On This Day in Aviation History

February 15, 2012

February 15th in History: Sabena Plane Crash Kills US Figure Skating Team, First Woman Flies Helicopter Cross-Country

US Figure Skating Team seen boarding doomed Sabena Flight 548

2011 – United Airlines temporarily grounds all 96 of its Boeing 757 aircraft to check on a recent software upgrade that had not been performed to spec.

1970 – An almost brand new new Dominicana de AviaciĆ³n McDonnell Douglas DC-9 (HI-177) crashes into the sea after takeoff from Santo Domingo, killing all 102 people on board. The crash would be blamed on fuel contamination, which caused both engines to fail.

1965 – Mrs. Guy Maher lands in Medford, NJ in a Hughes 300, completing the U.S.’s first transcontinental helicopter flight by a woman.

1961 – Sabena Flight 548, a Boeing 707-300 (OO-SJB) enroute to Brussels, Belgium from Idlewild Airport in New York, crashes on approach to Brussels, killing all 72 people on board, including the entire United States Figure Skating Team which had been enroute to the World Championships in Prague. A farmer on the ground was also killed, while another lost a leg to flying shrapnel. It is the first fatal crash of the Boeing 707, which had entered service a little over two years earlier. The cause is never precisely determined, but the most likely culprit is thought to have been a malfunction of the stabilizer adjusting mechanism.

1954 – The U.S. and Canada agree to build the Distant Early Warning Line, or DEW Line, a system of radar stations stretching across Canada and beyond, from Alaska to Iceland, designed to detect incoming Russian bombers.

1938 – Six US Army Air Corps B-17 Flying Fortresses begin a goodwill tour of Latin America, traveling 12,000 miles to Lima, Buenos Aires, Santiago and back.

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