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On This Day: 1959

Aviation events for 1959

January 4: Luna 1 passes within 6000 km of Moon's surface, first spacecraft to reach the moon.
January 5: 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 8: First flight of the Armstrong Whitworth AW.650 Argosy G-AOZZ.
January 19: The AEC demonstrated a 5-watt radioisotope thermoelectric generator (designated SNAP 3) to President Eisenhower as an example of the potential use of radioisotopes and static thermoelectric conversion for providing long-lived electric power for space.
January 20: First flight of the Vickers Vanguard.
January 27: First flight of the Convair 880.
January 28: Nike-Cajun successfully launched 12-foot-diameter test inflatable sphere to a height of 75 miles over NASA Wallops Island, the sphere inflating satisfactorily.
January 29: The first jet passenger service across the United States is begun by American Airlines using Boeing 707 jet airliners.
February 3: The Day the Music Died: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson are killed when the 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza 35 they had chartered from Dwyer Flying Service to fly from Clear Lake, Iowa to Moorhead, Minn. crashes about five minutes after takeoff. The inexperience of the young pilot, who was also killed, along with poor weather conditions would be blamed for the crash.
February 6: The first successful test firing of the Titan ICBM takes place.
February 7: After much refueling, a Cessna lands in Las Vegas after 65 days in the air.
February 9: The USSR’s R-7 Semyorka (NATO name SS-6 Sapwood) becomes the world’s first operational ICBM.
February 11: A US meteorological balloon achieves a record height of 146,000 ft. carrying a special package of detectors sending information by radio signal to the ground.
February 12: The last Convair B-36 bomber in operational USAF service is retired to Amon Carter Field, where it is put on display; Strategic Air Command is now equipped with an all-jet bomber force.
February 17: A Turkish Airlines Vickers Viscount 739 (TC-SEV) charter flight carrying Turkish prime minister Adnan Menderes and other government officials crashes about 3 miles short of London’s Gatwick Airport after diverting from Heathrow due to heavy fog. Menderes and nine other passengers survive, but the remaining 14 are killed.
February 17: The world’s first weather satellite, Vanguard 2, is launched by the US Navy to measure cloud cover.
February 20: The Avro CF-105 Arrow program to design and manufacture supersonic jet fighters in Canada is canceled by the Diefenbaker government amid much political debate.
February 28: First flight of the Aérospatiale Alouette III.
February 28: Launch of Discoverer 1 (WTR)-1st polar orbit.
March 3: US Probe, Pioneer 4 made a Distant Lunar Flyby. It is now in a solar orbit.
March 4: U.S. Pioneer IV misses Moon and becomes 2nd (U.S. 1st) artificial planet.
March 7: Aviator M. C. Garlow becomes the first to fly a million miles in a jet airplane. Frequent Flier Elite Status FTW.
March 9: 1st known radar contact is made with Venus.
March 31: BOAC commences its first scheduled round-the-world westbound service from London (UK) via New York City, San Francisco, Honolulu to Tokyo (Japan) and onward to London (UK).
April 3: 1st U.S. probe to enter solar orbit, Pioneer 4, launched.
April 5: First flight of the Aero L-29 Delfin.
April 7: Radar 1st bounced off Sun from Stanford, California
April 9: NASA names 1st 7 astronauts for Project Mercury. Read more...
April 13: USAF launches Discoverer II into polar orbit.
April 13: Vanguard SLV-5 launched for Earth orbit (failed).
April 20: Aeroflot puts the 84 to 110-seater Ilyushin IL-18, its first turboprop, into service from Moscow to Alma Ata, Kazakhstan, and Adler, now Sochi, on the Black Sea.
May 4: First flight of the Pilatus PC-6. Read more...
May 19: The first Boeing 707-436 Intercontinental destined for British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) makes its maiden flight, landing at Boeing Field, Seattle, after 1 hour, 11 minutes in the air. BOAC ordered 15 Intercontinentals in 1956.
June 4: Max Conrad flies a Piper Comanche from Casablanca to New York, setting a new lightplane distance record of 7,683 miles (12,365 km).
June 8: First flight of the North American X-15 (unpowered).
June 16: Luna 1959A USSR Attempted Lunar Impact launch failed.
June 17: The first of the Dassault Mirage IV, the first European supersonic jet bomber, is made in France. This high-performance combat aircraft flies at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound).
July 14: First flight of the Sukhoi T-431, prototype of the Sukhoi Su-9.
July 20: The President is briefed on the current designs and gives final approval for a Mach 3+ program to get underway.
July 22: The Sud-Aviation Caravelle enters operational service with Air France.
July 29: The first jetway in the U.S. is installed at the International Airport in San Francisco, California. Designed to protect passengers from the weather when they board or leave the jet plane, it is a powered telescopic or collapsible corridor that extends to the aircraft and connects the plane to the terminal. They are commonplace in all airports today.
July 29: Qantas introduces the Boeing 707 on its Sydney-San Francisco route, the first transpacific service flown by jet.
August 7: The first ever television images of earth from space are transmitted from the Explorer 6 satellite.
August 26: President Eisenhower replaces his airplane with a jet, a USAF VC-137A, which is a modified Boeing 707 jet-airliner. The switch allows the President to cut his travel time in half.
August 26: French flyer Jacqueline Auriol, piloting the Mirage III, becomes the first woman to attain the speed of Mach 2.
August 29: Lockheed and Convair submit proposals for Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft.
September 3: The CIA terminates project GUSTO and asks Lockheed to develop a U-2 follow-on aircraft under the CIA code name OXCART. The CIA authorizes Lockheed to proceed with antiradar studies, aerodynamic structural tests and Engineering designs.
September 14: The Soviet probe Luna 2 crashes onto the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to reach it.
September 15: Scott Crossfield is first to pilot the X-15.
September 17: The North American X-15 rocket plane makes its 1st powered flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
September 18: The Douglas DC-8 enters service with Delta Air Lines and United Air Lines.
October 31: Colonel G. Mosolov sets a new airspeed record of 2,387 km/h (1,483 mph) in the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-66.
November 23: First flight of the Boeing 720.
December 14: Cdr L Flint sets a new altitude record of 103,389 ft (31,513 m) in a F-104 Starfighter.
December 15: Maj J W Roberts sets a new airspeed record of 1,526 mph (2,456 km/h) in a F-106 Delta Dart.

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