On This Day in Aviation History

April 24, 2012

Hubble Space Telescope is Launched, Longest Flight by a UAV: April 24th in Aviation History

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2001: A Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV takes off from Edwards Air Force Base for a nonstop flight to Australia in 23 hours, the longest ever flight by an unmanned aircraft and the first UAV to cross the Pacific.

1992: A US Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft on an anti-narcotics mission over Peru is attacked by Peruvian Air Force Sukhoi Su-22s.

1990: Space Shuttle Discovery launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida on mission STS-31 carrying the Hubble Space Telescope.

1985: LOT Polish Airlines launches service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

1982: The CFM International CFM56-2 jet engine makes its first revenue flight on a Delta Air Lines DC-8-62 from Atlanta to Savannah.

1980: Operation Eagle Claw, an attempt by the U.S. Navy to rescue the 52 hostages being held in the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, fails miserably. Eight servicemen are killed as one of the eight Sikorsky RH-53Ds used in the operation crashes in a sand cloud, while another crashes into a C-130 Hercules on the ground in Iran.

1971: Soyuz 10 spacecraft docks with the world’s first space station, Salyut 1. The cosmonauts on board are forced to return to earth without entering the station, however, due to a faulty hatch.

1970: China launches its first space satellite, Dong Fang Hong I using a Long March I rocket. The satellite’s weight exceeds that of the first four satellites launched by Russia, the United States, France and Japan combined.

1967: Cosmonaut Colonel Vladimir Komarov suffers history’s first in-flight spaceflight fatality as the parachutes on the Soyuz 1 spacecraft fail during its return to earth. The crash was the culmination of many technical failures that forced the flight control director to abort the mission after 18 orbits.

1957: Heli-logging pioneer Columbia Helicopters is founded in Portland, Oregon.

1929: Royal Air Force Squadron Leader A G Jones-Williams and Flight Lieutenant N H Jenkins take off in a Fairey Long-range Monoplane from RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, England on the first nonstop flight between Britain and India. Strong headwinds impede forward progress and the crew decide to land in Karachi, Pakistan 50 hours later.

1917: Lt. Col. William “Billy” Mitchell becomes the first U.S. Army officer to fly over Germany.

1913: O. Gilbert flies a TK 825 km from Villacoublay, France to Vitoria, Spain in 8 hours and 23 minutes.

1911: After two months of training, Lts. M. Longmore and C. R. Samson become the first pilots of the British Royal Navy.

1909: Wilbur Wright completes five flights in front of an audience including King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in Centocelle, Italy. A photojournalist tags along on one of the flights, filming the first motion pictures ever shot from an airplane in flight.