1968 in aviation
|Years in aviation:||1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971|
|Centuries:||19th century · 20th century · 21st century|
|Decades:||1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s|
|Years:||1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971|
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1968:
- In the 1968 White Paper on Defence, the British Labour government announces that the Royal Navy's aircraft carrier force will be phased out as soon as the United Kingdom has completed its withdrawal from Malaysia, Singapore, and the Persian Gulf, scheduled for the end of 1971.
- The original Golden West Airlines is founded, headquartered at Van Nuys, California.
- North Vietnamese Antonov An-2 utility biplanes conduct bombing raids into Laos and fly night missions against ships and craft of the South Vietnamese Navy.
- After the Soviet Union complains about damage to a Soviet merchant ship in Haiphong Harbor by American air attack, President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration promises to make every effort to avoid a recurrence of such damage.
- January 18–19 (overnight) – A U.S. Navy UH-2 Seasprite piloted by Lieutenant junior grade Clyde E. Lassen makes a daring rescue of downed fliers in North Vietnam. For his actions, Lassen will become the only U.S. Navy helicopter pilot to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.
- January 19 – A C-130 Hercules of U.S. Navy Air Transport Squadron 24 (VR-24) and U.S. Navy helicopters from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, deliver relief supplies to 40,000 people rendered homeless around Montevago by an earthquake in western Sicily.
- January 21 – A United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress carrying four nuclear weapons crashes in the sea near Thule Air Base in Greenland.
- February 1 – The Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy are disestablished as they merge with the Canadian Army to form the unified Canadian Armed Forces.
- The U.S. Air Force conducts reconnaissance flights over South Vietnam and Laos using Lockheed U-2s and over North Vietnam using SR-71 Blackbirds.
- The United States plans air strikes against North Korea in retaliation for the January 30 North Korean seizure of the United States Navy technical research ship USS Pueblo (AGER-2), but then cancels them.
- March 8 – The United States Army announces that Bell Helicopter's Model 206A has won the Light Observation Helicopter competition. It will go into production for the Army as the Bell OH-58 Kiowa.
- March 24 – Aer Lingus Flight 712, a Vickers Viscount 803, crashes into St. George's Channel off Tuskar Rock, County Wexford, Ireland, killing all 61 people on board. No cause for the crash is ever determined.
- March 27
- The first person to orbit the earth, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, is among two people killed in the crash of a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTI (NATO reporting name "Fagot") two-seat trainer 48 kilometers (30 miles) east of Moscow.
- A modern new terminal opens at Cyprus's only airport, Nicosia International Airport, with a capacity to handle 800 passengers and 11 airliners at one time. It will remain in use only until July 1974, when the Turkish invasion of Cyprus forces the permanent closure and abandonment of the airport.
- April 3 – President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration restricts American bombing of North Vietnam to targets south of the 19th Parallel.
- April 4 – In the Apollo Program, Apollo-Saturn mission 502 (Apollo 6) is launched as the second and last unmanned test flight of the Saturn V launch vehicle.
- April 5 – To protest against the lack of an aerial display to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force four days earlier and to demonstrate against the government of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock of the RAF's No. 1(F) Squadron makes an unauthorised display flight in a Hawker Hunter during which he "beats up" (i.e., buzzes) several RAF airfields and flies low over London, where circles the Houses of Parliament, dips his wings to the Royal Air Force Memorial, and flies under the top span of Tower Bridge, becoming the first person to fly under the bridge's upper span in a jet aircraft. He is arrested upon his return to base.
- April 8 – An engine falls off the BOAC Boeing 707-465 G-ARWE, operating as Flight 712, seconds after takeoff from London Heathrow Airport in England, setting the wing on fire. The aircraft makes a perfect emergency landing, but the fire then spreads, killing five and injuring 38 of the 127 people on board. Among the injured are Israeli ambassador to the Soviet Union Katriel Katz and pop singer Mark Wynter. For her heroism in evacuating passengers before herself dying in the fire, flight attendant Barbara Jane Harrison posthumously receives the George Cross, while Chief Steward Nevile Davis-Gordon receives the British Empire Medal for Gallantry and air traffic controller John Davis is appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
- April 14–19 – Over 100 U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress sorties, 200 U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps tactical aircraft sorties, and numerous aerial rocket artillery missions strike enemy positions in South Vietnam's A Shau Valley.
- April 19 – The U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) begins Operation Delaware in the A Shau Valley in South Vietnam, a helicopter-borne assault on North Vietnamese Army forces there. Facing heavy antiaircraft fire, it loses 10 helicopters shot down and 13 more damaged on the first day of the operation.
- April 20 – South African Airways Flight 228, the Boeing 707-344C Pretoria, crashes just after takeoff from J. G. Strijdom International Airport in Windhoek, South-West Africa (now Namibia), killing 123 of the 128 people on board. It remains the deadliest aviation accident in the history of Namibia.
- April 21 – National Airlines retires the last of its Lockheed L-188A Electra propjets and becomes an all-jet airline, operating a fleet of Douglas DC-8 and Boeing 727 airliners.
- April 25 – Apollo 6's SIV-B staqe re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and the Apollo 6 command module is recovered.
- April 28 – A Beechcraft 65 Queen Air crashes and burns near Beaumont, Texas, killing all seven people on board – all six members of the Lamar Tech track team and the pilot.
- April 29 – The Royal Netherlands Navy decommissions its last aircraft carrier, HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81). She will be sold to Argentina on October 15.
- The United States begins to use the AGM-78 Standard Antiradiation Missile (ARM) against North Vietnamese SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft artillery sites.
- The United States deploys electronic intelligence aircraft to Southeast Asia.
- Pan American World Airways serves 122 airports, more than any other U.S. airline. Frontier Airlines is second, serving 100 airports.
- May 3 – Braniff Flight 352, a Lockheed L-188A Electra, breaks up in midair after flying into a severe thunderstorm and crashes near Dawson, Texas, killing all 85 people on board. Among the dead is Joseph E. Lockridge of the Texas House of Representatives.
- May 5 – A Grumman Gulfstream II becomes the first executive jet to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
- May 16 – Air Micronesia begins flight operations.
- May 17 – Operation Delaware in South Vietnam's A Shau Valley comes to an end. The U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) has captured a large amount of North Vietnamese equipment and supplies but has faced the heaviest enemy antiaircraft fire it has encountered thus far in the Vietnam War, losing 21 helicopters shot down during the operation.
- May 22 – Los Angeles Airways Flight 841, a Sikorsky S-61L, crashes in a dairy farm in Paramount, California, killing all 23 people on board. It was the worst helicopter accident in the history of the United States at the time.
- May 23 – A ship-launched surface-to-air missile destroys an enemy aircraft for the first time in history when the U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN-9) shoots down a North Vietnamese MiG flying over North Vietnam with a RIM-8 Talos missile at a range of 65 nautical miles (75 statute miles; 120 km). It is the first of three North Vietnamese aircraft shot down by Talos missiles during the Vietnam War.
- The 101st Airborne Division is redesignated as the U.S. Army's second airmobile division and renamed the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). Its conversion into an airmobile division will not be complete for a year.
- June 5 – North Vietnam demands an unconditional end to American bombing of its territory.
- June 26 – Flying Tiger Line takes delivery of its first Douglas DC-8.
- July 1 – Seaboard World Airlines Flight 253A, a chartered Douglas DC-8 Super 63CF carrying 214 American troops on their way to South Vietnam and a crew of 24, strays into Soviet airspace during a flight from Seattle, Washington, to Yokota Air Base in Japan. Soviet MiG-17 (NATO reporting name "Fresco") fighters intercept the DC-8 and force it to land at Burevestnik airfield on Iturup Island in the Kurile Islands, where it spends two days before being allowed to proceed to Japan.
- July 3 – A BKS Air Transport Airspeed Ambassador carrying eight racehorses belonging to businessman William Hill crashes while landing at London Heathrow Airport in England. The aircraft cartwheels into the incomplete London Heathrow Terminal 1, striking and damaging two parked and empty British European Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident 1 airliners along the way. Six of the eight people aboard the plane and all eight horses are killed.
- July 13 – A Sabena Boeing 707 cargo aircraft (registration OO-SJK) strikes trees and crashes on approach to Lagos Airport in Nigeria, killing all seven people on board.
- July 23 – History's first Palestinian hijacking of an aircraft for purposes of political extortion takes place when three members of the Al-Asifa ("The Storm") unit of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijack El Al Flight 426, a Boeing 707 with 48 other people on board, during a flight from London Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom to Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, and divert it to Algiers Airport in Dar El Beïda, Algeria, just outside Algiers. announcing that the have named the airliner Liberation of Palestine. They release the 26 non-Israeli passengers the following day and 10 more women and children five days later. They release the 12 remaining hostages unharmed on 1 September in exchange for between 16 and 24 Arab prisoners held in Israel, after which an Air France crew flies the airliner back to Israel.
- The British government purchases Beagle Aircraft to ensure the continued development and production of light aircraft in the United Kingdom.
- August 13 – Swedish Count Carl Gustav von Rosen defies Nigerian air defences to fly in supplies to the Biafran rebels
- August 14 – Los Angeles Airways Flight 417 crashes at Compton, California, resulting in the loss of 21 lives. The accident aircraft was the prototype of the Sikorsky S-61L.
- August 20–21 (overnight) – Soviet paratroopers seize Prague Ruzyně International Airport in Prague, Czechoslovakia, facilitating the arrival there by air of additional Soviet troops and equipment as the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact begin their invasion of Czechoslovakia.
- August 28 – McDonnell Douglas completes the 3,000th F-4 Phantom II.
- August 31 – The Rolls-Royce RB.211 is successfully ground-tested.
- The United States introduces the Rockeye cluster bomb into service, employing it in the Vietnam War.
- The U.S. Navy introduces the EKA-3B Skywarrior into service, employing it over Vietnam. It is configured to serve both as an aerial tanker and as an electronic countermeasures aircraft.
- The U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN-9) shoots down a North Vietnamese MiG flying over North Vietnam with a RIM-8 Talos surface-to-air missile at a range of 61 nautical miles (70 statute miles; 113 km). It is the second of three North Vietnamese aircraft shot down by Talos missiles during the Vietnam War and the first since 23 May 1968.
- September 11
- Air New Zealand flies T. H. Williams, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's navigator, to Sydney to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their first trans-Tasman flight.
- Air France Flight 1611, a Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle III, catches fire in mid-air and crashes into the Mediterranean Sea off Nice, France, killing all 95 people on board. Among the dead is the French Army Général de division René Cogny.
- September 19 – A U.S. Navy F-8C Crusader fighter of Fighter Squadron 111 (VF-111) shoots down a North Vietnamese MiG fighter. It is believed to be the last American air-to-air victory in the Vietnam War until March 1970.
- September 20 – At the Farnborough Air Show at Farnborough, Hampshire, England, six members of the French Air Force die when their Breguet 1150 Atlantic crashes while performing a demonstration of the aircraft's ability to fly on a single engine.
- September 29 – A Grumman Goose on a routine air taxi flight in California from Los Angeles to Santa Catalina Island piloted by test pilot Bill Bridgeman crashes into the Pacific Ocean, killing Bridgeman. His body is never found.
- September 30 – The first Boeing 747 is rolled out.
- October 24 – National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) pilot William "Bill" Dana pilots the 199th flight of the North American X-15. Although not planned as such, it will be the last X-15 flight.
- October 25 – Northeast Airlines Flight 946, a Fairchild Hiller FH-227, crashes on Moose Mountain near Etna, New Hampshire, while descending on approach to a refueling stop at Lebanon, New Hampshire. Thirty-two of the 42 people on board die, and all 10 survivors suffer injuries.
- November 1
- November 4 – A man identifying himself as a "black nationalist freedom fighter" hijacks National Airlines Flight 186, a Boeing 727 with 65 people on board, during a flight from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Houston, Texas. He forces it to fly to Havana, Cuba. The hijacker robs the passengers before landing in Havana, then disembarks there and is arrested by Cuban authorities.
- November 8 – Two Italian men claiming to be members of the "International Command for Greece" hijack an Olympic Airlines Boeing 707 during a flight from Paris to Athens with 128 other people on board, threatening the flight crew with a gun and a hand grenade, and force the cabin to crew to hand out pamphlets expressing opposition to the rule of the Greek military junta. Announcing that the passengers are being punished for traveling to Greece, they order the airliner to return to Paris, where they surrender to French police officers at Orly Airport.
- November 22 – Attempting to land at San Francisco International Airport in San Mateo County, California, a Douglas DC-8-62 operating as Japan Airlines Flight 2 unintentionally lands in San Francisco Bay 2½ miles (4 km) short of the runway. All 107 people on board survive the mishap, and the aircraft itself is recovered 55 hours later.
- November 24 – Four men hijack Pan American World Airways Flight 281 during a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and force it to fly them to Havana, Cuba.
- December 2 – Wien Consolidated Airlines Flight 55, a Fairchild F-27B, suffers structural failure after encountering severe turbulence and crashes into Spotsy Lake at Pedro Bay, Alaska, killing all 39 people on board.
- December 12 – The Pan American World Airways Boeing 707-321B Clipper Malay, operating as Flight 217, crashes into the Caribbean Sea near Caracas, Venezuela, killing all 51 people on board. Among the dead is former Miss Venezuela Olga Antonetti.
- December 16 – The Indonesian airline PT Sempati Air Transport is founded. It will begin flight operations in March 1969, and in 1994 it will change its named to Sempati Air.
- December 20 – At Edwards Air Force Base, California, X-15 program personnel attempting a 200th flight of the North American X-15 find the base covered by snow. Deeming the highly unusual snowfall an omen, they decide against the flight and simply retire the aircraft instead. It is the end of the X-15 program.
- December 24 – Apollo 8 orbits the moon carrying Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders.
- December 26 – Two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine attack El Al Flight 253, a Boeing 707, with a submachine gun and hand grenades as it prepares to depart Athens, Greece, killing one passenger and seriously wounding a flight attendant before being arrested.
- December 27 – North Central Airlines Flight 458, a Convair CV-580, crashes into a hangar at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, while attempting a go around in poor weather at night, killing 27 of the 45 people on board and killing one and injuring six people on the ground.
- December 31 – MacRobertson Miller Airlines Flight 1750, a Vickers Viscount Type 720, loses more than half of its right wing near the end of a flight from Perth to Port Hedland, Australia, and crashes 28 nautical miles (32 miles; 51 km) south of Port Hedland, killing all 26 people on board.
- March 20 - LFU 205
- May 25 - Grumman EA-6B Prowler
- June 30 - Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
- Nord N 500 (tethered)
- August 2 – Aérospatiale SA 341 Gazelle
- April 12 – Beagle Pup with Shoreham Flying School
- December 20 – North American X-15
- Thetford, Owen, British Naval Aircraft Since 1912, Sixth Edition, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN 1-55750-076-2, p. 27.
- Nichols, CDR John B., and Barret Tillman, On Yankee Station: The Naval Air War Over Vietnam, Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1987, ISBN 978-0-87021-559-9, p. 156.
- Chinnery, Philip D., Vietnam: The Helicopter War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN 978-1-55750-875-1, p. 91.
- Chronology of Significant Events in Naval Aviation: "Naval Air Transport" 1941 -- 1999
- Nichols, CDR John B., and Barret Tillman, On Yankee Station: The Naval Air War Over Vietnam, Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1987, ISBN 978-0-87021-559-9, p. 157.
- David, Donald, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Nobles Books, 1997, ISBN 0-7607-0592-5, p. 111.
- planecrashinfo.com Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents: 1960s
- Chinnery, Philip D., Vietnam: The Helicopter War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN 978-1-55750-875-1, p. 114.
- Chinnery, Philip D., Vietnam: The Helicopter War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN 978-1-55750-875-1, p. 115.
- National Airlines history, at Nationalsundowners.com, the Organization of Former Stewardesses and Flight Attendants with the Original National Airlines.
- Treadway, James A., Hard Charger! The Story of the USS Biddle DLG-34, Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse, 2005, p. 119, ISBN 978-0-595-36009-3.
- Friedman, Norman, "The Navy's Ramjet Missile," Naval History, June 2014, p. 11.
- Chinnery, Philip D., Vietnam: The Helicopter War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN 978-1-55750-875-1, p. 116.
- Griffith, Adam, "Army Specialist E5 James Griffith Became a Pawn in a Geopolitical Game When His Troop Transport Was Forced to Land By Soviet Fighters," Military Heritage, January 2013, pp. 16-17, 65.
- "1968 crash at the Aviation Safety Network". Aviation-safety.net. 1968-07-13. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
- Skyjack: Chronology of Aviation Terrorism: 1968-2004
- Mondey, David, ed., The Complete Illustrated History of the World's Aircraft, Secaucus, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc., 1978, ISBN 0-89009-771-2, p. 93.
- Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 314.
- "British Air Show Crash Kills 6". St. Petersburg Times. September 21, 1968. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
- Hallion, Richard P., "Across the Hypersonic Divide," Aviation History, July 2012, p. 42.
- Aviation Safety Network: Hijacking Description
- Taylor 1969, p. 93.
- Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7607-0592-6, p. 24.
- Taylor 1969, facing p.1.
- Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7607-0592-6, p. 15.
- Mondey, David, ed., The Complete Illustrated History of the World's Aircraft, Secaucus, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc., 1978, ISBN 0-89009-771-2, p. 58.
- David, Donald, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Nobles Books, 1997, ISBN 0-7607-0592-5, pp. 110, 113.
- Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7607-0592-6, p. 93.
- Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7607-0592-6, p. 103.
- Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1969–70. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., 1969.