On This Day in Aviation History

October 3, 2012

X-15 Sets New Airspeed Record, History’s First Mid-Air Collision: October 3 in Aviation History

Space Shuttle Atlantis leaves the launch pad for the first time in 1985. (Photo by NASA)

2010: Colgan Air discontinues flights between Albany and Buffalo, severing air links between New York’s second and third largest cities.

2006: Hakan Ekinci hijacks Turkish Airlines Flight 1476, a Boeing 737-400, over Greece, demanding to be flown to Rome, Italy, to speak to Pope Benedict XVI. Greek and Italian F-16 Fighting Falcons escort the plane to a landing in Brindisi, Italy, where Ekinci is arrested. No one is injured in the incident.

1985: First launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, on mission STS-51-J.

1967: New airspeed record set by US Air Force test pilot William “Pete” Knight in a North American X-15 rocket plane: Mach 6.72 (4,543 mph).

1953: Flying a Douglas XF4D-1, US Navy Lieutenant Commander James Verdin sets a world airpseed record over a 3 km (1.9 mi) course of 752.944 mph (1,211.487 km/hr). It is the first time that a carrier-capable combat aircraft in its normal configuration sets a world speed record.

1951: The US Navy commissions its first anti-submarine warfare helicopter squadron, HS-1.

1950: In one of the first instances of a helicopter being used for mine patrol duties, a US Navy Sikorsky H-5 helicopter is dispatched from the light cruiser USS Worcester to clear the harbor at Wonsan, Korea.

1946: A Berlin-bound American Overseas Airlines Douglas C-54 named “Flagship New England” crashes into a mountainside outside of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, killing all 39 people onboard. The flight was mostly carrying wives and children of US Army personnel serving in post-war Germany. At the time, it was the worst accident of its kind among US civilian airlines.

1942: First launch of Germany’s A4 rocket, later known as the V2. The rocket flies 120 miles from Peenemünde and reaches an altitude of 53 miles, effectively becoming the first manmade item to enter space.

1935: Hugh Herndon and Clyde Pangborn takeoff from Samushiro Beach, Japan for the first nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean. They land in Wenatchee, Washington 41 hours later.

1910: First midair collision between airplanes takes place during the Milano Circuito Aereo Internazionale in Milan, Italy. René Thomas of France, flying an Antoinette monoplane rear-ends Captain Bertram Dickson of the British army in a Farman biplane. Both pilots survive but Dickson never flies again.

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