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On This Day in Aviation History

On This Day in Aviation History

1914 – Birth of Marmaduke Thomas St. John “Pat” Pattle, South African World War II fighter ace.

1941 – Luftwaffe Maj. Wilhelm Balthasar, a World War II fighter ace and winner of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, is killed in action when his Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 suffers wing failure and crashes in France, near Saint-Omer. The airframe is recovered in March 2004.

1950 – Grumman F9F Panthers of the U.S. Navy’s VF-51 “Screaming Eagles,” flying from the U.S.S. Valley Forge, become the first U.S. jet fighters to go into combat. A North Korean Yakovlev Yak-9 is shot down.

1976 – Three Israeli Air Force C-130 Hercules carry commandos to Entebbe, Uganda, to rescue passengers of an Air France Airbus A300 hijacked six days earlier. The mission, known as Operation Entebbe, is completed early the next day when 102 hostages are rescued.

1988 – Iran Air Flight 655, an Airbus A300, is shot down over Iranian waters by the missile cruiser U.S.S. Vincennes; all 290 people on board are killed.

2002 – American Steve Fossett (shown above) completes a round-the-world balloon flight, landing after 14 days, 19 hrs. He broke three balloon records along the way; fastest time around the world (13 days, 3 mins.), longest distance flown solo (20,483.25 miles) and longest time flown solo (355 hrs., 50 min.).

Updated: July 3, 2013 — 12:00 PM

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