On This Day in Aviation History
Nixon Launches Space Shuttle Program: January 5 in Aviation History
2009: A Basler BT-67 crashes while attempting to land in Antarctica. All four passengers survive, but the plane is destroyed.
2006: Independence Air ceases operations after a little over one year of flying.
2002: Charles J. Bishop, a Florida teenager inspired by the September 11th hijackers, flies a Cessna 172 into the side of the Bank of America Tower in Tampa. Bishop is killed and one office is damaged but no one else is hurt.
1995: The “Father of Stealth,” Ben Rich, dies in Ventura, Calif., at the age of 69. The second director of Lockheed’s Skunk Works, Rich led development of the F-117 and also took part in the F-104, U-2, SR-71, A-12, F-22 projects.
1981: Sir James Martin, co-founder of famed Martin-Baker Aircraft Co., dies at the age of 87.
1977: A disgruntled former employee of Connellan Airways in Australia flies a Beechcraft Baron into the airline’s complex at Alice Springs Airport, killing four people and the pilot, and injuring four others.
1972: President Richard Nixon launches the Space Shuttle program with initial funding of $5.5 billion
1969: Venera 5, USSR’s first probe to make a successful planet landing, is launched. It would later enter the atmosphere of Venus on May 16.
1969: Ariana Afghan Airlines Flight 701, a Boeing 727-100 (YA-FAR), crashes into a house while on approach to London’s Gatwick Airport. 48 of the 54 passengers and crew are killed as well as two people in the house, though a baby in the house survives. The crash is blamed on the captain not diverting to Heathrow due to Gatwick’s heavy fog and not extending the flaps.
1967: A Lockheed A-12 crashes after running out of fuel on a training flight from Groom Lake, Nevada. Pilot Walter Ray ejects prior to impact, but his ejection seat fails and he is killed.
1964: First flight of the Short Belfast, a four-engined turboprop freighter built for the Royal Air Force.
1962: A US Army Piasecki H-21 C Shawnee transport helicopter is shot down by Viet Cong ground fire near Dak Roda, South Vietnam, killing three and marking the Army’s first combat deaths of the war.
1962: Three airmen are killed in the crash of a US Air Force Boeing B-47E-105-BW Stratojet out of March Air Force Base, California.
1959: The Fairey Rotodyne, a part-plane, part-helicopter aircraft, sets a new speed record for “convertiplanes,” hitting 190 mph during a 62-mile flight.
1956: The first and only prototype of the Piasecki YH-16A Turbo Transporter helicopter breaks up in flight over Swedesboro, New Jersey, killing both pilots. The program is subsequently cancelled.
1952: Pan Am begins cargo flights across the Atlantic.
1949: Charles “Chuck” Yeager flies the only conventional runway take off performed during the Bell X-1 program, reaching 23,000 ft in 90 seconds.
1939: Amelia Earhart is declared legally dead, 18 months after her plane had disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.