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On This Day: 1979

Aviation events for 1979

January 6: The F-16 Fighting Falcon enters operational service with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing USAF.
January 12: Pilatus Aircraft acquires Britten-Norman.
January 17: Clyde Tombaugh, astronomer, discovered Pluto in 1930, died at age 90.
January 21: Neptune becomes outermost planet (Pluto moves closer). Unless a new planet is discovered, Neptune will remain outermost planet since on August 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) formally downgraded Pluto from an official planet to a dwarf planet.
January 30: A Varig Boeing 707 Freighter (PP-VLU) carrying valuable paintings mysteriously disappears over the Pacific Ocean. No wreckage or bodies were ever found. The flight was flown by the same Captain who crashed Varig Flight 820 in July of 1973.
February 12: Air Rhodesia Flight 827, a Vickers Viscount, is shot down by guerrillas between Kariba and Salisbury in South Africa with a Strela 2 missile, killing all 59 on-board.
February 12: Kosmos 1076, 1st Soviet oceanographic satellite, launched.
February 18: NASA launches space vehicle S-202.
February 21: Former astronaut Neil Armstrong climbs to 50,000 feet in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in just over 12 minutes in a Gates Learjet Longhorn 28, breaking five world records for business jets.
February 21: Japan launches Hakucho x-ray satellite and Corsa-B (550/580 km).
February 25: Soyuz 32 carries 2 cosmonauts to Salyut 6 space station is launched.
February 26: The A-4 Skyhawk ends production after 26 years.
February 26: Continental begins codesharing with Air France.
February 26: Last total eclipse of Sun in 20th century for continental US.
March 5: Voyager 1 makes its closest approach to Jupiter at a distance of 172,000 miles.
March 8: 1st extraterrestrial volcano discovered on Io, a satellite of Jupiter.
March 10: The US Air Force sends E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft (a military variant of the Boeing 707) to perform surveillance over Yemen, which is in the midst of a civil war.
March 12: Atlantic Southeast Airlines is founded.
March 15: Pluto again becomes outermost planet when its orbit carries it past Neptune. It lost this status in 2006 when the IAU decided that Pluto is not a planet.
March 17: An Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-104 crashes in Moska-Vnukovo, Russia, killing all 90 on-board. Blame is placed on the crew for failure to request de-icing before departure in an ice storm.
March 20: Columbia flies on Shuttle carrier aircraft to Kennedy Space Center.
March 22: First flight of the Antonov An-12s and An-22s airlift the first Soviet troops into Afghanistan. 5,000 arrive in the first 24 hours.
March 24: Columbia flown on carrier aircraft lands at Kennedy Space Center.
March 25: Qantas operates its last Boeing 707 on a flight from Auckland to Sydney, then becoming the only airline with an all-Boeing 747 fleet. This would hold until 1985 when they receive their first Boeing 767-200.
March 26: An Interflug Ilyushin IL-18 (DM-STL) overruns the runway in Luanda, Angola, killing all 10 occupants after slamming into the ILS localizer antenna.
March 31: The British government announces development and production costs for the Concorde supersonic airliner since November 29, 1962, when agreement was reached with France to design and built the aircraft. Through December 31, 1978, the French government spent a total of £920 million whereas the British spent £898 million. The total cost of £1.818 billion would increase by a further £163 million, before government funding ceased.
March 31: DET 4 at Mildenhall Royal Air Base in England formed. 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. Operational missions flown from DET 4 were called "GIANT REACH."
April 10: Soyuz 33 launched with a Russian and a Bulgarian. Read more...
April 19: First flight of the Learjet 55.
April 28: Air Berlin’s first flight between Berlin and Palma Mallorca.
May 7: Air France is the first airline to operate the Lockheed L-1011-500, a long-range version of the TriStar with shorter fuselage, more powerful engines, and improved aerodynamics.
May 15: First flight of the Dassault Mirage 50.
May 16: New York Airways Sikorsky S-61 tips over while taking on passengers at the Pan Am Building in New York City, killing four. The heliport is permanently closed afterward.
May 18: First flight of the Piper PA-42 Cheyenne.
May 25: American Airlines Flight 191, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, crashed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. During the takeoff roll, the left engine and pylon separated from the wing. The crew continued the takeoff, but wing damage due to the engine separation also damaged the aircraft hydraulic system and caused retraction of some flight control surfaces. The aircraft rolled and crashed shortly after takeoff. All 258 passengers and 13 crew were killed. Two people on the ground were also killed. This is the deadliest accident in the airline's history and the deadliest on U.S. soil.
June 2: NASA launched space vehicle S-198.
June 12: The first man-powered aircraft to cross the English Channel is the Gossamer Albatross, designed and built under the leadership of Paul MacCready. Flown by bicyclist Bryan Allen, it crosses from Folkestone, England to the French coast in two hours, 49 minutes.
June 12: First flight of the Rutan Long-EZ prototype, N79RA.
June 27: Atlantic Southeast Airlines commences operations.
June 27: Israeli Air Force F-15 Eagles shoot down four Syrian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21s.
July 5: French aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer Emile Dewoitine dies at the age of 87.
July 23: The British government announces plans to privatize British Airways and publicly sell British Aerospace shares.
August 14: Hitting 499mph in a specially modified P-51 named Red Baron, Steve Hinton sets a new world speed record for a piston-engined aircraft.
October 18: First flight of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80.
October 27: First flight of the Panavia Tornado ADV.
October 30: Sir Barnes Wallis dies, aged 82.
November 28: Air New Zealand Flight 901, a DC-10 operated sightseeing flight over Antarctica, crashes into Mount Erebus, killing all 257 people on board. Coincidentally it was the 50th anniversary of the first flight over the South Pole.
November 29: an Air New Zealand DC-10 crashes on the Mt Erebus volcano, killing all aboard.
November 30: First flight of the Piper Malibu.
December 12: First flight of the SH-60 Seahawk 161169.
December 16: The British Airways Concorde lands in London after flying from New York in less than three hours (2 hours 58 minutes) at an average speed of 1,172 mph.
December 21: The NASA AD-1 oblique-wing concept demonstrator makes its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base. The plane successfully demonstrated a wing that could pivot obliquely from zero to 60 degrees in flight.
December 25: Antonov An-12s and An-22s airlift the first Soviet troops into Afghanistan. 5,000 arrive in the first 24 hours.

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