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On This Day: 1955

Aviation events for 1955

January 9: The Vickers Valiant enters operational service with No. 138 Squadron RAF.
January 27: Ariana Afghan Airlines is founded.
February 12: Soviets decide space center to be built in Baikonur, Kazachstan.
February 14: First flight of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-2, prototype of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
February 19: TWA Flight 260, a Martin 4-0-4 (N40416) crashes into the Sandia Mountains while on a flight form Albuquerque to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Instrument failure giving poor direction is accredited with the deaths of all 16 on-board. The 10,678ft mountain is still the home to some of the wreckage, which can be seen from the Sandia Tram.
February 26: The first supersonic ejection takes place when North American test pilot George F. Smith ejects himself from his diving F-100 off Laguna Beach, California. He is unconscious for five days but recovers.
March 2: First flight of the Dassault Super Mystère.
March 11: Orient Airways is merged into a new government-owned airline to become Pakistan International Airlines.
March 12: First flight of the Aérospatiale Alouette II helicopter.
March 25: First flight of the Ling-Temco-Vought XF-8A Crusader.
March 26: Pan am Flight 845/26 ditches into Pacific Ocean off of the Oregon coast after its #3 engine failed. The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser (N1032V) experiences the difficulty after departing Portland International, and floats in the water for two hours, until the USS Bayfield arrives for rescue. Of the 19 on-board, 4 die.
April 1: Post-World War II bans on powered flight in West Germany are lifted and reconstituted Lufthansa resumes operations.
April 18: Albert Einstein died in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
May 6: United Airlines begins the first nonstop flights between New York and San Francisco.
May 23: The first short-haul jet airliner to go into widespread service, the Sud-Aviation SE 210 Caravelle, makes its first flight at Toulouse, France.
May 27: First flight of the Sud Caravelle.
June 17: First flight of the Tupolev Tu-104.
June 25: First flight of the Dassault Mirage I.
June 29: The Boeing B-52 enters operational service with the 93rd Bomb Wing.
July 11: The U.S. Air Force Academy is dedicated at its temporary location, Lowry Air Force Base.
July 14: First flight of the Martin XP6M-1 Seamaster, BuNo 138821.
July 26: Capital Airlines adopts the Vickers Viscount, the first US airline to select a British airliner.
August 3: President Eisenhower signs the Civilian Airport Modernization Bill. The legislation establishes a long-term program of federal government aid toward the construction of airports in the United States.
August 4: First flight of a U-2 (article 341), the pilot was Tony LeVier. The term “article” was a Skunk Works designation which was similar to the term “serial number.” Read more...
August 29: W.F. Gibb flies on Olympus-engined Canberra B.2 to a world record altitude of 65,889 ft.
September 3: British Squadron Leader J.S. Fifield in England makes the 1st successful demonstration of the use of an ejection seat from a moving aircraft while still on the ground. He ejects from a modified Gloster Meteor 7 that is traveling 120-mph.
September 7: First flight of the Sukhoi S-1, prototype of Su-7.
September 29: An English Electric Canberra sets a new altitude record of 65,876 ft (20,079 m).
United Airlines Douglas DC-4 (N30062) at  Medicine Bow Peak, United States
October 6: United Airlines Flight 409, en route from Denver, Colorado to Salt Lake City, Utah, crashed into Medicine Bow Peak, near Centennial, Wyoming, killing all 63 passengers and 3 crew. At the time, this was the deadliest crash in American commercial aviation history. Read more...
October 16: A Boeing 367-80 (a 707 prototype) crosses the United States in just 3 hours 58 minutes.
October 22: First flight of the Republic XF-105 Thunder Chief.
October 25: First flight of the Saab Draken.
October 25: First flight of the Saab Draken.
November 22: Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 drops the first Soviet thermo-nuclear bomb RDS-37 in Siberia.
November 24: The prototype Fokker F.27 Friendship medium-range twin-turboprop transport flies for the 1st time.
December 4: Glenn L. Martin, founder of the Glenn L. Martin Company, dies at age 69.
December 15: The de Havilland Mosquito flies its final operational sortie with the Royal Air Force.
December 15: First flight of the Douglas DC-7.
December 21: Condor Flugdienst is founded.
December 24: 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.

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