On This Day in Aviation History

March 3, 2012

Today in Aviation History: March 3rd

Fossett at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility seated in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer cockpit [Image: NASA]
Fossett at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility seated in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer cockpit [Image: NASA]
2012 – United Airlines and Continental Airlines merge their reservations systems.

2005 – Steve Fossett lands in Salina, Kansas, becoming the first person to fly an airplane around the world solo nonstop without refueling, flying 25,000 miles in 67 hours and 2 minutes.

1991 – United Airlines Flight 585 crashes four miles short of Colorado Springs’ runway 35, killing all 25 people aboard. The Boeing 737-200 (N999UA) experiences a sudden dive, and the initial investigation comes up with nothing. It is later speculated that a rudder power control unit was at fault.

1974 – Turkish Airlines Flight 981 crashes into a forest in Ermemonville, France, killing all 364 people aboard. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10, (TC-JAV) nicknamed the Ankara, suffers from a cargo door latch issue, which results in cargo hold decompression and the downward suction of the cabin floor. Flight control is lost, ultimately resulting in the worst aircraft disaster in history at the time.

1972 – Mohawk Airlines Flight 405, a Fokker Fairchild FH-227B (N78718M) flying from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Albany, crashes into a home on final approach, killing 16 of the 48 people on board and one on the ground The aircraft had experienced a jammed cruise pitch lock on the left engine while on approach, and crews were unable to feather-it properly after shut-down. The subsequent asymmetrical drag from the unfeathered prop caused a reduction in control.

1969Apollo 9, the second manned launch of a Saturn V rocket, launches to spend 10 days in low Earth orbit to test the lunar module’s behavior in space.

1953 – A Canadian Pacific Airlines de Havilland Comet crashes on takeoff from Karachi, Pakistan, killing all 11 aboard and marking the first fatal commercial jetliner crash in history.

1960 – A Vickers Valiant B.Mk.1 (XD858) makes the longest nonstop flight by a Royal Air Force aircraft, covering 8,500 miles after being refueled in mid-air twice.

1950 – Qantas begins flights between Sydney and Tokyo.

1945 – While attempting to take out a German V-2 rocket site, 56 Royal Air Force Douglas A-20 Havocs and B-25 Mitchells accidentally bomb the Bezuidenhout neighborhood of The Hague, Netherlands, killing 511 people and destroying thousands of homes. It is not known if pilots were confused about the coordinates of their actual target or if they received incorrect instructions.

1942 – Ten Japanese warplanes raid the town of Broome in Western Australia, killing 100 people.

1938 – Oil, the source of most jet fuel, is first discovered in what is now Saudi Arabia.

1915 – The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor to NASA, is born.