On This Day in Aviation History

April 17, 2012

FedEx Begins Flying Packages, Woman Pilot Circumnavigates Globe: April 17th in Aviation History

The first FedEx aircraft to carry a package, a Dassault Falcon 20 (N8FE), on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (Photo by Christopher Owens)

1973 – Federal Express begins operations, using a fleet of 14 Dassault Falcon 20 jets to ferry parcels from 25 cities to their Memphis hub for the nightly sort and subsequent distribution across the country. The sort has gone on every night since, with the company growing becoming critical to the backbone of the world economy, and the fleet growing to over 700 aircraft flying to about 325 destinations.

1970 – The crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft and its four astronauts return to earth safely after suffering an explosion enroute to the moon.

1970 – Sikorsky flies a CH-53D helicopter from London to Paris to demonstrate that modern helicopters can provide reliable inter-city services.

1964 – Jerrie Mock becomes the first female pilot to successfully circumnavigate the globe, landing her Cessna 280 in Columbus, Ohio, after 29 days of flying covering 22,860 miles.

1944 – Howard Hughes and TWA president Jack Frye fly a Lockheed Constellation from Burbank to Washington, DC, setting a transcontinental speed record of 6 hours 57 minutes.

1926 – Western Air Express begins operations with flights between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. They would later change their name to Western Airlines, flying until 1987 when they would merge with Delta Air Lines.

1920 – The Venezuelan Air Force is formed.

1913 – British aviation pioneer Gustav Hamel flies nonstop from Dover, England to Cologne, Germany in 4 hours 18 minutes aboard a BlĂ©riot XI.

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