On This Day in Aviation History


The White House Enters the Jet Age: August 26th in Aviation History

2008: a Sun Air 737-200 carrying 109 passengers and crew is hijacked after takeoff of a flight from Nyala, Sudan to Cairo, and demand to be flown to France. The plane ends up landing in Libya, where the passengers would be released the next day later and the hijackers would surrender two days later.

2003: the Columbia Accident Investigation Board releases its final report on Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

1988: Mehran Karimi Nasseri begins what would be an 18 year layover in Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. Believed to be the inspiration for the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks film The Terminal, a chain of immigration bureaucracy and paperwork snafus prevent Nasseri from leaving the airport while en route to settle in London. Despite assistance from lawyers, he would not be able to legally leave the airport until sickness forces him out in July of 2006.

1986: the CFM International CFM56 jet engine makes its first flight test.

1985: billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn buys TWA.

1959: Jacqueline Auriol becomes the first woman to fly at Mach 2, while piloting a Dassault Mirage III.

1959: the White House enters the jet age. After pressure from Secretary of State John Dulles (after whom the Capitol’s airport is now named) regarding the somewhat shoddy appearance of a US President arriving at international meetings aboard a prop while Russian dignitaries flew in aboard jets, the first VC-137A, a modified Boeing 707-120 airliner, enters service to replace the Lockheed Super Constellation formerly responsible for Presidential transport. Newer aircraft would subsequently take over President-carrying duties over the years, but this first jet, branded SAM 970, would remain in the Air Force’s Special Air Missions fleet until 1996, last being used to transport Vice President Al Gore. SAM 970 is now on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

1929: the largest trimotor transport aircraft built by Fokker, the F.IX, makes its first flight. The same aircraft (PH-AGA) would be delivered to KLM a few months later.

1925: Farman Parker of Anderson, Indiana becomes the world’s youngest pilot to fly solo at the age of 13 years, 7 months, 17 days. The record would stand until 1983.

About the Author



Scott Bateman in front of an under construction Boeing 747.

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Photos & Video: La Guardia Circa 1947 Teaches of Airport’s Additional Runways & United DC-4 Crash

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The Apollo 17 spacecraft, containing astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt, glided to a safe splashdown at 2:25 p.m. EST on Dec. 19, 1972, 648 kilometers (350 nautical miles) southeast of American Samoa. The astronauts were flown by recovery helicopter to the U.S.S. Ticonderoga slightly less than an hour after the completion of NASA's sixth and last manned lunar landing in the Apollo program. (Photo by NASA)

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