Philippines) — United States Army Air Forces participate in opening of Luzon, Philippines Campaign.

January 10

  • 10 January 1942 (USA) — The United States Army announces the delivery of its first troop-transport gliders.

  • 10 January 1946 (USA) — An Army Sikorsky R-5 sets unofficial world helicopter altitude record of 21,000 feet.

  • 10 January 1982 (USA/Round-the-World) — The Gulfstream III “Spirit of America” sets a round-the-world record for an executive jet of 43 hours, 39 minutes and 6 seconds in Taterboro, New Jersey.

January 11

  • 11 January 1935 (Hawaii/California) — Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman pilot to fly solo between Hawaii and the United States. She takes off from Wheeler Field, Oahu, Honolulu, to fly her Lockheed “Vega” across the eastern Pacific to Oakland, California. Earhart lands after 18 hours 15 minutes.

  • 11 January 1954 (USA) — USAF approves construction of five “Texas Towers” as part of Air Defense System.

  • 11 January 1978 (USA) — The American Jet Industries' “Hustler” executive transport makes its first flight.

January 12

  • 12 January 1866 (England) — The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain is founded in London. It later became the Royal Aeronautical Society, and is still in existence today.

  • 12 January 1929 (USA) — The first United States Air Mail stamped envelopes are available for sale.

  • 12 January 1962 (Vietnam) — The USAF begins “Operation Ranch Hand” in Vietnam, C-123s spray defoliants.

  • 12 January 1970 (USA/England) — Pan Am Boeing 747, on a proving flight from New York, is the first wide-bodied airliner to make a landing at Heathrow Airport in London.

January 13

  • 13 January 1906 (USA) — The first air exhibition of the Aero Club of America opens for eight days in the Sixty-ninth Regiment Armory in New York City. The Wrights are asked to send the motor that powered their 1903 flying machine but can only salvage the crankshaft and flywheel.

  • 13 January 1908 (France) — The first European to fly one kilometer in a circle is Henri Farman in his Voisin-Farman airplane. Farman's 1-minute 28-second flight wins him the Grand Prix d'Aviation

  • Deutsche-Archdeacon race in France.

  • 13 January 1942 (USA) — The Sikorsky XR-4, the USAAF's first helicopter, made its initial flight with its creator, Igor Sikorsky at the controls.

January 14

  • 14 January 1909 (France) — Wilbur Wright, his brother Orville and sister Katharine, having just arrived from America, move to Pau in the south of France after completing flying demonstrations at Camp d'Auvers.

  • 14 January 1935 (USA) — United Air Lines decides to equip its fleet with a de-icing system for airplane wings, following successful tests on a Boeing 247.

  • 14 January 1957 (USA) — The USAF signed at $74 million contract for Convair F-102A “Delta Dagger” supersonic all-weather fighters.

January 15

  • 15 January 1914 (USA) — The first regularly scheduled passenger airline in the United States begins service. The Benoist Company, flying its Benoist flying boat, runs a line between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida.

  • 15 January 1950 (USA) — General of the United States Air Force H.H. Arnold died of heart ailment.

  • 15 January 1991 (Japan/Canada) — The first hot-air balloon to cross the Pacific Ocean takes off from Japan and eventually lands in Canada.

January 16

  • 16 January 1911 (USA) — The first photo reconnaissance flight was unable to locate troops from the air.

  • 16 January 1957 (USA/World Nonstop Flight) — Five Boeing B-52B “Stratofortresses” of the Ninety-third Bombardment Wing, commanded by Major General Archie J. Old, Jr., commander of the United States Fifteenth Air Force, begin “Operation Power Flite,” the first nonstop round-the-world flight by turbojet aircraft.

  • 16 January 1975 (USA) — In “Operation Streak Eagle,” the USAF sets new climb-time records with the McDonnell Douglas F-15A “Eagle” aircraft, operating from Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. The “Streak Eagle” reaches a height of 3,000 m (9,843 ft.) in 27.57 sec., 6,000 m (19,685 ft.) in 39.33 sec., 9,000 m (929,528 ft.) in 48.86 sec., 12,000 m (39,370 ft.) in 59.38 sec. and 15,000 m (42,212 ft.) in 1 min. 17.02 seconds.

January 17

  • 17 January 1906 (Germany) — The second Zeppelin (LZ-2) built makes its first successful flight over Lake Constance, Germany, achieving a speed of 25 mph.

  • 17 January 1991 (Iraq) — Strikes by Boeing B-52G “Stratofortresses” and Lockheed F-117A “Nighthawks” open the Gulf War.

January 18

  • 18 January 1909 (France) — The first book to treat the work and accomplishments of the Wright brothers, “Les Premiers Hommes-Oiseaux: Wilbur et Orville Wright,” is written by François Peyrey (1873-1934) and published in France.

  • 18 January 1911 (USA) — Eugene B. Ely makes the first landing by an aircraft on a ship when he flies his Curtiss pusher biplane from Selfridge Field near San Francisco to a specially prepared wooden deck on the stern of the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania.

  • 18 January 1957 (USA/World Nonstop Flight) — General Archie Old leads a flight of three Boeing B-52 “Stratofortresses” on the first jet powered, round the world, non-stop flight.

January 19

  • 19 January 1784 (France) — The largest hot-air balloon ever made, called “Le Flesselle” by the Montgolfier brothers, makes an ascent at Lyons, France. The balloon's capacity is 700,000 cubic feet and it goes up to 3,000 feet.

  • 19 January 1910 (USA) — Three two-pound sandbags were dropped in the first simulated bomb drop experiment.

January 20

  • 20 January 1913 (USA) — Attempting to establish a new women's altitude record, Bernetta Miller is covered with oil and temporarily blinded when her oil flow indicator smashes. She makes a safe emergency landing in New York.

  • 20 January 1932 (England) — Imperial Airways' Handley Page H.P.42 “Helena&rdquo leaves Croydon, England, for Paris on the first leg of the company's new mail service to Cape Town, South Africa.

  • 20 January 1945 (Mariana Islands) — Major General Curtis LeMay becomes the commander of the USAAF XXI Bomber Command in the Mariana Islands.

  • 20 January 1975 (Iraq) — A Boeing 707, commandeered by three terrorists and flown by a crew of Air France volunteers, lands in Baghdad, Iraq. The terrorists forced the French airline to fly them out of Paris by taking ten travelers hostage the previous day, at Orly airport.

January 21

  • 21 January 1921 (Italy) — The first triple-triplane aircraft, and the first passenger-carrying aircraft designed to carry more than 100 people that actually got off the ground, is launched at Lake Maggiore, Italy. The flight attempt ends in failure when the 55,000 lb. flying boat nose-dives into the lake.

  • 21 January 1952 (Sweden) — The SAAB 210 experimental delta-winged research aircraft makes its first flight in Sweden.

  • 21 January 1976 (England/France/Bahrain/Brazil) — First passenger services by a supersonic airliner are begun, as British Airways and Air France “Concorde” supersonic transports take off simultaneously for Bahrain and Rio de Janeiro.

  • 21 January 1991 (Iraq) — First successful combat search and rescue mission of “Desert Storm.”

January 22

  • 22 January 1943 (New Guinea) — Allies defeat Japanese at Sanananda on New Guinea.

  • 22 January 1959 (USA) — USAF study of UFOs reveal fewer than 1% could be classified unknown.

  • 22 January 1971 (USA) — A USN Lockheed P-3C “Orion” lands at the Patuxent River NAS, Maryland, after a flight of 15 hours 21 minutes from Atsugi, Japan, setting a nonstop distance record for a turboprop-powered aircraft of 7,010 miles.

January 23

  • 23 January 1909 (France) — The first flight of the French Blériot XI, one of the most successful monoplanes designed and built before World War I, is made.

  • 23 January 1918 (France) — First American military balloon ascension made in AEF.

January 24

  • 24 January 1932 (French Indochina/France) — French pilots Paul Codos and Henri Robida land in Paris, France after flying from Hanoi, French Indochina in a record time of 3 days 4 hours.

  • 24 January 1946 (USA) — General Carl Spaatz named Chief of United States Army Air Forces.

January 25

  • 25 January 1921 (USA) — Committee on Law of Aviation of the American Bar Association files an initial report on the necessity of aerial legislation.

  • 25 January 1983 (Sweden) — The Swedish-US SAAB-Fairchild 340 transport, the first aircraft built by collaboration, makes its first flight.

  • 25 January 1990 (USA) — The Lockheed SR-71A “Blackbirds” are retired from SAC service.

January 26

  • 26 January 1910 (USA) — The first practical seaplane is flown. Built and flown by American Glenn Curtiss, it lands and takes off in the waters off San Diego, California.

  • 26 January 1951 (USA) — First flight of the USN's Douglas D-558-2 “Skyrocket” supersonic research aircraft is made. It is launched from underneath its USN's Boeing P2B-1 (B-29) “Superfortress” mother-ship and exceeds Mach 1 in a dive.

  • 26 January 1957 (USA) — The last operational North American P-51 “Mustang” fighter was retired to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, WPAFB, Dayton, Ohio.

January 27

  • 27 January 1894 (England) — Capt. B. F. S. Baden-Powel (the brother of the first Chief Boy Scout) makes a kite ascent from Pirbright Army Camp, England in what appears to be the first use of man-carrying kites outside China.

  • 27 January 1942 (South Pacific) — First Japanese warship sunk by a United States submarine.

  • 27 January 1967 (USA) — Astronauts Grissom, Chafee and White are killed in Apollo 1 fire.

  • 27 January 2002 (USA) — Boeing's 737, the world's most widely use twin jet, becomes the first jetliner in history to amass more than 100 million flying hours. The 737 was launched onto the market in 1965.

January 28

  • 28 January 1871 (France) — The last balloon to leave Paris during the Persian siege takes off with orders for the French fleet to bring food and supplies to replenish the French capital, an armistice having been signed. The flight of the General “Cambronne” ends a period of almost exactly 5 months during which the advantages of balloons were put to efficient use.

  • 28 January 1945 (India) — The Burma Road is reopened.

  • 28 January 1945 (USA) — The USAAF 8th AF observed its 3rd birthday with a 1,000 plane raid on Germany.

January 29

  • 29 January 1908 (Russia) — The “Imperial All-Russia Aero Club” is founded and raises money through public subscription by Imperial decree.

  • 29 January 1920 (USA) — President Woodrow Wilson appoints Orville Wright to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

  • 29 January 1959 (USA) — The first jet passenger service across the United States is begun by American Airlines using Boeing 707 jet airliners.

January 30

  • 30 January 1957 (USA) — Sikorsky's HSS-1 (Model S-58) piston-engine helicopter, developed for anti-submarine operations, makes its first flight.

  • 30 January 1988 (USA) — Boeing's long-range 747SP “Friendship One” returns to Seattle to set a round-the-world record of 36 hours 54 minutes 15 seconds.

January 31

  • 31 January 1918 (Azores) — The Curtiss R-6 twin-float seaplane becomes the first United States built airplane to operate overseas with American forces at Naval Base 13, Ponta Delgado, in the Azores.

  • 31 January 1926 (USA) — An American altitude record of 37,704 feet set at Dayton, Ohio.

  • 31 January 1949 (USA) — Pan Am receives its first Boeing Model 377 “Stratocruiser.”

  • 31 January 1958 (USA) — First United States satellite, “Explorer 1,” launched into orbit.


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