On This Day in Aviation History
America’s Air Traffic Controllers Strike: August 3 in Aviation History
1994: King Hussein of Jordan, a licensed pilot, flies his Lockheed L-1011 over Jerusalem, marking the first Jordanian overflight of Israeli airspace.
1984: terrorists set off a bomb at India’s Madras Airport, killing 32 people.
1981: in what would become a historical milestone in 20th century labor relations, roughly 13,000 of the 17,500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walk out from their jobs in America’s airport control towers in an attempt to cripple the nation’s transportation system and force the Federal government to accede to their contract demands. President Ronald Reagan would respond with a hardline stance, declaring their illegal strike a “peril to national safety” and ordering them back to work within 48 hours or face termination from their jobs. All but 1,300 controllers take a bet that the president is bluffing–and they lose–when on August 5th, Reagan fires the 11,345 controllers who continued to strike and permanently bans them from federal service. By replacing the fired controllers with non-union controllers, supervisors, and military controllers, as well as cutting in half the number of flights during peak periods, the FAA’s strike contingency plan would turn out to be a success. Public support for the fired controllers is low, as they had already been paid well above most Americans prior to the strike, and their contract demands would have earned them significantly more money while requiring they do less work. The union would be decertified a few months later.
1975: The worst accident ever involving a Boeing 707 occurs in Morocco as a chartered Alia Royal Jordanian flight crashes on approach to Agadir-Inezgane Airport (AGA), killing all 188 on board. The plane, registration JY-AEE (formerly N797PA, Pan Am’s “Clipper Northwind”) had apparently strayed from its prescribed course as it began its descent, leading to its right wing and no. 4 engine hitting a ridge at approximately 2,500 feet.