On This Day in Aviation History

December 19, 2012

World’s First Airport Opens, Apollo 17 Splashes Down: December 19 in Aviation History

The Apollo 17 spacecraft, containing astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt, glided to a safe splashdown at 2:25 p.m. EST on Dec. 19, 1972, 648 kilometers (350 nautical miles) southeast of American Samoa. The astronauts were flown by recovery helicopter to the U.S.S. Ticonderoga slightly less than an hour after the completion of NASA's sixth and last manned lunar landing in the Apollo program. (Photo by NASA)
The Apollo 17 spacecraft, containing astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt, glided to a safe splashdown at 2:25 p.m. EST on Dec. 19, 1972, 648 kilometers (350 nautical miles) southeast of American Samoa. The astronauts were flown by recovery helicopter to the U.S.S. Ticonderoga slightly less than an hour after the completion of NASA's sixth and last manned lunar landing in the Apollo program. (Photo by NASA)
2005: Chalk’s Ocean Airways Flight 101, a Grumman G-73T registered N2969, crashes off the coast of Miami Beach, Florida, killing all 20 on-board. Metal fatigue caused the plane’s right wing to snap off, sending the plane plummeting into the ocean. Amateur video captured the crash:

1997: SilkAir Flight 185, a Boeing 737-36N registered 9V-TRF, flying from Jakarta to Singapore, crashes into the Musi River in Indonesia, killing all 104 people on-board. The aircraft was cruising at 35,000 ft when it suddenly entered a vertical steep dive. Reaching speeds beyond the structural limits, the aircraft broke up and virtually disintegrated on impact. Only six positive body identifications were made.

1990: Northwest Airlines purchases a 25 percent share in Hawaiian Airlines.

1989: American Airlines purchases the Central and South American routes owned by struggling Eastern Air Lines.

1986: Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-61C is aborted at T-minus 31 seconds due to a problem with the solid rocket booster. The clock was set back to T-20 minutes, but ended again at T-9 minutes due to weather. The mission would later depart January 12, and land 10 days before the Challenger accident took place, making it the last successful shuttle mission before the accident.

1978: Solar One, the world’s first solar-powered aircraft, makes its first flight in England.

1972: Apollo 17, the last manned lunar flight, splashes down in the Pacific.

1968: El Al places an order for two 747-258Bs, plus an option for one more. Boeing would deliver the Israeli airline’s first widebody planes in 1971.

1908: The world’s first formally organized airport, Port-Aviation, opens outside of Paris.