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On This Day: 1974

Aviation events for 1974

January 20: First flight of the General Dynamics YF-16 72-01567.
January 30: Pan Am Flight 806, a Boeing 707-321B (N454PA) crashes on approach to Pago Pago International Airport in American Samoa. The crash was attributed to the flight crew not realizing their excessive descent rate in time to correct for it, ultimately killing 97 of the 101 aboard.
February 5: Mariner 10 - USA Mercury/Venus Flyby - 526 kg - (November 3, 1973 - March 24, 1975) flew past Venus for a gravity assist to the planet Mercury. Mariner 10 was the first dual planet mission. Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to have an imaging system. It recorded circulation in the Venusian atmosphere and showed the temperature of the cloud tops to be -23°C. Mariner 10 flew past Mercury 3 times on March 29, 1974, September 21, 1974, and March 16, 1975. These three encounters produced over 10,000 pictures with 57% planet coverage. It recorded surface temperatures ranging from 187°C to -183°C on the day and night sides. A weak magnetic field was detected but it failed to detect an atmosphere. Mariner 10 is now in a solar orbit.
February 8: Skylab 4's astronauts land.
February 11: Titan-Centaur Test launch fails.
February 12: Mars 5 - USSR Mars Orbiter entered into orbit around Mars. It acquired imaging data for the Mars 6 and 7 missions.
February 17: US Army Private Robert K. Preston steals a helicopter and hovers it above the White House for 6 minutes. He is then chased by Maryland State Police choppers and eventually shot at by Secret Service. He later explains that he wanted to prove that he was a skilled pilot after having been rejected by the Army’s flying program.
February 18: NASA launches Italian satellite San Marcos C-2 (235/843 km).
February 22: An unemployed tire salesman named Samuel Byck attempts to hijack a Delta Air Lines DC-9 at Baltimore/Washington International Airport using a .22 caliber handgun and a suitcase filled with gasoline bombs. Byck’s objective: To crash the plane into the White House and assassinate President Richard Nixon. The plane never leaves the gate, though he does shoot and kill a police officer and one of the pilots and wounds the other pilot before being wounded by police and then committing suicide.
March 3: In the world’s worst air disaster, a DC-10-10 of Turkish Airlines loses an aft cargo door after taking off from Paris en route to London, resulting in a complete loss of control. The aircraft crashes, killing 346 passengers and crew. This is the second time a cargo bay door has been lost from aircraft of this type. As a result, a latch modification becomes mandatory.
March 6: Mars 7 failed to go into orbit about Mars and the lander missed the planet. Carrier and lander are now in a solar orbit.
March 8: Charles de Gaulle Airport at Roissy-en-France is officially opened. The new international airport is located 15.5 miles (25 km) from the center of Paris.
March 12: Mars 6 entered into orbit and launched its lander. The lander returned atmospheric descent data, but failed on its way down.
March 13: Sierra Pacific Airlines Flight 806 strays off course and collides with terrain in Bishop, California. All 36 aboard perish on the Convair CV-440 (N4819C).
March 15: A Sterling Airways Caravelle (OY-STK) caught fire while taxiing to depart in Tehran, Iran. The right main gear collapses, rupturing the fuel line, resulting in the deaths of 15 of the 96 people on the plane.
March 17: An Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-9 is hijacked by a man who is later overpowered, with the aircraft diverting to Boston. The First Officer is killed in the struggle.
March 29: Mariner 10 flew past Mercury.
March 31: British Overseas Airways Corporation ceases operations when it merged with British European Airways to form British Airways.
March 31: British Airways formed.
April 27: Engine number four of an Aeroflot Ilyushin IL-18 (SSSR-75559) suffers an uncontained failure, bringing down the plane near Leningrad and killing all 118 people on board.
May 23: Airbus A300 enters service with Air France.
May 29: Luna 22, USSR Lunar Orbiter, launched. Successfully entered lunar orbit.
May 30: The Airbus A300 enters service with Air France.
June 4: Construction of OV-101, the first Space Shuttle, begins. It later will be named Enterprise.
June 9: The first flight of Northrop YF-17 experimental lightweight fighter is made. It is built to test what might be called the aerodynamics of agility, with all of the factors of weight, materials, and design geared to making it as agile as possible.
August 22: First flight of the Shorts 360 G-BSBH.
September 1: The SR-71 Blackbird sets(and still holds) the record for flying from New York to London in 1 hour, 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds.
September 11: Eastern Airlines Flight 212, a DC-9 (N898FE), fell short of the runway at Charlotte -Douglas International Airport, killing 72 of the 82 onboard, including the father and two brothers of comedian Stephen Colbert. The crash was attributed to the flight crew’s lack of altitude awareness and cockpit discipline.
September 11: First flight of the Bell 206L LongRanger N206L.
September 25: First flight of the Northrop F-5F Tiger II 73-0889.
October 17: First flight of the Sikorsky YUH-60 73-21650.
October 28: First flight of the Dassault Super Étendard.
November 8: First flight of the IA 58 Pucará.
November 14: F-15 Eagle enters service with the 555th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron at Luke AFB.
November 20: Lufthansa flight 540 crashes and burns moments after takeoff, killing 59 people. It was the first major accident involving the Boeing 747.
December 3: First flight of the Big Tail SR-71 (959).
December 4: Martinair Flight 138, a Douglas DC-8 flew into the side of a mountain while on landing approach in Colombo, Sri Lanka. All 191 passengers and crew on board were killed.
December 10: Helios 1 is launched by the US and Germany, later to make the closest flyby of the Sun.
December 23: The Rockwell B-1 Lancer strategic bomber makes its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base. Still in service, the long-range bomber is now the only swept-wing aircraft still in active duty for the United States.

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