Welcome to This Date in Aviation History, getting of you caught up on milestones, important historical events and people in aviation from June 27 through June 29.
For the second time in the history of This Date in Aviation History, there are no long range flights today. Please enjoy today’s collection of short takeoffs.
June 27, 1976 – The hijacking of Air France Flight 139. Air France Flight 139, an Airbus A300 (F-BVGG), departed Tel Aviv, Israel carrying 246 passengers and flew to Athens, where hijackers secretly boarded the plane along with other passengers. After departing for Paris, the hijackers took over the plane and flew it first to Libya, then Entebbe, Uganda. The hijackers demanded $5 million and the release of Palestinian militants, many of who were held in Israeli jails. On July 4, following unsuccessful negotiations, Israeli commandos stormed the airport where the hostages were being held and killed the hijackers, along with three hostages who were caught in the crossfire. One commando was killed by Ugandan soldiers as the hostages boarded planes to be flown out of the country.
June 29, 2011 – KLM becomes the world’s first airline to operate a flight using biofuel. Aviation currently represents 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, a number that is expected to rise significantly in the coming years, having already accounted for an 87% rise in greenhouse gas emissions in Europe alone between 1990-2006. One method sought to reduce these emissions is through the use of aviation biofuel, and NASA NASA research has shown that 50/50 mixture of aviation biofuel can cut air pollution caused by air traffic by as much as 70%. Following successful aviation industry tests which began 2007, KLM was the first to fly revenue passengers from Amsterdam to Paris in a Boeing 737-800 powered by used cooking oil. Work is continuing in the field in the hopes of producing a sustainable source of fuel that does not compete with the production of food or consume too much agricultural land.
June 29, 2007 – The first flight of the Piasecki X-49, an experimental compound helicopter designed to provide increased range and speed over traditional helicopters. Because of the limitations of their design, traditional helicopters are limited to about 260 mph, and the US Army’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, its standard utility helicopter, has a top speed of only 183 mph. The X-49 is a Sikorsky YSH-60F Seahawk that has been fitted with a vectored thrust ducted propeller (VTDP) and short swept wings in the hopes that the helicopter can reach speeds of up to 230 mph or more. The X-49 has made more than 80 test flights, and the concept remains under development.
June 29, 1995 – The first flight of the Bell 407, a civil utility helicopter that was derived from the extremely successful Bell 206 LongRanger. Where the earlier 206 employed a two-bladed rotor, the 407 employs a four-bladed rotor and hub that was developed as part of the US Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior program. The composite construction of the rotor blades and hub have no life limits, and a more powerful Rolls-Royce/Allison 250/C47 engine increases the maximum takeoff weight and improves performance in hotter temperatures and at higher altitudes. Over 1,000 have been built, and the 407 remains in production, proving popular with civil authorities, offshore transport, and as an air ambulance.
June 29, 1963 – The first flight of the Saab 105, a two-seat training aircraft that began as a private venture by Saab in hopes that the Swedish Air Force would select it to replace the de Havilland Vampire. Adopted by the Swedish Air Force in 1967 as the Sk 60, the 105 features side-by-side seating for better communication between the pilots and, though originally designed as a trainer, the 105 can be outfitted with either ground attack or air-to-air munitions depending on the mission. In addition to the crew of two, a small bench behind the pilots can accommodate two passengers. Following an engine upgrade, the 105 remains in service with Sweden and Austria, though Sweden is currently investigating a replacement for their older aircraft. Just under 200 were built between 1963-1972.
June 29, 1962 – The first flight of the Vickers VC10, a long-range airliner that was developed to operate on long-distance routes while still having the capability to operate from shorter runways and in hotter temperatures than contemporary airliners. The VC10 was powered by 4 Rolls-Royce Conway turbofan engines mounted on the tail and, with a top speed of 580 mph, the VC10 holds the record for the fastest atlantic crossing by a subsonic airliner. The VC10 was introduced with British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1964, and proved enormously popular for its load capacity, speed, and relatively quiet operation compared to other airliners. The VC10 also served the RAF as a transport, VIP and aerial tanker. A total of 54 were built, and it was retired from RAF service in 2013.
If you enjoy these Aviation History posts, please let me know in the comments. And if you missed any of the past articles, you can find them all at Planelopnik History. You can also find more stories about aviation, aviators and airplane oddities at Wingspan.