On This Day in Aviation History

March 9, 2012

March 9th in Aviation History: Space Shuttle Discovery Completes Final Mission

Space Shuttle Discovery touches down on Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, concluding its 39th and final mission

2011 – Space Shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center 12 days after launching on STS-133, completing its 39th and final mission, and the second to last shuttle flight ever.

2011 – AirTran launches service between Fort Myers, Fla. and Bloomington/Normal, Ind.

1989 – Eastern Air Lines files for bankruptcy. The carrier would sputter along for two more years before folding.

1967 – TWA Flight 553, a Douglas DC-9-15 (N1063T) collides with a Beechcraft Baron 55 (N6127V) at an altitude of 4,500 feet over Urbana, Ohio, and crashes into the ground, killing all 25 people on the airliner and the pilot of the Baron. Investigators would determine that the DC-9’s high rate of descent, combined with scattered clouds and haze, prevented the pilots of both planes from seeing each other. The accident would lead to the FAA setting a speed limit of 250 knots below 10,000 feet, as well as the creation of Terminal Control Areas, or Class B airspace, around the nation’s busier airports.

1961 – The Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 9 is launched atop a Vostok-K rocket carrying a dog named Chernushka, a mannequin named Ivan Ivanovich, a guinea pig and some mice. After completing its single intended orbit, the mannequin ejects in a test of an ejection seat, while Chernushka and the other animal astronauts land safely in the capsule.

1945 – The United States Army Air Forces commence Operation Meetinghouse, a two-day bombing campaign of Tokyo. It is later estimated to be the single most destructive raid in history.

1944 – Soviet Air Forces bomb the city of Tallinn, Estonia, during their battle to take control of the Narva Isthmus.

1925 – The Royal Air Force commences Pink’s War, the first ever British air offensive that did not involve ground or naval forces. RAF Bristol Fighters and de Havilland DH.9As bomb mountain strongholds of Mahsud tribesmen in South Waziristan, along British India’s border with Afghanistan.

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