On This Day in Aviation History

February 18, 2012

February 18th in Aviation History: Space Shuttle’s Maiden Test Flight, Terrorists Attack an El Al 707

Space Shuttle prototoype Enterprise separating from the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
Space Shuttle prototoype Enterprise separating from the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. (Photo by NASA)
1981 – Aircraft industrialist Jack Northrop, co-founder of Lockheed Corporation and, later, founder of Northrop Corporation, dies at the age of 85.

1977 – The Space Shuttle Enterprise test vehicle is carried to altitude on top of a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, and then released to glide to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base for its maiden test flight.

1973 – Daniel Bouchart and Didier Potelle land 19,568 feet up on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in an SA 319 B Alouette II helicopter.

1969 – Terrorists attack an El Al 707 on the runway at Zurich, killing a pilot and three passengers

1969 – Hawthorne Nevada Airlines Flight 708 crashes into Mount Whitney, killing all 35 on-board. The pilots of the DC-3 (N17750) were straying from their filed VFR flight plan when they struck. Weather and challenging terrain prevented rescue crews to come upon the wreckage until the following August.

1934 – TWA assembles a team to fly a prototype of the DC-1 from Burbank, California, to Newark, New Jersey, in a record-breaking 13 hours and 4 minutes.

1911 – The first airmail is carried by an aircraft. Henri Pequet carries 6,500 letters across the Jumna River, from Allahabad to Naini Junction, India, traveling a distance of about five miles.