On This Day in Aviation History

January 14, 2014

January 14th in Aviation History: FDR Becomes First President To Fly

Pan Am's Dixie Clipper (NC18605) carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Casablanca. (Photo by Pan Am)
Pan Am's Dixie Clipper (NC18605) carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Casablanca, marking the first time a sitting US President had traveled by airplane. (Photo by Pan Am)
2011: A US Air Force General Atomics MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle crashes into the sea off the Horn of Africa while trying to return to Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport in Djibouti. It is the first known accident involving either a Predator or an MQ-9 Reaper near a civilian airport.

2002: Lion Air Flight 386 a Boeing 737-200 registered PK-LID, overruns the runway after a rejected takeoff from Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Indonesia. The accident would be blamed on the pilots not having set flaps for takeoff speed, as the aircraft rotated but didn’t liftoff due to the unexpectedly higher speed needed. All 103 on-board survived.

1998: An Ariana Afghan Airlines Antonov An-12BP (YA-DAB), believed to be carrying Taliban fighters, crashes into a mountain in southwest Pakistan while on a flight from Kandahar to Herat. The pilot had reported the plane was running low on fuel. All 51 onboard are killed.

1975: The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon wins the US Air Force’s Lightweight Fighter competition, beating out designs from Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop and Vought.

1969: A fire on the deck of the USS Enterprise, caused by an exploding rocket on an F-4 Phantom, kills 27 sailors.

1960: First flight of the Piper PA-28 Cherokee.

1958: Qantas becomes the first foreign airline permitted to operate across the United States.

1953: First flight of the Convair F2Y Sea Dart, a Navy fighter plane designed to takeoff and land on water. Only five prototypes would be built and the jet would never enter production, but it remains the first and only seaplane to break the sound barrier.

1950: The first prototype of the MiG-17 makes its maiden flight. Over the next 36 years,over 10,300 would be produced.

1943: President Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the first sitting U.S. President to fly in an airplane, arriving in Casablanca three days after departing Miami aboard a Pan Am Boeing 314 Flying Boat named Dixie Clipper (NC18605). The trip would take the President through South America and Africa with several fuel stops in between, enroute to the Casablanca Conference in which Roosevelt would discuss war strategy with Winston Churchill and Charles DeGaulle.

1935: United Air Lines decides to install de-icing systems on their fleet’s wings after tests on a Boeing 247.


  • Richard J. Garfunkel

    FDR flew to the Democratic National Convention in 1932 to accept the nomination for the presidency!