On This Day in Aviation History

April 2, 2012

April 2nd in Aviation History: France Establishes World’s First Air Force, Boeing 777 Sets Speed Record

A painting by Jean Baptiste Mauzaisse depicts French and Austrian forces at the Battle of Fleurus with the balloon l'Entreprenant in the background.

2004 – Noted aeronautical engineer John Argyris passes away in Stuttgart at the age of 90.

1997 – A Rolls-Royce Trent-powered Boeing 777-200ER lands in Seattle to set a new eastbound around-the-world average speed record of 553 mph. During the trip, the plane flew Seattle to Kuala Lumpur nonstop, setting a nonstop flight distance record of 12,455.34 miles.

1987 – A Royal Air Force Vickers VC-10 lands in Perth 16 hours and 1 minute after leaving England, setting a new UK-Australia speed record.

1986 – A bomb explodes onboard TWA Flight 840, a Boeing 727-200 (N54340) flying from Rome to Athens. Four people are ejected from the plane and killed, and nine injured, but the plane lands safely. A Lebanese woman hired by terrorist Abu Nidal is later convicted of planting the plastic explosive device under a seat cushion during an earlier flight.

1984 – Rakesh Sharma becomes the first Indian to visit space, as a Cosmonaut aboard Soyuz T-11.

1937 – Aircraft manufacturer Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, better known as SAAB, is founded in Sweden.

1794 – The French Army sets up the world’s first military air force, using the balloon Entreprenant for reconnaissance of Austrian forces during the Battle of Fleurus.

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