On This Day in Aviation History


Apollo 11 Moon Launch, JFK Jr. Plane Crash: July 16th in Aviation History

Apollo 11 flies towards earth orbit with the American flag in the foreground. (Photo by NASA)

1921: The first air race between Oxford and Cambridge universities, flown using Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 aircraft, is won by Cambridge.

1930: Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express merge to form T&WA, which at the time stood for Transcontinental and Western Air. The company would adopt the name to Trans World Airways in 1950.

1957: US Marine and future first-American-in-space Major John H. Glenn flies a US Navy Crusader jet from Los Angeles to New York in just over 3 hours, setting a new speed record.

1948: History’s first airliner hijacking: Miss Macao, a Cathay Pacific Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina flying boat (VR-HDT), is hijacked by four men seeking to rob its passengers and hold them for ransom. Instead, the plane crashes in the Pearl River Delta, killing 25 of the 26 people onboard. The lone survivor is one of the hijackers, Huang Yu, who is arrested but released after confusion over whether China or Hong Kong authorities had jurisdiction.

1969: NASA’s Saturn rocket carrying the Apollo 11 mission lifts off from Kennedy Space Center enroute to the first Moon landing.

1983: A British Airways Helicopters Sikorsky S-61 helicopter (G-BEON) crashes off the coast of Ireland on a flight from Penzance to the St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, killing 20 of the 26 people onboard. The crash is blamed on pilots failing to maintain awareness of their instruments in poor visibility, essentially flying the chopper straight into the Celtic Sea.

1999: John F. Kennedy, Jr. is killed, along with his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, when his Piper Saratoga (N9253N) crashes into the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of Marthas Vineyard. An NTSB investigation would blame “the pilot’s failure to maintain control of his airplane during a descent over water at night, which was a result of spatial disorientation.”

2011: JetBlue offers two $4 flights between Long Beach, Calif., and Burbank, Calif., during the “Carmageddon” closure of the 405 Freeway linking the two cities.

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