On This Day in Aviation History

January 31, 2011

On This Day in Aviation History: January 31st

Ham the Chimp shakes hands in his car-seat with recovery ship USS Donner’s commander after his sub-orbit flight.

Ham the Chimp shakes hands in his car-seat with recovery ship USS Donner’s commander after his sub-orbit flight.

2001 – JAL Flight 907 and JAL Flight 958 (Boeing 747-400 JA8904 and DC-10-40 JA 8546, respectively) come within 300 feet of one another at a height of 39,000ft over Shizouka, Japan. The error, caused by air traffic control error, forces the 747 to dive in order to avoid a collision. Had they crashed, it might have killed 677 people.

2000 – Alaska Airlines Flight 261, an MD-83 (N963AS) crashes into the Pacific Ocean, not far off the coast from LAX. The crash would be attributed to poor lubrication of a jackscrew which caused loss of control of the vertical stabilizer. The aircraft entered a dive from 31,500ft down to 23,000ft in 80 seconds. The crew spent the next 10 minutes trying to solve the problem while planning an LAX diversion when a second, fatal dive, initiated. All 88 people on the aircraft died.

1971Apollo 14, the eighth Apollo mission and third manned moon-flight, launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

1961Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2), carrying Ham the Chimp, carries the first hominid into sub-orbit. The flight lasted just over 16 minutes, where Ham operated a lever, as trained, to prove that tasks could be performed in space.

1958Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite is launched.

1957 – On the first test flight of the Douglas DC-7B (N8210H), the aircraft collides with a USAF F-89, over Sunland, California. The two DC-7B crewmembers died, and only one of the F-89’s crew safely ejected. The planes hit the ground in a schoolyard, killing 3 more people.

1949 – Pan Am receives the first Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.

About the Author

Phil Derner Jr.
Phil Derner founded NYCAviation in 2003. A lifetime aviation enthusiast that grew up across the water from La Guardia Airport, Phil has aviation experience as a Loadmaster, Operations Controller and Flight Dispatcher. He owns and operates NYCAviation and performs duties as an aviation expert through writing, consulting, public speaking and media appearances. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.



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