On This Day in Aviation History

January 25, 2012

On This Day in Aviation History: January 25th

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By: Matt Molnar
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The wreckage of Avianca Flight 52 following a crash on January 25, 1990.
The wreckage of Avianca Flight 52 following a crash on January 25, 1990.
2010 – Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409, a Boeing 737-800, crashes into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff from Beirut, killing all 82 passengers and 8 crew. Lebanese investigators would blame the crash on pilot error, while Ethiopia maintains that an explosion occurred on the plane.

2004 - NASA’s Opportunity rover lands on Mars.

2001 – A Rutaca Airlines Douglas DC-3 crashes near Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, killing 24 people.

1995 – Russian radar techs mistake a Norwegian research rocket for a nuclear attack from the United States. President Boris Yeltsin activates his nuclear keys before everyone realizes the rocket is actually heading away from Russia. Russia had been notified of the launch, but failed to inform their radar technicians.

1994 – The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (now known as U.S. Army Strategic Defense Command) and NASA launch the spacecraft Clementine atop a Titan II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Clementine’s objective is to test sensors and components under extended exposure to space conditions, as well as to photograph the Moon and the asteroid 1620 Geographos.

The wreckage of Avianca Flight 52 following a crash on January 25, 1990.

The wreckage of Avianca Flight 52 following the crash on January 25, 1990.

1990 - Avianca Flight 52, a Boeing 707 (reg HK-2016, formerly N423PA) enroute to New York (JFK) from Bogota via Medellin, runs out of fuel and crashes in Cove Neck, Long Island, killing 73 of the 158 people on board. Already low on fuel following 1 hour and 17 minutes of circling due to poor weather, the flight was nearly driven into the ground by windshear on its first approach to Runway 22L and was forced to execute a missed approach. The crew advised air traffic controllers that they were not able to climb and go around for another regular approach because of their fuel situation, but failed to declare a fuel emergency, which would have gotten the flight a priority slot for landing. The engines would flame out shortly thereafter, and the plane glided into a hill in a heavily wooded residential area about 16 miles from the airport.

1983 - The Saab-Fairchild 340 makes its maiden flight.

1930 - American Airways, the entity that would become known as American Airlines, is founded in New York, merging an amalgam of dozens of carriers under a single umbrella. The modern name is adopted four years later.