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On This Day in Aviation History

On This Day in Aviation History

1893 – Birth of William “Bill” Thaw II, an American World War I flying ace who also was the first to fly up New York’s East River under all four Manhattan bridges.

1915 – Royal Navy Flight Commander Charles Edmonds becomes the first pilot to attack a ship with an air-launched torpedo;  flying a Short Type 184 from the H.M.S. Ben-my-Chree, he strikes a Turkish supply ship that sinks in the Sea of Marmara.

1944 – Death of Joseph Patrick “Joe” Kennedy, Jr. (shown above), an U.S. Navy bomber pilot during World War II during Operation Aphrodite and older brother to future president John F. Kennedy; the bomb-laden BQ-8, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator converted to a radio-controlled drone, exploded before Joe Kennedy and co-pilot Wilford John Willy parachuted to safety.

1977 – First free flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

1985 – Japan Airlines flight 123, from Tokyo to Osaka, crashes when the Boeing 747 had an explosion, then hit Mount Otsuka, killing 520 of 524 people on board; it remains the deadliest single-aircraft accident in history.

2011 – The first untethered, fully electric manned helicopter flight is made by Frenchman Pascal Chretien.

Updated: August 12, 2013 — 11:34 AM

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