On This Day in Aviation History
Alaska 261 Plunges into Pacific Ocean: January 31st in Aviation History
2000 – Alaska Airlines Flight 261, an MD-83 (N963AS) crashes into the Pacific Ocean, not far off the coast from LAX. The crash would be attributed to poor lubrication of a jackscrew which caused loss of control of the vertical stabilizer. The aircraft entered a dive from 31,500ft down to 23,000ft in 80 seconds. The crew spent the next 10 minutes trying to solve the problem while planning an LAX diversion when a second, fatal dive, initiated. All 88 people on the aircraft died.
1977 – Space Shuttle Enterprise is transported 36 miles from the Rockwell factory in Palmdale, Calif., to Edwards Air Force Base.
1971 – Apollo 14, the eighth Apollo mission and third manned moon-flight, launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
1961 – Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2), carrying Ham the Chimp, carries the first hominid into sub-orbit. The flight would last just over 16 minutes, during which Ham operated a lever to prove that tasks could be performed in space.
1958 – Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite is launched.
1957 – On the first test flight of the Douglas DC-7B (N8210H), the aircraft collides with a USAF F-89, over Sunland, California. The two DC-7B crewmembers are killed, and only one of the F-89’s crew safely ejects. The planes hit the ground in a schoolyard, killing 3 more people.
1949 – Pan Am receives the first Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.
Grim ATC recording from the doomed Alaska Flight 261 and other airliners who witnessed it…