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On This Day: 1976

Aviation events for 1976

January 15: US-German Helios B solar probe launched into solar orbit.
January 16: Helios 2 - USA & West Germany Solar Probe launched. Solar probe came within 43 million kilometers of the Sun.
January 17: Hermes rocket launched by European Space Agency.
January 21: First passenger services by a supersonic airliner are begun, as British Airways and Air France Concorde supersonic transports take off simultaneously for Bahrain and Rio de Janeiro.
January 29: Zeiss planetarium in Hague destroyed by fire.
March 17: A JAL Boeing 747 makes the first Tokyo to New York flight nonstop in 11.5 hours, covering 6,300 miles.
April 1: Lufthansa’s first two Airbus A300Bs enter service. They will fly between Frankfurt and Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart and London.
April 5: Howard Hughes dies aboard a Learjet, aged 70.
April 9: Air France opens its second supersonic service, from Paris to Caracas, Venezuela; the Concorde takes six hours, including a stop at the Azores.
April 27: American Airlines Flight 625, a Boeing 727 (N1963) goes off the end of the runway while attempting to land at Harry S. Truman Airport on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (STT) killing 37 of the 88 people on board. The crew of the flight, which originated in Providence, Rhode Island (PVD) with a stop in New York (JFK) attempted a go around after touching down more than half the distance down the short 4,658 foot runway. When the captain felt no acceleration after pushing the throttles, he panicked and applied full brakes, without pushing the nose down nor applying reverse thrust. The aircraft went off the end with a nose up attitude of 9 degrees, at a speed of 132 knots, and hit a Shell gas station.
May 3: Pan Am’s 747SP Clipper Liberty Bell returns after a world record for a round-the-world flight of 1 day, 22 hours, 26 minutes: it took off on May 1 and refueled in Delhi and Tokyo.
May 24: Two Concorde supersonic airliners – one in British Airways colors, the other in those of Air France – land at Washington’s Dulles International Airport. They are the first Concordes to visit the USA.
June 27: An Air France Airbus A300 (registration F-BVGG) operating flight AF139 from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens was hijacked shortly after departing Athens. After refuelling in Benghazi, Libya, the hijackers demanded it be flown to Entebbe, Uganda. One hostage was freed in Benghazi and in Uganda another 155 non-Israeli and/or non-Jewish hostages were released. The flight crew remained with the hostages after Captain Bacos insisted he was responsible for them. After several days of negotiating and diplomatic interventions, Israel launched a commando raid into Entebbe to free them. During the assault all six of the hijackers were killed as were three hostages. The leader of the assault, Yoni Netanyahu, was also killed. One hostage, 75 years old Dora Bloch, was unaccounted for. She had been taken to Mulago Hospital prior to the assault and later killed on Idi Amin's orders.
July 3: Three Israeli Air Force C-130 Hercules carry commandos to Entebbe, Uganda to rescue the 258 passengers of an Air France Airbus hijacked six days earlier. This is the operation Entebbe.
July 27: SR-71 sets 100 KM closed course world speed record at 2092 mph.
August 7: The Viking 2 probe enters a Martian orbit after an 11 month trip from Earth.
August 9: First flight of the Boeing YC-14 72-1873.
August 12: First flight of the Aermacchi MB-339 I-NOVE.
August 13: The Bell Model 222, the first twin-engined light commercial helicopter, developed in the United States, makes its first flight, powered by the 650 SHP Avco Lycoming LTS 101-650C.
August 24: Shorts 330 enters service with Time Air.
September 6: Viktor Belenko of the Soviet Union defects to the West, landing his MiG-25 Foxbat in Japan.
September 14: A F-14 Tomcat rolls off the deck of USS John F. Kennedy and sinks in international waters. A major salvage operation is launched to retrieve the fighter lest it fall into Soviet hands.
September 17: NASA unveils the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the first space shuttle orbiter. Though not constructed to enter space (it was not built with engines or a proper heat shield), it was used for approach and landing tests Dryden Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. The Enterprise currently resides as a museum piece at the Steve F. Udvar-Hazy Museum outside Dulles International Airport.
September 18: Death of legendary test pilot Albert Boyd.
September 19: A Turkish Airlines Boeing 727 (registered TC-JBH) crashes into a mountain while on approach to Antalya, Turkey. It was later learned that the pilots were referencing the approach charts for a different airport.
October 1: After his 1973 RTW attempt was aborted by bad weather between Hokkaidō and the Aleutian Islands, Don Taylor of California successfully circumnavigates the world (Oshkosh eastbound to Oshkosh) in his Thorp T-18, the first aviator to do so with a homebuilt aircraft.
October 6: Cubana Flight 455, a Douglas DC-8, bombed by Anti-Castro terrorists.
October 12: The NASA/U.S. Army rotor systems research aircraft produced by Sikorsky as the S-72 makes its first flight.
October 13: Midway Airlines is founded.
October 29: Last flight of the Big Tail SR-71 (959).
November 7: First flight of the Dassault Falcon 50 F-WAMD.
December 2: The Boeing 747 SCA, an ex-American Airlines airliner which has been adapted to carry the US reusable space shuttle, makes its flight.
December 16: First flight of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft NASA905.
December 22: First flight of the Ilyushin Il-86.

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