On This Day in Aviation History

January 16, 2014

January 16th in Aviation History: Final Space Shuttle Columbia Launch, TWA Flight 3 Crashes

2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia launches for the last time on mission STS-107, suffering damage to its thermal protection tiles on the way up from a piece of foam that broke off of the external tank. The spacecraft would disintegrate on re-entry 16 days later as a result of the damage.

2002 – Garuda Indonesia Flight 421, a Boeing 737-3Q8 (reg PK-GWA), is forced to ditch into the shallow Bengawan Solo River in Indonesia after a flameout on both engines. Though the aircraft was destroyed and written off, there was only one fatality among the 60 people aboard.

1983 – Turkish Airlines Flight 158, a Boeing 727-2F2 (reg TC-JBR) crashes 160ft short of the runway at Ankara Esenboga Airport in Turkey in bad weather, killing 47 of the 76 onboard.

1975 – In what was known was Operation Streak Eagle, new climbing records are set by an F-15A at Grand Forks Air Base in North Dakota. The F-15 climbs to an altitude of 3,000 m (9,843 ft) in 27.57 seconds, 6,000 m (19,685 ft) in 39.33 seconds, 9,000 m (29,528 ft) in 48.86 seconds, 12,000 m (39,370 ft) in 59.38 seconds and 15,000 m (42,212 ft) in 1 minute, 17.02 seconds.

1980 – Air Anglia and British Island Airways merge to create Air UK, which would later be fully acquired by KLM in 1997.

1969 – Soyuz 4 docks with Soyuz 5, marking the first ever orbital docking and transfer of astronauts between spacecraft.

1957 – Operation Power Flite, the first around-the-world nonstop flight, takes off using five B-52 Stratofortress bombers for the trip.

1942 – TWA Flight 3, a Douglas DC-3 (reg NC1946) enroute to Burbank from New York, crashes 15 minutes after takeoff from a fuel stop at what is now Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, killing all 22 people aboard, including Hollywood star Carole Lombard. The aircraft hit the side of a cliff on Potosi Mountain at an elevation of 7,770 ft due to a flight planning error during the night-time flight.

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