On This Day in Aviation History

December 24, 2010

On This Day in Aviation History: December 24th

LANSA Flight 508 survivor Juliane Köpcke sitting among some of the wreckage from the crash years later.
LANSA Flight 508 survivor Juliane Köpcke sitting among some of the wreckage from the crash years later.
Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was killed by one of the men that the Indian government agreed to release in exchange for hostages during the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814.

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was killed by one of the men that the Indian government agreed to release in exchange for hostages during the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814.

1999 – Indian Airlines Flight 814 is hijacked by five Pakistani nationals while enroute from Nepal to Delhi, India. The Airbus A300 (registered VT-EDW) makes stops in multiple countries before finally arriving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where demands are made to release three militants from prison. Indian negotiators agree, and the hostages are later released. One of the militants released is Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Sound familiar? He killed Daniel Pearl and is said to have participated in the planning of the September 11th attacks.

1994 – Air France Flight 8969 is hijacked by four Islamic terrorists while on the ground in Algiers. The Airbus A300 registered F-GBEC sits on the ground for two days before departing to Marsielle, where the French military would be allowed to participate. There, soldiers storm the aircraft, freeing all of the hostages and killing all four hijackers. The firefight and one explosive that went off left the aircraft damaged beyond repair. Three hostages had been killed by the hijackers over the previous days.

1971 – LANSA Flight 508 is struck by lightning while flying over Peru, igniting the fuel tank and leading to structural failure. The Lockheed L-188A Electra (registered OB-R-941) disintegrated, and 91 of the 92 people on-board perished. A 17-year-old girl survived the 2-mile fall with only a gash in her leg and a broken collar bone. Yet she was able to walk through the Amazon for 10 days until being rescued by lumberjacks.

LANSA Flight 508 survivor Juliane Köpcke sitting among some of the wreckage from the crash years later.

LANSA Flight 508 survivor Juliane Köpcke sitting among some of the wreckage from the crash years later.

1968 – 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.

1966 – A United States military chartered Canadair CL-44 crashes into a village in South Vietnam, killing 129 people.

1964 – Flying Tiger Line Flight 282, which had departed out of San Francisco International Airport on its way to JFK, New York, crashes into Sweeney Ridge in San Bruno, Calif. killing all three crewmembers. The Lockheed Constellation, registered N6915C, deviated from its flight plan for an unknown reason where downdraft activity and turbulence prevented the aircraft from climbing.

1963 – New York’s Idlewild Airport is renamed John F. Kennedy Airport in honor of the President, who had been assassinated a month earlier.

Santa Claus: Scaring kids and intimidating NORAD since 1955.

Santa Claus: Scaring kids and intimidating NORAD since 1955.

1955 – NORAD tracks Santa for the first time. This began when a Colorado-based Sears store had published a number for children to be able to call Santa Claus. A typo was made, and the number instead led to the hotline for the Director of Operations at Continental Air Defense Command. Realizing the mistake, the director told his team to give the position of Santa to whomever had called in.

1944 – Over a million Christmas cards are dropped over the Philippines by aircraft from the 43rd Bombing Group that read “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 1944 – General Douglas MacArthur.”

Pretty wild watching GIGN teams surf air-stairs to raid Air France 8969…