This Day In Aviation History

  • 24 March 2000
    The first Super Jolly Green Giant, Sikorsky HH-53B 66-14428, now upgraded to an MH-53J Pave Low IIIE Enhanced, assigned to the 551st Special Operations Squadron, 58th Special Operations Wing, in flight near Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, 24 March 2000. (Master Sergeant Dave Dolan, U.S. Air Force) 24 March 2000: In flight near Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, is this Sikorsky MH-53J Pave Low IIIE, a “Super Jolly Green Giant”… Read more »
  • 24 March 1960
    Tupolev Tu-114 CCCP-76459, holder of nineteen FAI World Records for Speed. (Уголок неба) 24 March 1960: Over a 1,000-kilometer course at Sternberg Point Observatory,¹ a Tupolev Tu-114 Rossiya four-engine turboprop airliner, serial number 88402, registered CCCP-76459, set eight Fédération Aéronautique Internationale flight records, including a world speed record of 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour), while carrying a load of 25,000 kilograms (55,115.6 pounds).² Colonel Ivan Moiseevich Sukhomlin.… Read more »
  • 24 March 1960
    Joseph Albert Walker in the cockpit of North American Aviation X-15A 56-6670, after a flight, 1960. (NASA) 24 March 1960: After North American Aviation’s Chief Engineering Test Pilot, Albert Scott Crossfield, had made the first flights in the new X-15 hypersonic research rocketplane (one gliding, eight powered), NASA Chief Test Pilot Joseph Albert Walker made his first familiarization flight. The X-15, 56-6670, the first of three built by North American… Read more »
  • 24 March 1944
    Stammlager Luft III prison in Province of East Silesia, World War II. (Muzeum Obózow Jenieckich W Żaganiu) 24 March 1944: At about 2230 hours, the first of 76 Allied prisoners of war interred at Stammlager Luft III (Stalag Luft III) began to escape through a 30-foot-deep (9 meters), 320-foot-long (98 meters) tunnel, code-named “Harry.” The prison, located just south of Sagan (Żagań) in East Silesia (now a part of Poland)… Read more »
  • 24 March 1939
    Jackie Cochran with her Beechcraft D17W, NR18562. (FAI) 24 March 1939: During a 2 hour, 26 minute flight over southern California, Jacqueline Cochran established a U.S. National Altitude Record for Women of 9,160 meters (30,052 feet). She flew a Beechcraft D17W “Staggerwing,” serial number 164, registered NR18562. A National Aeronautic Association official, Larry Therkelson, took the recording barograph from the airplane and sent it to the N.A.A. headquarters in Washington,… Read more »
  • 23 March 1965
    Gemini III lifts off at Launch Complex 19, Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Cape Canaveral, Florida, 14:24:00 UTC, 23 March 1965. (NASA) 23 March 1965: At 14:24:00 UTC, Gemini III was launched aboard a Titan II GLV  rocket from Launch Complex 19 at the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Major Virgil I. (“Gus”) Grissom, United States Air Force, a Project Mercury veteran, was the Spacecraft Commander, and… Read more »
  • 23 March 1948
    John Cunningham with the record-setting de Havilland DH.100 Vampire F.1, TG/278. Note the metal canopy with porthole. (BNPS). 23 March 1948: During a 45-minute flight over Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, the de Havilland Aircraft Company chief test pilot, Group Captain John Cunningham, D.S.O., flew a modified DH.100 Vampire F.1 fighter to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude of 18,119 meters (59,446 feet).¹ Cunningham broke the record set nearly… Read more »
  • Wernher von Braun: 23 March 1912–16 June 1977
    Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director, Marshall Space Flight Center, 1 May 1964. (NASA) 23 March 1912: Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun, rocket engineer, was born at Wyrzysk, Province of Posen, in the German Empire, in what is now Poland. He was the second of three children of Magnus Alexander Maximillian von Braun, head of the Posen provincial government, and Emmy Melitta Cécile von Quistorp. Wernher von Braun, at center,… Read more »
  • 22 March 1956
    Boeing P2B-1S, Bu. No. 84029, at Edwards AFB, 22 March 1956. (NASA) 22 March 1956: While carrying the U.S. Navy’s Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket, problems developed aboard both the research rocketplane and the “mothership.” The modified four-engine heavy bomber, a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-29-95-BW Superfortress (which had been transferred to the U.S. Navy and redesignated P2B-1S Superfortress), had a runaway propeller on the Number 4 engine, outboard on the right wing. The propeller… Read more »
  • 22 March 1948
    Tony LeVier in the cockpit of Lockheed TP-80C-1-LO 48-356, the prototype T-33A Shooting Star two-place trainer. (Jet Pilot Overseas) 22 March 1948: Just over one year since being injured when the prototype P-80A was cut in half by a disintegrating turbojet engine, Lockheed test pilot Anthony W. (“Tony”) LeVier made the first flight of the prototype TP-80C-1-LO, serial number 48-356, a two-place jet trainer. The airplane was redesignated TF-80C Shooting… Read more »