On This Day in Aviation History

April 13, 2012

Pan Am Orders 25 Boeing 747s, Apollo 13 Suffers ‘A Problem’: April 13th in Aviation History

Two Midwest Airlines Boeing 717s, N902ME and sister ship N904ME, taxiing to their gates at LaGuardia Airport. (Photo by Ron Peel)

2010 – Republic Airways Holdings announces that its recently acquired Midwest Airlines brand will be phased out by the fall of 2011 in favor of the Frontier Airlines brand.

2010 – An AeroUnion Airbus A300-200 Freighter (XA-TUE) crashes while attempting to land in Monterrey, Mexico after a flight from Los Angeles, killing all five people onboard and two on the ground. Weather may have been a factor.

1975 – Western Union launches the US’s first commercial, geosynchronous communications satellite, Westar 1, atop a NASA Delta rocket. Built by Hughes Aircraft, Westar 1 is the first of six satellites used by the company to transmit telegrams and mailgrams, and remains operational until 1983.

1970 – “Houston, we have a problem.” An oxygen tank aboard the moon-bound Apollo 13 spacecraft explodes. The crew is forced to abort the mission and return to earth.

1966 – Boeing announces the first order for its new 747 airliner: Pan Am, whose founder Juan Trippe had prodded Boeing to build the jumbo jet, orders 25, with a total value of $525 million.

1960 – The US Navy launches TRANSIT 1-B, the world’s first satellite navigation system. The TRANSIT system is used by the Navy’s submarines and ships until 1991, when it is made obsolete by the Global Positioning System.

1945 – The US Navy uses a radar-guided bomb for the first time, with Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateers dropping a SWOD Mark 9 “Bat bombs” on Japanese ships in Balikpapan Harbor near Indonesia.

1935 – Qantas and Imperial Airways launch the first scheduled connecting service between Brisbane and London.

1928 – A Junkers W 33 airplane named Bremen takes off from Baldonnel Aerodrome in Ireland bound for Mitchel Field, New York in what would become the first successful attempt to cross the Atlantic from east to west. While the ocean crossing is successful, the plane, carrying pilot Captain Hermann Köhl, the navigator, Major James Fitzmaurice, and the owner of the aircraft, Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld, is forced to land on Greenly Island in northeastern Quebec the next day due to weather and navigation problems.

1919 – The Vickers Vimy Commercial, an enclosed, 10-passenger version of a British military biplane, makes its maiden flight.

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