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On This Day: 1956

Aviation events for 1956

February 1: Army activated the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala., to weaponize the Redstone and to develop the Jupiter IRBM.
February 6: William Judd lands his Cessna 180 in Paris after a solo flight of 25 hours 15 minutes across the North Atlantic from the US.
March 7: Dan Perkins, engineer at Britain’s Royal Aircraft Establishment, makes his first flight in an inflatable airplane in Bedfordshire, England. It takes 25 minutes to inflate it, using a large domestic vacuum cleaner.
March 10: The first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph (1,609 km/h) is an English Fairey Delta 2. Piloted by Lt. Cdr. Peter Twiss, it reaches a speed of 1,132 mph (1,822 km/h).
May 7: National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) announces the start of a new research program and a new airplane, the Lockheed U-2. This was the first public acknowledgement of the existence of the U-2. The NACA announcement listed, high altitude research, air turbulence studies, connective cloud tests, wind sheer testing, jet stream research, cosmic rays studies, ozone and water vapor studies. All this research happened much later. The U-2 was a spy plane, the research projects were just a cover story. (Q)
May 21: B-52 Stratofortress drops the US hydrogen bomb, a 3.75 MT device on (Bikini Atoll) Central Pacific, a first such air drop.
June 30: a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 and a Trans World Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation collide in mid-air over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, killing all 128 passengers and crew aboard both airplanes in the deadliest air disaster in history at the time; the crash triggers sweeping changes in the regulations governing cross-country flight over the United States, which would include the creation of the Federal Aviation Agency.
July 4: A Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft makes its first operational overflight. It is designed to fly at supersonic speeds and photograph the earth from 60,000 feet. U-2s conduct the first “Operation Overflight” out of Weisbaden West Germany. This mission was an overflight of the Soviet Union. This operation was under the cover designation of 1st Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Provisional (WRSP-1). Other operational locations followed; WRSP-2 in Incirlik Turkey, WRSP-3 in Atsugi Japan.
July 9: The NACA makes another announcement about the great research work being conducted with the U-2. It informs the public of the need to conduct these types of research flights overseas. This just another cover story to explain the presence of U-2 in Germany and other locations. Through out 1957, 1958 and 1959 the U-2 regularly over flew the Soviet Union at a rate of about once per month. The Soviets tried in vain to intercept the U-2 flights. However, they continued to get closer with each attempt. The United States knew that it was only a mater of time before a U-2 would be lost over the Soviet Union.
July 23: First flight of the Dassault Étendard II.
August 1: First flight of the Aeritalia G.91.
August 6: First flight of the Beechcraft Travel Air. Read more...
August 9: The Fiat G.91, produced for NATO as a light strike-fighter, makes its first flight.
August 11: The Cessna 620, a pressurized business airplane propelled by four piston engines, makes her maiden flight. Cessna soon determines that there is no market for the aircraft, and with only one prototype built (N620E) cancels the project about a year later.
August 24: A U.S. Army helicopter becomes the first rotary-winged aircraft to fly non-stop across the United States.
August 31: First flight of the Boeing KC-135A Strato Tanker.
August 31: The Avro Vulcan enters operational service with No. 83 Squadron RAF.
September 7: the Bell X-2 research aircraft is flown by Captain Iven C. Kincheloe to a new altitude record of 126,200 ft (38,466 m).
September 10: First flight of the North American XF-107A Ultra Saber.
September 24: The second incarnation of the Luftwaffe is founded in Germany.
September 24: The Tupolev Tu-104 enters service with Aeroflot.
September 27: The 1st piloted airplane to exceed Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) is the rocket-powered Bell X-2.
October 11: a Vickers Valiant of No. 49 Squadron RAF drops Britain's first air-dropped atomic bomb, over Maralinga, South Australia.
October 18: Air Force cancels the design efforts of the REX hydrogen fueled engines. This engine design was later considered for the SR-71.
October 22: First flight of the Bell XH-40 (UH-1 prototype), better known as the “Huey.”
October 31: The US Navy R4D-5 Skytrain Que Sera Sera, commanded by Rear Admiral George Dufek, becomes the 1st airplane to make a landing at the South Pole.
November 11: First flight of the Convair XB-58A Hustler.
November 17: First flight of the Dassault Mirage III
November 25: U.S. Air Force Sergeant Richard Patton makes the 1st successful parachute jump in Antarctica. He jumps from 1,500 feet as a test to determine the cause of parachute malfunction in sub-zero weather conditions.
November 28: Ryan X-13 Vertijet makes its first transition from vertical to horizontal flight.
December 9: Trans-Canada Air Flight 810, a Canadair North Star registered CF-TFD, crashes into Mount Slesse in British Columbia, killing all 62 people on-board. It is suspected to have crashed due to icing and turbulence, hitting the summit at high speeds, completely destroying the aircraft. Because the area is so inhospitable, the wreckage and most of the bodies we left at the crash site.
December 14: Brazil becomes the first country in Latin America to acquire an aircraft carrier, purchasing HMS Vengeance from the United Kingdom.
December 26: First flight of the Convair F-106 Delta Dart.

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