Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, falls out of orbit and back to Earth.
In his state-of-the-Union message, President Eisenhower reported: "In recognition of the need for single control in some of our most advanced development projects, the Secretary of Defense has already decided to concentrate into one organization all antimissile and satellite technology undertaken within the Department of Defense."
Qantas becomes the first foreign airline permitted to fly across the United States.
4751st Air Defense Missile Wing to develop and conduct training program for Bomarc units, and the 864th Strategic Missile Squadron to be equipped with Jupiter IRBM, were both activated.
Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, Director of the NACA, in a speech to the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, stressed the importance of a well-planned and logical space program embracing both civilian and military uses. He stated that the national space program should be under the joint control of the Department of Defense, the NACA, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation; in addition to research flights, the NACA would coordinate and conduct research in space technology in its own laboratories and by contract in support of both military and nonmilitary projects.
Explorer 1, the first U.S. Earth-orbiting satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch vehicle was an Army Jupiter-C rocket. Explorer 1 orbited the Earth every 115 minutes. Its orbit carried it from a low of about 220 miles to a high of nearly 1,600 miles.
The world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the CVAN-65 USS Enterprise is laid down at the Newport News shipyard.
A B-47 Stratojet on a simulated training exercise out of Homestead Air Force base in Florida collides with an F-86 Sabre. The bomber is carrying a 7,600-pound hydrogen bomb, which was jettisoned in an effort to reduce weight for a safe landing. The Sabre pilot ejects, the B-47 plane made it to Hunter Army Airfield safely, and the bomb, let go into the Atlantic Ocean, was never found. If you happen to reel it in on a fishing trip, please contact the United States Air Force.
Vanguard TV-3 back-up launches into Earth orbit; reaches 6 km.
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes on its third attempt to takeoff at Munich-Riem Airport in West Germany. The Airspeed AS-57 Ambassador (G-ALZU) was attempting to become airborne on a slush-covered runway, when it tore through a fence and hit a nearby house. There are 21 survivors among the 44 people on the aircraft.
One of the best British soccer teams, Manchester United, has been virtually wiped out in an air crash. The team was returning from Belgrade after victory against a Yugoslav opponent when their British European Airways (BEA) Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador failed to take off and crashed into a house in Munich, Germany.
Explorer 2 launches, but due to a mechanical failure, does not reach orbit.
Boeing B-47E Stratojet, 53-1876, and an F-86 Sabre collide during a training mission. The damaged B-47 is forced to jettison a nuclear weapon casing. Because there’s no fuel capsule installed on the bomb, there is no nuclear detonation. The bomb would never be found.
Air Inter commences operations.
Navy launches Vanguard 1 into orbit (2nd U.S.), measures Earth shape.
Austrian Airlines takes off on its first flight, with a Vickers Viscount from Vienna to London with a stop in Zurich.
Britain's 1st planetarium opens at Madame Tussaud's in London.
Braniff Airlines Douglas DC-7 (N5904) departs Miami, Florida, and tries to return to the airport after an fire on the #3 engine but doesn’t make it. Of the 24 on-board, 9 perish in a marsh.
The United States launches its third satellite, Explorer III.
National Advisory Council on Aeronautics renamed NASA.
USAF Atlas ICBM was successfully flown from Cape Canaveral, FL, to the impact area some 600 miles away.
AREA Ecuador Flight 222, a Douglas C-47 (DC-3) registered HC-ACL, crashes into a Chugchilan range of mountains after not maintaining the proper heading, resulting the fatalities of all 32 aboard.
North American Aviation is issued a preliminary contract to build prototypes of the XF-108 long-range interceptor aircraft for the USAF. Read more...
US Navy Lieutenant-Commander George Watkins flies from Edwards Air Base in California to a world record absolute altitude within the atmosphere of 76,932 feet in a Grumman F11F-1 Tiger.
First flight of the Boeing Vertol 107-II.
First flight of the Blackburn Buccaneer XK 486.
Roger Carpentier beats Watkin’s two-week-old world altitude record when he flies to 79,452 feet in a Sud-Ouest SO 9050 in Istres, France.
A Royal Air Force Miles Marathon T.2 (XA253) crashes after landing at Topcliffe RAF Station in the UK after the crew accidentally retracts the landing gear instead of raising the flaps.
The USSR launches Sputnik 3 for the second time, following a failed launch about 2 weeks earlier.
Cpt W. W. Irwin sets a new airspeed record of 1,404 mph (2,259 km/h) in a F-104 Starfighter, the first record over 2,000 km/h.
Four F3H Demons and four F8U Crusaders make a non-stop crossing of the Atlantic.
Martin’s Air Charter (known today as Martinair) is founded at Amsterdam’s Sciphol Airport.
First flight of the McDonnell XF4H-1 Phantom II.
London Gatwick Airport opens after two years of extensive reconstruction. It is the first multimodal airport in the world, with direct rail connections from the main terminal to London and Brighton.
President Eisenhower signs the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating a new federal agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s stated goal is to enable the U.S. to lead the exploration of space for peaceful purposes to benefit humanity.
First flight of the de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou CF-KTK-X.
Congress approves a bill creating the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to regulate all US commercial and military aviation
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, dissolving the Civil Aeronautics Administration and Civil Aeronautics Board and transferring all authority over aviation operations in the United States to the newly-created Federal Aviation Agency (FAA, later renamed Federal Aviation Administration).
Beale Air Force Base is fully operational under the Strategic Air Command with newlybuilt 12,000 foot runways.
The United States Air Force Academy opens in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
First flight of the North American A-5 Vigilante.
First flight of the North American NA265-40 Sabreliner.
Britain's last flying boat is withdrawn from commercial service when Aquila Airways terminated its service on the Southampton--Funchal (Madeira) route.
Britain’s national overseas airline BOAC becomes the 1st carrier to fly the Atlantic route by jet airliner.
Pan Am inaugurates the first jet service by a U.S. carrier, flying from New York's Idlewild Airport (now known as John F. Kennedy International Airport) to Paris Orly using a Boeing 707. The airline flew a commemorative flight on the 25th anniversary in 1983.
An aircraft exchange, which will function like the stock markets and commodity exchanges, opens in New York.
National Airlines operates the very first domestic jet service in the United States, flying a Boeing 707 from Miami to New York’s Idlewild.
This year, for the first time, more passengers (1.2 million) have crossed the North Atlantic by air than by sea.