On This Day in Aviation History
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster: January 28th in Aviation History
1986 – Space Shuttle Challenger, operating mission STS-51L, explodes 73 seconds after launch at an altitude of 48,000 ft, killing all seven astronauts onboard. The disintegration is later attributed to an O-ring failure on a solid rocket booster joint which had been affected by the unusually cold, 36 degree temperature at launch. The crash would result in a 32-month hiatus on Shuttle flights.
1964 – A U.S. Air Force T-39 Sabreliner strays into East Germany and is shot down by Soviet MiG-19s near Erfurt, killing all 3 crewmen.
1948 – A DC-3 flight chartered by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service crashes into hills west of Coalinga, California, killing 32. The crash became the impetus of the Woody Guthrie song “Deportee.”
1871 – The last balloon to leave during the siege of Paris takes off with orders for the French fleet to bring food and supplies to replenish the French capital, an armistice having been signed. The flight of the General Cambronne ends a period of almost exactly 5 months during which the balloons were put to efficient use.