The online aviation athenaeum providing daily milestones and opinions of flight -- past and present, links to books, articles, documentaries, and other online resources celebrating and educating the public about the world-changing achievements of flight. Often providing a corrective view to the official hagiographies of flight.
That force will feature 20 refurbished C-27s as the primary airlifters. At the peak in 1986, the Afghans operated 36 An-26s in roles such as light transport, medical and personnel evacuation, airdrops, and VIP shuttle. "Every aircraft is important, but the An-26 has executed more missions than any other aircraft in the history of this air force," said Brig. Gen. Assadullah Hashmi, AAF group operations commander. With the An-26s gone, the AAF is now working to phase out its An-32 transports this summer.
2010 -- Boeing resumed Boeing 787 flight testing today; ending a six week long hiatus following the November 9 Boeing 787 Dreamliner test flight evacuation after landing in Laredo, Texas due to smoke detected in the cockpit. No injuries were reported, but the incident raised questions about the safety of the aircraft.
Boeing has installed an interim version of updated power distribution system software, with which the FAA seems to have been satisfied.
2010 -- Russia has agreed to buy two helicopter carriers from a France-led consortium, the French and Russian governments said TODAY, in Moscow's first major foreign arms purchase since the fall of the Soviet Union.
2010 -- Angolan TAAG airline has suspended flights of its Boeing 777 aircraft after engine problems forced the planes to make two emergency landings in less than three weeks, a company official announced at the National Radio of Angola (RNA).
2010 -- Philippine Airlines has been told to pay millions of dollars in salary increases and scrap its age limit policy after the government ruled that cabin crew had been discriminated against.
2010 -- Passengers have been evacuated from a terminal at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport over fears the roof might collapse under the weight of snow. The evacuation added to travellers' misery as pre-Christmas weather chaos continued to hold France in its grip.
The roof of the same terminal collapsed in 2004, shortly after its opening, killing four people. Firemen were trying to clear the snow from the roof by the afternoon. Around 2,000 passengers have already spent the night marooned at Europe's third largest airport. Some were given field beds and blankets though many had to sleep on the floor. 400 of the 1,160 planned flights were cancelled after a strike by workers at Glykol, which makes de-icing fluid, caused a shortage. Secretary of State for Transport Thierry Mariani spoke today of "icing problems" due to snow quality and low stored glycol to explain the cancellation of 50% of flights at the airport of Roissy-Charles- de Gaulle, Third European airport. Urgently needed supplies were to be imported from Germany and the United States, the television station BFM reported. Secretary of State for Transport Thierry Mariani said it was "likely" that passengers spend Christmas Eve at the Paris airport Roissy-Charles de Gaulle.
2009 -- Ryanair says it will suspend its domestic Italy operations starting January 23.
Italy's civil aviation authority, ENAC directed Ryanair to accept other forms of passenger identification than a passport or national ID car, including less secure forms of ID on Italian domestic flights, such as fishing licenses. Ryanair says the ENAC directive issued last month could lead to the airline's handling agents being detained if they do not accept other forms of identification. Ryanair argues that acceting less secure forms of ID reduces safety and security in an unacceptable manner and the suspension of domestic Italian operationswill remain in place until ENAC rescinds its directive.
The plane flew around different points in the subcontinent. Ultimately, the plane landed in landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as officials of the government of India and the Taliban negotiated. The hijackers stabbed to death one passenger, 25-year-old Rupin Katyal, and some passengers were released. On December 31, 1999, the rest of the hostages on Flight 814 were freed in exchange for the release of three Muslim extremists.²
1995 -- A 16th Airlift Squadron aircrew from Charleston AFB, South Carolina, became the first to land a C-141 at Tuzla Airfield in Bosnia late on Christmas Eve to deliver two pallets, three vehicles, and 29 passengers, including 20 people from the 823rd Red Horse Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida.
1984 -- Four Islamic extremists¹ hijack Air France Flight 8969 in Algiers. The terrorists then flew the plane to Marseilles with the permission of the French and Algerian governments.
More than two days after the terrorists took control of the plane, during which time they killed three hostages, French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur decided to use French commandos and a small U.S. Marine Corps Reconnaissance detachment to put an end to the hijacking. In the ensuing mission, the terrorists were killed and the remaining hostages were released unharmed, despite the discovery of a cache of dynamite aboard the plane. Hostages claimed that the terrorists had discussed plans to fly the plane to Paris and blow it up.
1979 -- The first post-war European-built rocket, Ariane 1, successfully blasts off into space.
The success of Ariane 1's maiden flight was a major boost for the European Space Agency which first gave the go-ahead for the rocket in 1973. The rocket has been largely built by the French who have also borne 60% of the cost of the entire venture. The West Germans provided nearly 20% and the British are near the bottom of the list of contributors, providing less than 2.5% of the cost.
1972 -- Military Airlift Command aircraft began airlifting relief supplies into Managua, Nicaragua, after an earthquake virtually destroyed the city on December 23.
In the first two days, C-5 and C-141 aircraft unloaded more than 2,000,000 pounds of found, water, medical supplies and emergency heavy equipment.
1972 -- During the 7th night of Operation Linebacker II, thirty bombers, supported by 69 tactical aircraft, struck the railyards at Thai Nguyen and Kep and no American aircraft were lost during the mission.
Although the Stratofortresses garnered the lion's share of the publicity during the campaign, the tactical aircraft, were also hard at work. While the B-52s and F-111s attacked by night, an average of 69 tactical aircraft of the Air Force, Navy and Marines attacked by day (averaging nearly 100 sorties per day). Losses for these aircraft were extremely light, with fewer than a dozen lost during the entire campaign. Many have claimed the reason for this was that the North Vietnamese air defense forces waited for nightfall and the arrival of more lucrative targets.
B-52D tail gunner Airman 1st Class Albert Moore shot down a Vietnamese MiG-21. Airman Moore's kill is one of only two confirmed kills by a B-52D in the Vietnam War and the last confirmed kill by a tail gunner in wartime using machine guns.
The strikes of the 24th were followed by a 36-hour Christmas stand-down, during which Air Force planners went to work to revise their plans for the next phase of operations. Due to aircraft losses during the initial phase, they intended to launch an all-out attack on North Vietnam's air defenses when the operation resumed. This course was also necessary since, by Christmas, most of the strategic targets within North Vietnam were in shambles.
SAC also belatedly turned over tactical mission planning to its subordinate Eighth Air Force headquarters on Guam, which revised the previously costly tactics. Instead of utilizing multiple waves, all of the bombers would be in and out of the target area within 20 minutes and they would approach from multiple directions and at different altitudes. They would exit by varying routes and the steep post-target turns (PTTs) to the west were eliminated. These turns had two unfortunate consequences for the bombers: the B-52s would be turning into a strong headwind, slowing their ground speed by 100 knots (185 km/h) and prolonging their stay in the target area and the PTT would point the emitter antennas of their electronic warfare (EW) systems away from the radars they were attempting to jam, degrading the effectiveness of the cells, as well as showing the largest radar cross-section to the missile guidance radars.
Ten targets, in both the Hanoi and Haiphong areas, were to be struck by bombers approaching in seven separate streams, four of which were to come in off the Gulf of Tonkin. Additional jammers were also installed in the B-52Gs, allowing them to return to the operation.
1971 -- LANSA Flight 508 is struck by lightning while flying over Peru, igniting the fuel tank and leading to structural failure.
The Lockheed L-188A Electra (registered OB-R-941) disintegrated, and 91 of the 92 people on-board perished. A 17-year-old girl survived the 2-mile fall with only a gash in her leg and a broken collar bone. Yet she was able to walk through the Amazon for 10 days until being rescued by lumberjacks.
1968 -- The Apollo 8 spacecraft has taken its crew of three astronauts safely into orbit around the Moon, the first manned space mission to achieve the feat.
Subsequently, TV Guide for May 10-16, 1969, claimed that one out of every four persons on earth - nearly 1 billion people in 64 countries - heard the astronauts' reading and greeting, either on radio or on TV; and delayed broadcasts that same day reached 30 additional countries.
1966 -- A Canadair CL-44 chartered by the United States military crashes into a small village in South Vietnam, killing 129.
1964 –- Flying Tiger Line Flight 282, which had departed out of San Francisco International Airport on its way to JFK, New York, crashes into Sweeney Ridge in San Bruno, California killing all three crewmembers.
The Lockheed Constellation, 6915C, deviated from its flight plan for an unknown reason where downdraft activity and turbulence prevented the aircraft from climbing.
1963 -- New York International Airport is rededicated as John F. Kennedy Airport in honor of the murdered president.
1962 -- Bay of Pigs prisoners fly to freedom. The last of more than 1,000 men taken prisoner at the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba has returned to the United States in time for Christmas.
The government agreed to the payment of a ransom of $53 million in food and medical supplies, donated by companies all over the U.S.A., as a condition for their release. The airlift of the prisoners began yesterday, when the first 107 men boarded a DC6 airliner supplied by Pan American World Airways at a military airbase near Havana. After just four flights, however, the operation was suspended for the night, to the consternation of the thousands of anxious relatives of the prisoners, keeping vigil in Florida for their return. Flights resumed early this morning, and by the end of the day all 1,113 prisoners had been safely returned.
1957 -- A Red Army missile battalion with two R-2's and their launchers arrive in Beijing by rail.
They are secretly moved to the premises of the Fifth Academy in the middle of the night.
1955 –- NORAD tracks Santa for the first time.
This began when a Colorado-based Sears store had published a number for children to be able to call Santa Claus. A typo was made, and the number instead led to the hotline for the Director of Operations at Continental Air Defense Command. Realizing the mistake, the director told his team to give the position of Santa to whomever had called in.
1944 -- The people of the Philippines receive a surprise when airplanes of 43rd Bombing Group flew over to drop a million Christmas cards; each one contains the words: "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 1944 - General Douglas MacArthur."
1943 -- Eighth Air Force sent 670 B-17s and B-24s to make the first major assault on German V-weapon sites at Pas de Calais.
1923 -- Time magazine reported that bills introduced in Congress would conserve American helium resources as a monopoly for both war and peace purposes.
Up to 500 million cubic feet of helium could be derived from natural gas wells, enough to maintain 200 airships. This amount was contrasted with probably not more than 15 cubic feet of isolated helium held before the World War. The production cost had been reduced to 7 cents per cubic foot, and helium would be preferred to airships inflated with hydrogen which could be exploded by anti-aircraft guns or engine accidents. The article also recognized that helium could be liquefied for easy storage, and that a laboratory in Toronto was producing liquid helium for military purposes.
1914 -- First bombs fall on Britain during second raid on Dover by German seaplane.
He was the head of the team that developed Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite. He collaborated with Neher and Robert Millikan on cosmic ray experiments in the 1930s, taught electronics in the 1930s, and was at Caltech during the war. He spent the rest of his career with the Jet Propusion Laboratory, becoming its Director in 1954 with responsibility for the U.S. unmanned exploration of the planets and the solar system. Among these were the Mariner spacecraft to Venus and Mercury, and the Viking mission to Mars. The Voyager spacecraft yielded stunning photographs of the planets Jupiter and Saturn.
1908 -- The world's first aeronautical exhibition opens in Paris when the French president inaugurated the second half of the Annual Automobile Salon at the Grand Palais.
¹ The hijacking came during a period of political upheaval in Algeria that pitted Islamic rebels against the country's military dictatorship. France, along with other Western countries, supported the dictatorship to prevent the takeover of the country by Islamic fundamentalist. The hijacking was designed as a protest against this support. The Algerian civil war began in 1992 afteer the Algerian army cancelled an election that the Islamic party was winning. The violence lessened in 1999 when Abdelaziz Bouteflika--who promised reform and end to the war--was elected president. Fighting still breaks out periodically. Despite the resistance of Islamic fundamentalist groups, the army has maintained power. Over 100,000 people have died in the fighting.
² One of the militants released is Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Sound familiar? He killed Daniel Pearl and is said to have participated in the planning of the September 11th attacks.