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On This Day: 1981

Aviation events for 1981

January 1: First flight of the LearAvia Lear Fan N626BL. Read more...
Pan Am - Pan American World Airways Boeing 707-321B (N419PA) at  Miami - International, United States
January 3: Pan Am retires the Boeing 707 from its fleet.
January 7: A Boeing 747 of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), China’s state airline, arrives at JFK Airport, N.Y., from Beijing via Shanghai and San Francisco; this is the first scheduled flight between these two countries since 1949 and inaugurates a weekly CAAC service.
January 18: Bell Helicopter delivers its 25,000th production helicopter.
February 1: Donald Douglas, founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company, dies at age 88.
February 12: Max Anderson and Don Ida make a failed attempt to circumnavigate the world by balloon. Their craft, the Jules Verne only covers 2,900 miles (4,667 km) from Luxor to New Delhi.
February 18: Aircraft industrialist Jack Northrop, co-founder of Lockheed Corporation and, later, founder of Northrop Corporation, dies at the age of 85.
February 21: NASA launches Comstar D-4.
February 21: Japan launches Hinotori satellite to study solar flares (580/640 k).
March 12: Soyuz T-4 carries 2 cosmonauts to Salyut 6 space station.
March 19: workers killed in space shuttle Columbia accident. The final major test still between Columbia and its first voyage into orbit was a "dry" countdown demonstration test -- a full-dress rehearsal for the astronauts and the launch team. The test went as planned, but a tragic accident claimed the lives of two Rockwell technicians when they entered Columbia's aft engine compartment while it was still being purged with gaseous nitrogen.
March 22: Soyuz 39 carries 2 cosmonauts (1 Mongolian) to Salyut 6.
March 25: Piedmont Airlines announces an order for eight more Boeing 737s with options for 20 more, to begin delivery in 1982. The order makes their 737 fleet the largest in the world.
March 28: First flight of the Dornier 228 D-IFNS.
April 3: Pan Am founder Juan Trippe dies in Los Angeles.
April 10: First flight of the SIAI Marchetti S.211 I-SITF. Read more...
April 10: Computer glitch keeps Space Shuttle Columbia grounded.
April 12: The US Space Shuttle program takes off with the first launch of Space Shuttle Columbia on mission STS-1. The flight crew, consisting of only two—Commander John W. Young and Pilot Robert Crippen—spend 54 1/2 hours in orbit. Read more...
April 14: 1st Space Shuttle-Columbia 1-returns to Earth.
April 30: Peoplexpress Airlines commenced operations.
May 7: Austral Lineas Aereas Flight 901, a BAC-111 (LV-VOX) crashes 9 miles out on approach to Buenos Aires-Jorge Newbery Airport in Argentina. While in a holding pattern over the Río de la Plata, the aircraft succumbs to a violent thunderstorm, killing all 31 onboard after crashing into the river.
June 1: First flight of the Shorts 360.
June 5: The KC-10 completed qualification testing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
June 7: Israeli Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons make a long-range strike into Iraq to destroy the nuclear reactor at Osirak.
June 18: First flight of the F-117 Nighthawk.
July 3: The first international service with the Ilyushin Il-86 begins with an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to East Berlin, East Germany.
July 7: The first solar-powered aircraft flight across the English Channel is made by the MacCready Solar Challenger. The 180 mile flight takes over 5 hours and is powered by at least 16,128 solar cells on the upper surfaces of the wing and tailplane.
July 31: The leader of Panama, Omar Torrijos, is killed in the crash of a DeHavilland Twin Otter at Amador near Panama City, Panama.
August 1: First flight of the Lockheed TR-1 Dragonlady. Read more...
August 3: in what would become a historical milestone in 20th century labor relations, roughly 13,000 of the 17,500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walk out from their jobs in America’s airport control towers in an attempt to cripple the nation’s transportation system and force the Federal government to accede to their contract demands. President Ronald Reagan would respond with a hardline stance, declaring their illegal strike a “peril to national safety” and ordering them back to work within 48 hours or face termination from their jobs. All but 1,300 controllers take a bet that the president is bluffing–and they lose–when on August 5th, Reagan fires the 11,345 controllers who continued to strike and permanently bans them from federal service. By replacing the fired controllers with non-union controllers, supervisors, and military controllers, as well as cutting in half the number of flights during peak periods, the FAA’s strike contingency plan would turn out to be a success. Public support for the fired controllers is low, as they had already been paid well above most Americans prior to the strike, and their contract demands would have earned them significantly more money while requiring they do less work. The union would be decertified a few months later.
August 19: Two United States Navy F-14 Tomcats shoot down two Sukhoi Su-22s of the Libyan Air Force over the Gulf of Sidra.
September 3: McDonnell Douglas delivers the 1,000th DC-9 produced; it was ordered by Swissair.
September 3: First flight of the BAe 146 G-SSSH. Read more...
September 10: British Airways CEO Roy Watts announces a financial crisis for the airline. He states that the company is losing £UK 200 per minute.
September 26: First flight of the Boeing 767-200.
October 2: President Ronald Reagan announces the order of 100 Rockwell B-1B Lancer strategic bombers, re-starting the stalled program.
October 6: NLM Cityhopper Flight 431 encounters a tornado, loses a wing, breaks up in air, and crashes near Moerdijk, Netherlands.
November 5: First flight of the AV-8B Harrier II 161396.
November 12: Space Shuttle Columbia performs mission STS-2, the first time that a manned, reusable aircraft returned back into space.
November 13: Ben Abruzzo and crew make the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean by balloon, in the Double Eagle V.
November 21: Aeroflot is banned from flying to the United States, after an earlier Aeroflot flight that overflew American military installations, straying from its supposed flight path.

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