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On This Day: July 31

Aviation events for July 31

1948: President Harry S. Truman formally dedicates Idlewild Field, aka New York International Airport (now known as John F. Kennedy International Airport). Along with the ceremonial opening (service actually began July 9th) comes the International Air Exposition, complete with an armada of over 1,000 planes, including bombers and other military aircraft. Over 100,000 spectators drove or took special LIRR trains to Aqueduct race track, where they could take a shuttle bus to the air field to view what is said to have been the greatest display of U.S. air power ever displayed up until that time.
1964: Ranger 7 sends back the first ever close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.
1964: A. H. Parker sets a new sailplane distance record of 1,000 km (621 miles) in a Sisu-1A.
1972: after 41 years in operation, Northeast Airlines completes its final day of service before being merged into Delta Air Lines the following day.
1973: Delta Air Lines Flight 723, a DC-9-31 aircraft (reg. N975NE) acquired in the Northeast Airlines merger a year to the day earlier, crashes on approach to Boston Logan Airport (BOS), killing all but one of the 89 people on board. The lone survivor would succumb to his burns four months later.
1981: The leader of Panama, Omar Torrijos, is killed in the crash of a DeHavilland Twin Otter at Amador near Panama City, Panama.
1984: Venezuelan commandos storm an Aeropostal DC-9 on the ground in Curacao that had been hijacked after departing Caracas three days earlier. The hijackers, a Dominican and a Haitian who had demanded money, are both killed, and all 82 passengers are released unharmed.
1991: The United States Senate passes an amendment to a military spending bill that would remove the ban that prevents women from flying combat aircraft. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney does not oppose the change.
1992: Thai Airways Flight 311, an Airbus A310-300, registration HS-TID crashes into a mountain while attempting to land at Kathmandu (KTM), killing all 113 on board. The accident is blamed on a combination of pilot error and an inexperienced air traffic controller.
1992: China General Aviation Flight 7552, a Yakolev 42D, crashes shortly after takeoff from Nanking, killing 108 of the 126 people on board.
1997: First flight of the Boeing 737-800.
2002: First flight of the Boeing 747-400ER.

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