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On This Day: 1978

Aviation events for 1978

January 1: British Aircraft Corporation, Hawker Siddeley, and Scottish Aviation are absorbed into British Aerospace. Read more...
 
January 1: Air India Flight 855, a Boeing 747, crashes into ocean near Bombay, killing 213. Read more...
 
January 11: The American Jet Industries’ Hustler executive transport makes its first flight.
 
January 18: Thiokol conducts 2nd test firing of space shuttle's SRB.
 
January 24: Kosmos 954, a nuclear-powered Soviet reconnaissance satellite, falls out of orbit and breaks up, scattering bits of its nuclear reactor along a 300-mile swath of northern Canada. A U.S.-Canada task force manages to recover only 12 pieces and 1% of the nuclear fuel after searching a 48,000 sq. mi. area, for which the USSR is mailed a bill for $6,041,174.70.
 
February 6: Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada introduces the airline Deregulation Act, which would be passed the next October.
 
February 11: Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314, a 737-200 (C-FPWC) crashes at Cranbrook Airport in British Columbia, after an aborted landing in which the reverse thrusters did not retract properly. The aircraft was trying to avoid a snowplow on the runway, which was faulted to ATC. There were 7 survivors and 42 fatalities on the aircraft.
 
February 14: First flight of the Cessna 303.
 
March 2: Soyuz 28 carries 2 cosmonauts (1 Czechoslovakian) to Salyut 6.
 
March 5: The Landsat 3 launches, third in a series of photo satellites. Its Earth-snapping work would last five years until March of 1983.
 
March 5: Venera 14, a Soviet space probe for intended to explore Venus, arrives at its destination. The aircraft has a twin-ship, Venera 13, which launched and also arrived 5 days prior.
 
March 10: First flight of the Dassault Mirage 2000 2000-01.
 
March 25: Burma Airways Fokker F-27 Friendship (XY-ADK) crashes into a paddy field immediately after takeoff from Okaraba, Burma, killing all 48 on-board.
 
March 31: USSR launches Kosmos 1000 navigational satellite.
 
April 20: A Korean Air Lines Flight 902, a 707, was hit by a missile fired from a Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 interceptor after it had entered Soviet airspace. This caused a rapid decompression of the fuselage which killed two passengers. The 707 made an emergency landing on a frozen lake near Murmansk, USSR.
 
May 5: National Airlines Flight 193, a Boeing 727, landed 2750 feet short of the runway at Pensacola Regional Airport into Escambia Bay, killing 8 people. Read more...
 
May 20: McDonnell Douglas delivers its 5,000th F-4 Phantom aircraft, twenty years after the first flight of the prototype.
 
May 20: Pioneer Venus 1, USA Venus Orbiter, launched. Pioneer Venus 1 (also known as Pioneer 12) arrived at Venus on December 4, 1978. It operated continuously from 1978 until October 8, 1992, when contact was lost with the spacecraft. It was expected to burn up in the Venusian atmosphere 6 days later. The orbiter was the first spacecraft to use radar in mapping the planet's surface. The electron field experiment detected radio bursts presumably caused by lightening. No magnetic field was detected. From 1978 to 1988 the amount of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere decreased by 10%. The reason for this decrease is unknown. Perhaps a large volcano erupted just before the orbiter arrived and the amount of sulfur dioxide slowly declined.
 
May 31: USSR launches Kosmos 1000 navigational satellite.
 
June 28: The Dassault Super Étendard enters operational service with the Aéronavale.
 
July 10: Airbus Industrie announces a decision to proceed with development of the A300B10, a shortened version of the A300 with a capacity of 225 passengers, compared to 281 on the B2 and B4. The designation is later changed to the A310.
 
July 14: After receiving orders from United Airlines, Boeing begins full-scale development of the Boeing 767.
 
July 19: Frank Haile Jr and William Wisner fly two Beechcraft Bonanzas around the world in formation.
 
August 17: Ben Abruzzo and crew make the first transatlantic crossing by balloon, taking 5 days 17 hours to travel from Presque Island, Maine USA to Evreux, France in the Double Eagle II.
 
August 20: First flight of the British Aerospace Sea Harrier prototype, XZ450.
 
September 13: Rollout of the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A Hornet.
 
September 13: First flight of the Aérospatiale Super Puma F-WZJA.
 
September 25: Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182, a Boeing 727 airliner, collides with a Cessna 172 over San Diego, California. There were no survivors on either plane, and with the seven fatalities on the ground the total number of lives lost was 144, making it the worst air disaster in California history to date.
 
Foreningen Le Caravelle Club Aerospatiale SE-210 Caravelle III (OH-LSB) at  Stockholm - Arlanda, Sweden
September 30: Finnair Flight 405, a Caravelle flying from Oulu to Helsinki, is hijacked by an unemployed building contractor. After forcing the pilot to fly to Amsterdam and Helsinki, the hijacker's demands are met and he agrees to turn himself in - after spending 24 hours at home with his wife. The story would later form the basis of the Finnish movie "Kaappari" ("The Hijack That Went South"). Read more...
 
November 8: First flight of the Canadair CL-600 Challenger C-GCGR-X.
 
November 9: First flight of the AV-8B Harrier II.
 
November 18: First flight of the McDonnell Douglas YF-18A Hornet 160775.
 
November 19: First flight of the Beriev A-50.
 
November 20: The US Air Force orders development of the KC-10 Extender.
 
November 28: United Airlines Flight 173 crashes in Portland, Oregon. Aircraft ran out of fuel while crew trouble shooted landing gear indicator problems.
 
December 19: The first solar-powered aircraft, Solar One, makes a successful flight in England.
 
December 23: Alitalia Flight 4128, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 registered I-DIKQ, crashes while on approach to Palermo International Airport. the pilots had descended prematurely, thinking they were closer to the airport than they were. They leveled off at 150- feet above the Tyrrhenian Sea when a change in wind speed caused the right wing to clip the water. Fishing boats retrieved the 21 survivors out of the water, whereas 108 people died.---Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 162, a tire on an L-1011 exploded, penetrating the passenger cabin. The L-1011 lost cabin pressure and two passengers fell out of the aircraft.
 
 
 

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