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On This Day: 1960

Aviation events for 1960

January 1: Fiji Airways is reconstituted, becoming equally owned by BOAC, Qantas, and Tasman Empire Airways. Read more...
January 6: National Airlines Flight 2511, a Douglas DC-6B (reg N8225H), explodes over North Carolina while from flying from JFK to Miami. A bomb had detonated on the aircraft, which ultimately killed all 34 people on-board. It was suspected—though never proven—that passenger Julian A. Frank from New York City had smuggled the bomb on board. Frank was being investigated for embezzlement at the time, and had purchased life insurance for himself right before the crash.
January 14: First flight of the Piper Cherokee.
January 26: CIA orders an initial five A-12 OXCART aircraft. (Q)
February 11: CIA signs the contract which ordered a full twelve OXCART aircraft. (Q)
February 12: A Delta Air Lines Convair 880 lands in Miami, Florida, from San Diego to set a new transcontinental speed record over the route of 3 hours 31 minutes.
February 13: France detonates its first nuclear weapon.
February 16: The Vought F8U-2N Crusader interceptor makes its maiden flight in Dallas, Texas.
February 29: First flight of the Beechcraft Baron.
March 3: The longest nonstop flight ever made by a Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft is completed when a Vickers Valiant B.Mk.1 (serial no.XD858) piloted by Sqdn. Ldr. J. H. Garstin flies around the British Isles for a total distance of 8,500 miles aided by two inflight refuelings.
March 10: The last flight by a U. S. Air Force-operated North American B-25 Mitchell, when TB-25J-25-NC, 44-30854, the last Mitchell in the USAF inventory, lands at Eglin AFB, Florida
March 11: US Probe, Pioneer 5 Solar Monitor launched. Space probe is now in a solar orbit.
March 14: Within a year of completion of a major expansion program, Chicago’s O’Hare International airport has become the busiest terminal in the US, handling 10.2 million passengers in 1959, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) reports. In the same year it handled 431,600 take-offs and landings.
March 16: KLM opens its first intercontinental jet service, by Douglas DC-8 from Amsterdam to New York.
March 17: Northwest Oreint Airlines Flight 710, a Lockheed L-188 Electra (N121US), crashes in Cannelton, Indiana, killing all 63 aboard. Wing separation and subsequent disintegration of the aircraft spread the wreckage over a very wide area. Multiple theories surround the crash, ranging from a bomb, metal fatigue and severe turbulence as being possible causes.
March 25: The first NASA flight in the X-15 hypersonic research program gets under way when test pilot Joseph A. Walker makes the first of his flights in this aircraft.
April 1: First known weather observation satellite, TIROS I (Television Infra-Red Observation Satellite), launched into orbit by Thor-Able, and took pictures of earth's cloud cover on a global scale from 450 miles above until June 29. TIROS I was hailed as ushering in a new era of meteorological observing.
April 4: Project Ozma begins at Green Bank radio astronomy center.
April 9: The giant Tupolev Tu-114 Rossiya sets a new world speed record for propeller-driven airplanes of 545.07 mph. It was carrying a 55,116-pound payload at the time and flew around an official 3,107-mile closed circuit in the USSR. Read more...
April 10: BOAC resumes scheduled air service from London to Cairo (Egypt), suspended in October 1956 at the time of the Suez Crisis.
April 11: 1st weather satellite launched (Tiros 1).
April 19: First flight of the Grumman A2F-1, A-6 Intruder prototype.
May 1: A Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, piloted by U.S. Air Force Col. Francis Gary Powers, is shot down over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile (SAM).
May 1: Thai Airways International (TG) is founded.
May 7: The Soviet Union exposes an American cover-up about the status of a USAF Lockheed U-2 spy plane that was shot down over Russia six days prior. Assuming the aircraft was destroyed and the pilot killed, the US said a weather recon aircraft was lost, added NASA titles to a different airframe for media photos, and said the aircraft reported problems with oxygen before disappearing. Russia then came forward, adding information previously held back, that the pilot had survived and much of the spy aircraft was intact, proving the American scheme. Pilot Frank Powers would be returned to the United States in February of 1962.
May 12: A USAF C-130 Hercules drops a record 35,000 lb (15,876 kg) by parachute.
May 15: The Soviets launch Sputnik 4.
June 1: Trans-Canada Air Lines begins transatlantic jet service with Douglas DC-8 aircraft on the route Montreal (Canada)--London (UK).
June 29: The English Electric Lightning enters operational service with No. 74 Squadron RAF at RAF Coltishall.
July 1: British United Airways is formed.
July 1: PVO Strany MiG-19 shoots down an RB-47H Stratojet (s/n 53-4281) in international airspace with 4 of the crew killed and 2 captured by the Soviets.
July 6: Sikorsky’s S-62 amphibious helicopter wins federal approval for operation as a commercial passenger aircraft.
July 9: Sabena begins airlifting Belgian nationals out of Congo. Over the next three weeks, 25,711 will fly home.
August 12: NASA launches Echo 1A, the world’s first communications satellite. Essentially a metal balloon, it is used to bounce signals from one ground station to another.
August 16: Captain Joe Kittinger jumps from a gondola, suspended from a balloon, 102,800 feet to the ground using a parachute. He breaks the records for greatest altitude from which a parachute descent had been made and the longest delayed parachute jump.
August 18: A C-119 Flying Boxcar captures a data capsule jettisoned from the Discoverer 14 spy satellite in mid-air.
September 8: President Eisenhower formally dedicates the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
September 17: East African Airways launches jet service between Nairobi and London.
October 4: Eastern Airlines Flight 375, a Lockheed L188 Electra (registered N5533) flying from Boston Logan (BOS) to Philadelphia (PHL) crashes seconds after takeoff due to a bird strike, killing 62 of the 72 on-board.
October 21: First flight of the Hawker P.1127 (tethered flight). Predecessor to the Harrier.
October 25: First flight of the Boeing Vertol Model 107, predecessor to the CH-46 Sea Knight.
October 25: First flight of the Boeing Vertol Model 107, predecessor to the CH-46 Sea Knight.
October 31: BEA retires the DC-3, its last piston-engined airliner serving out of London-Heathrow, from scheduled passenger service.
November 16: First flight of the Canadair CL-44. Read more...
December 6: The first flight of the Sikorsky S-61L helicopter is made in the United States. It serves as a transport craft as well as patrol, rescue, and even anti-submarine duty.
December 16: United Airlines Flight 826 (a Douglas DC-8, reg N8031U) and Trans World Airlines Flight 266 (a Lockheed Super Constellation, reg N6907C) collided in midair over Staten Island in New York City, killing all 128 on both planes and six on the ground. The United aircraft, enroute to Idlewild Airport (now JFK) from Chicago O’Hare, was not only going extremely fast for its altitude, but was also 12 miles off-course due to a faulty VOR receiver. The TWA plane, enroute to LaGuardia Airport from Columbus, Ohio, was broadsided by the Super Connie at approximately 5200 feet and went nearly straight down onto Miller Field, killing all 44 on-board. The United aircraft continued on for a couple of miles before crashing in Park Slope, Brooklyn. One passenger of the 84 on-board, an 11-year-old boy named Stephen Baltz, survived the initial impact but succumbed to his injuries later that day. He said of the city’s snowfall out the window just before the crash, “”It looked like a picture out of a fairy book. It was a beautiful sight.” This crash was the first time a black box was used for a crash investigation. Eerily, the doomed United DC-8 was named after Will Rogers, who himself had died in a plane crash in 1935.
December 21: The first major combat aircraft with variable geometry wings, the General Dynamics F-111, makes its first flight.

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