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On This Day: 1968

Aviation events for 1968

January 6: NASA’s Surveyor 7 lands on the moon.
January 11: SR-71 (957) lost on final approach to Beale AFB due to a total electrical failure. Crashed on landing approach to Beale AFB. The instructor pilot Robert Sower and the student pilot David Fruehauf both ejected safely.
January 17: Soyuz 4 and 5 completed 1st docking of 2 manned spacecraft.
January 21: A United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress carrying four nuclear weapons crashes in the sea near Thule Air Base in Greenland.
January 24: First A-12 flight over North Korea to observe the USS Pueblo. Pilot Frank Murray. The ship had been seized the day before (23 JAN 68). (Q)
February 7: Lockheed ordered to destroy A-12, YF-12 and SR-71 tooling. (Q)
February 20: A standard Learjet 25 sets a new “time-to-climb” record by climbing to 40,000 feet in 6 minutes 29 seconds.
March 2: USSR launches space probe Zond 4; fails to leave Earth orbit.
March 4: Orbiting Geophysical Observatory 5 launched.
March 5: U.S. launches Solar Explorer 2 to study the Sun.
March 21: First SR-71 (976) operational mission over North Vietnam flown from Kadena Okinawa.Pilot Jerry O’Malley, RSO Ed Payne.
March 27: Yuri Gagarin, in April 1961 first man in space, is killed in the crash of a MiG-15UTI trainer near the Soviet capital Moscow.
April 4: Apollo 6 launched atop Saturn V; unmanned.
April 5: Monarch Airlines commences flight operations.
April 7: Luna 14 - USSR Lunar Probe launched. Luna 14 is in a lunar-solar orbit.
April 25: Apollo 6's SIV-B staqe re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and the Apollo 6 command module is recovered.
April 29: United Air Lines becomes the first carrier to put the Boeing 737-200, a larger capacity version of the standard 737, into service.
May 5: The first non-stop Atlantic crossing by an executive jet aircraft is made as a Grumman Gulfstream II lands in London, England after completing a 3,500-mile (5,633 km) flight from Teterboro, New Jersey.
May 16: A British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Super VC10 on a routine service from Chicago and Montreal makes the airline’s first fully automatic approach and landing in London.
May 25: First flight of the Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
May 29: CMSGT Bill Gormick starts tie-cutting tradition of Habu crews neck-ties.
June 30: First flight of the Lockheed C-5A Galaxy.
July 15: The first direct airline service between the Soviet Union and the U.S. is inaugurated, ten years after negotiations began.
August 14: Los Angeles Airways Flight 417, a Sikorsky 61L helicopter (N300Y) flying from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Disneyland Heliport, crashes in Compton, Calif., killing all 18 passengers and three crewmembers on board. One of the rotor blades had separated from the spindle, causing loss of control.
August 31: Rolls-Royce powers up their new RB211 jet engine for the first time. Designed to power the Lockheed L-1011, future versions would be offered for the Boeing 747 and 757, the Tupolev Tu-204-120 and for re-enginging of the B-52H Stratofortress bomber.
September 8: First flight of the SEPECAT Jaguar.
September 11: An Air France Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle III (registration F-BOHB) operating the Ajaccio, Corsica - Nice sector as Flight 1611 crashed into the sea near Cap d'Antibes off Nice with the loss of all 95 lives on board. The accident occurred while the flight deck crew attempted an emergency landing at Côte d'Azur Airport, following the detection of a fire in the aircraft's rear cabin 21 minutes after takeoff from Ajaccio. The accident investigators believed that the fire had started in the right lavatory and galley area.
September 18: First flight of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-20.
September 18: First flight of the Boeing 737-200C.
September 30: The first Boeing 747 is rolled out.
October 4: First flight of the Tupolev Tu-154.
October 10: SR-71 (977) lost due to a wheel/tire failure on takeoff at Beale AFB on 10 October 1968. RSO Jim Kogler ejected, Pilot Gabrial Kardong rode the aircraft to a stop at the end of the runway. Both crew members unharmed.
October 19: USAF test pilot Major William “Pete” Knight wins the Harmon international aviator’s trophy for “exceptional individual piloting performance”.
October 26: First flight of the Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante.
November 25: FAA Certifies DC-9-20.
November 26: USAF helicopter pilot James P. Fleming rescues a Special Forces unit pinned down by Viet Cong Fire. He is later awarded the Medal of Honor for his Courage under fire.
December 11: First McDonnell Douglas DC-9-20 delivered to SAS.
December 19: The Boeing Company receives its first order, from Israeli airline El Al, for a long-range version of the 747 Jumbo Jet, production of which was announced just under a month ago.
December 24: Humans orbit the Moon for the first time aboard Apollo 8. Their Christmas Eve broadcast is one of the most-watched television programs in history.
December 31: The world’s first supersonic transport aircraft to fly, the Tupolev Tu-144, takes to the air, powered by four 28,660/38,580-lb. s.t. Kuznetsov NK-144 turbofans. Read more...

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