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On This Day in Aviation History

On This Day in Aviation History

1794 – Establishment of the first airship company in the French Army who use a balloon named Entreprenant for reconnaissance of the Austrian forces at the Battle of Fleurus. Two companies of balloon observers are formed, but disband the following year.

1944 – The first U.S. Army Air Forces Boeing B-29 Superfortress arrives at Calcutta, India, after an 11,530-mile trip from Kansas, which includes stops at Presque Isle, Maine; Gander, Newfoundland; Marrakech, Morocco; Cairo, Egypt; and Karachi. Its longest leg: a 2,700-mile, non-stop transatlantic flight between Gander and Marrakech.

1957 – First conventional flight of the Short SC.1 (shown above), the first British fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

1984 – Indian Air Force Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma is launched aboard Soyuz T-11, becoming the first Indian in space.

1997 – U.S. Air Force pilot Craig D. Button dies when he mysteriously crashes his Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft in the Colorado Rockies. Before the incident, Capt. Button inexplicably flew hundreds of miles off-course without radio contact, appeared to maneuver purposefully and did not attempt to eject before the crash. His death is regarded as a suicide; his aircraft carried live bombs, which were never recovered.

1997 – A Boeing 777, powered by twin Rolls-Royce Trent 892 turbofans, returns to Seattle, Wash., to set a new eastbound around-the-world speed record of 553 mph. En route, the twinjet sets a Great Circle distance without landing record of 12,455.34 miles when flying from Seattle to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Updated: April 2, 2013 — 9:19 AM

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