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On This Day: 1964

Aviation events for 1964

January 4: Pope Paul VI lands in Amman, Jordan, in a special Alitalia DC-8; it is the first time that a pope has used an airplane for an official visit.
January 5: First flight of the Shorts Belfast XR362
January 25: Echo 2, U.S. communications satellite launched.
January 28: A U.S. Air Force T-39 Sabreliner strays into East Germany and is shot down by Soviet MiG-19s near Erfurt, killing all 3 crewmembers.
January 29: Unmanned Apollo 1 Saturn launcher test attains Earth orbit.
January 30: Ranger 6 - USA Lunar Hard Lander launched. Cameras failed; lunar probe impacted the surface of the Moon.
February 1: President Lyndon Johnson publicly acknowledges the existence of the Lockheed A-12 Mach 3+ spy plane program and shows a picture that is actually an YF-12A.
February 1: The Boeing 727 enters service with Eastern Airlines.
February 3: The Federal Aviation Agency launches Operation Bongo Mark 2 to investigate the effects of supersonic flight; over the coming months, a Convair B-58 will fly through the sound barrier at low altitude over Oklahoma City.
February 4: A-12 (924 ) sustained flight at Mach 3+ and altitude. Pilot James Easthem reached Mach3.3 at 83,000 feet for just over 10 minutes. Aircraft heated to 800 F. Wiring insulation was burned and theaircraft was almost lost. All A-12s grounded for 6 weeks while Lockheed replaced all wiring in all the A-12s. (Q)
February 6: United Airlines puts the Boeing 727 into service, 5 days after delivery.
February 7: First photo of a YF-12 released. Aircraft 934. (Q)
February 21: A Philippine Airlines Douglas DC-3 crashes on approach to Marawi City. The accident is blamed on pilot error.
February 25: Eastern Air Lines Flight 304, a Douglas DC-8 (N8607), crashes into Lake Pontchartrain after departing New Orleans. All 58 aboard perish due to an abnormal trim component which led to instability when experiencing turbulence while climbing through 16,000ft.
February 29: President Johnson announced: "The United States has successfully developed anadvanced experimental jet aircraft, the A-11, which has been tested in sustained flight at more than 2,000mph and at altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet. The performance of the A-11 far exceeds that of any otheraircraft in the world today. The development of this aircraft has been made possible by major advances inaircraft technology of great significance to both military and commercial applications. Several A-11 aircraft are now being flight tested at Edwards AFB in California... The A-11 aircraft now at Edwards AFB are undergoing extensive tests to determine their capabilities as long-range interceptors." The proper designation of the A-11s that President Johnson referred to was the AF-12. The A-11 reference was used to mislead intelligence sources. Also, there were no Blackbirds at Edwards AFB at that time. Following the Presidents announcement, the AF-12 officially was changed to YF-12A. The YF-12 program became an overt operation while the A-12 OXCART was to remain a black program at Groom Lake.
March 20: ESRO established, European Space Research Organization.
March 30: Former Astronaut John Glenn bows out of the Ohio senate race after a concussion received while hitting his head in the bathtub leaves him unable to campaign.
April 2: Zond 1 - USSR Venus Flyby launched. Communication lost en route; now in a solar orbit.
April 8: Unmanned Gemini 1 launched.
April 9: First flight of the de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo. Read more...
April 10: First flight of the EWR VJ 101C, world's first supersonic V/STOL aircraft. Read more...
April 16: The first XAIM-47A air-to-air missile is fired from a YF-12. Read more...
April 17: Jerrie Mock becomes the first female pilto to successfully circumnavigate the globe, landing her Cessna 280 in Columbus, Ohio, after 29 days of flying covering 22,860 miles.
April 21: First flight of the HFB-320 Hansa Jet. Read more...
April 29: British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) introduces the VC10 jet airliner into regular passenger service, on its route to Lagos, Nigeria.
May 7: Pacific Air Lines Flight 773 crashes in San Ramon California after a suicidal passenger shoots both pilots in-flight. Francisco Gonzales, having financial and marital problems, purchased a .357 Smith & Wesson revolver and even notified friends and family that he’d be dying on May 6th or May 7th. He purchased a $105,000 insurance policy at Stockton Airport (SCK) before boarding the Fokker F-27 Friendship (N2770R) bound for Reno, Nevada. A few minutes after reaching their assigned altitude of 5,000ft, a sound is heard on the radio and the aircraft disappears from radar. The final transmission is determined by investigators to be the First Officer saying “Skipper’s shot. We’ve been shot. I was trying to help.” All 44 on the aircraft perish. The daughter of the the Captain, Julie Clark, goes on to become one of the first female airline Captains herself for Hughes Airwest and Northwest Airlines, and then going on to become an aerobatic pilot.
May 12: American flyer Joan Merriam Smith lands her Pipe Apache to complete the second round-the-world flight by a woman; she took 56 days.
June 6: Silver City Airways (British) announces that it has recorded the one-millionth car it has flown between the UK cross-Channel car ferry by air in 1948.
June 6: A U.S. Navy RF-8A Crusader photographic reconnaissance aircraft is shot down over Laos, becoming the first U.S. Navy aircraft and first American fixed-wing aircraft lost over Indochina in the Vietnam War era.
July 9: Pilot Bill Park took A-12 (939) to a record altitude of 96,250 feet. The A-12 crashed onlanding at Groom Lake due to an outboard aileron servo valve that was stuck. Pilot Bill Parks ejectedsafely.
July 25: President Johnson publicly revealed the existence of a new Air Force reconnaissance aircraft which he called the SR-71 instead of RS-71. The Air Force decided that it was easier to re-number the aircraft SR-71 than to correct the President. Thus we all know the aircraft as the SR-71 to this day.
July 31: Ranger 7 sends back the first ever close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.
July 31: A. H. Parker sets a new sailplane distance record of 1,000 km (621 miles) in a Sisu-1A.
August 2: The Tonkin Gulf Incident occurs. U.S. Navy aircraft are involved in skirmishes in the Gulf of Tonkin. F-8 Crusaders sink a North Vietnamese torpedo boat. Read more...
September 21: First flight of the North American XB-70 Valkyrie.
September 29: The 1st take-off and landing of the XC-142A vertical take-off transport is made in Dallas, Texas. The aircraft has four 2,850-hp General Electric turboprops mounted on the wings that can pivot 90 degrees to allow for a vertical take-off.
October 13: The first production Learjet, a Model 23, was delivered.
October 14: First flight of the Sikorsky YCH-53 Sea Stallion.
October 16: The People's Republic of China detonates its first nuclear weapon.
November 2: A U.S. Air Force HH-43F helicopter conducts the first night rescue by the Air Force's Air-Sea Rescue Service in Southeast Asia.
November 4: The first automatic blind landing by a passenger aircraft occurs when a British European Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident lands in dense fog.
November 26: Belgian paratroops are dropped into Congo by the U.S. Air Force.
November 28: NASA launches the first Mars fly-by spacecraft, Mariner 4.
December 7: Beale Air Force Base, California, announced as the home base for SR-71s. Beale AFB was the home base of the SR-71 throughout its entire career.
December 8: A United Lines Caravelle makes the first landing in the USA completely controlled by computer (automatic touchdown).
December 22: First captive flight test of an M-21 (940) and a D-21 drone. Pilot Bill Parks. First flight of an SR-71 (950) at Palmdale CA. Pilot Robert J. Gilliland. RSO seat empty.
December 24: 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, Calif. killing all three crewmembers. The Lockheed Constellation, registered N6915C, deviated from its flight plan for an unknown reason where downdraft activity and turbulence prevented the aircraft from climbing.

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