On This Day in Aviation History: October 15th
1783 - French scientist Jean Pilatre de Rozier becomes the first man to ascend in a tethered balloon. His hot-air Montgolfier balloon soars to 84 feet – the length of the rope holding the balloon.
1913 - The first official airmail flight is completed in France.
1927 - Dieudonne Costes lands in Brazil, becoming the first person to fly non-stop across the South Atlantic. The 2,100 mile flight takes just over 18 hours.
1928 - Graf Zeppelin lands at Lakehurst, New Jersey, completing the first transatlantic airship flight.
1932 - Happy birthday, Air India! Its predecessor, Tata Airlines, completes its inaugural flight, a mail run between Karachi and Bombay using a de Havilland Puss Moth.
1970 - The first successful hijacking of a Soviet airliner takes place, as a Lithuanian man and his son, attempting to defect to the West, commandeer Aeroflot Flight 244, an AN-24. After a shootout with guards in which a stewardess is killed and other crew members wounded, the flight is forced to land in Trabzon, Turkey, where Pranas Brazinskas and his son Algirdas surrender Turkish authorities. The men would be tried and convicted, but released only a few years later. The Turks refused to return them to Soviet authorities, instead granting them amnesty, and soon the men started a new life in the United States. Sadly, Algirdas would be convicted of murdering his then-77-year-old father in California in 2002. Today, Flight 244 is used for one of Aeroflot’s London-Moscow flights.
1997 - The Cassini probe, built primarily to explore the rings and moons of Saturn, is launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a US Air Force Titan IV/Centaur rocket. Twelve years later, spacecraft continues its mission.