This is today’s Planelopnik History Speed Round, getting you caught up on milestones and important historical events in aviation from March 21 to March 24.
March 21, 1971 – First flight of the Westland Lynx helicopter, a British-built multi-purpose military helicopter. The Lynx was adopted by the armed forces of over a dozen nations, and primarily serves in the battlefield utility, anti-armor, search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare roles.
March 21, 1958 –Maiden flight of the Avro CF-105 Arrow. Less than a month later, the Arrow broke the sound barrier, flying at Mach 1.5 at an altitude of 50,000 ft. However, the Canadian government, in a move that is controversial to this day, canceled the project before before the Arrow entered production.
March 21, 1946 – A major reorganization of the United States Army Air Forces created the Strategic Air Command, the Air Defense Command, and the Tactical Air Command.
March 22, 1979 – The first flight of the Lockheed CP-140 Aurora. The Aurora is based on the P-3 Orion, and was originally built with the electronics suite from the Lockheed S-3 Viking. It is Canada’s only strategic Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft.
March 22, 1919 – Lignes Aériennes Farman (Farman Airlines) opens the first regular international commercial route between Paris and Brussels, operating a Farman F.60 Goliath. Farman operated until 1933 when its assets were incorporated into the newly created Air France airline.
March 23, 1948 – First flight of the Douglas F3D Skyknight, a carrier-based all-weather night fighter built for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. It served in Korea, claiming several Soviet-built MiG-15s during nighttime engagements.
March 24, 1944 – Flight Sergeant Nicholas Alkemade, an RAF tail gunner serving in an Avro Lancaster B Mk. II, jumped out of his burning aircraft without a parachute during a raid on Germany. Alkemade fell 18,000 feet into a forest, where tree branches slowed his fall, before coming to rest in deep snowdrift. Alkemade survived the fall with severe bruising and a sprained leg. He was captured, and finished the war as a POW in Stalag Luft III. Alkemade died in 1987.