On This Day in Aviation History DECEMBER 31st

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1893 - Birth of Willi Gabriel, German WWI flying ace, stunt movie pilot who also served in WWII. -

1896 - Birth of Mieczyslaw Sylwester Garsztka, Polish WWI flying ace, Instructor, and pilot during the Polish-Ukrainian war. -

1896 - Birth of Roy Williamson Chappell, British WWI flying ace, intelligence specialist on Japan and the Japanese military who served through the end of WWII. -

1898 - Birth of Ernest Hardcastle, British WWI flying ace (observer/gunner), who also served in WWII -

1904 - Birth of Charles Fauvel, French aircraft designer noted for his flying wing designs, and in particular, his flying wing sailplanes.

1908 - Wilbur Wright at Auvours, France, makes the 1st flight over 2 hours. He flies for 2 hours and 20 minutes, covers 77 miles, and wins the Michelin Cup

1909 - 1st flight of the Ferguson Tractor monoplane, early Irish aircraft, Designer Henry George "Harry" Ferguson becoming thus the 1st person to fly in Ireland, 1st Briton to build and fly his own aeroplane. -

1910 - Samuel Franklin Cody wins the Michelin cup covering a distance of 298.47km in a time of 4 hours 47 minutes with his 2nd Biplane.

1910 - Death of John Bevins Moisant, American aviator. Caught in a gust of wind as he was attempting to land, he was thrown from his Bleriot monoplane landing on his head. He designed, built and flew the first metal aircraft, an experimental aluminium plane, in 1909.

1910 - J. C. Bud Mars makes the 1st powered airplane flight in Hawaii from a Moanalua field in a Curtiss P-18 biplane 'Skylark', leaving Hawaii angry that more people hadn’t paid to see him fly; instead they watched for free from surrounding hilltops. -

1910 - Death of Archibald Hoxsey, early American pioneer aviator for the Wright brothers, while trying to set a new flight altitude record with a Wright model B in Los Angeles.

1913 - French Georges Legagneux sets an altitude record of 6,120 metres (20,079 feet) in his Nieuport Type IIN at St Raphael in France.

1913 - Birth of Pierre Decroo, French WWII Fighter pilot and test pilot.

1913 - Orville Wright demonstrate a Wright Model E equipped with his "automatic stabilizer", 1st automatic pilot control. It used a wind driven generator and pendulums to drive the wing warping controls.

1915 - Birth of Lee L. Davenport, American physicist responsible for the development and deployment of Radars during WWII.

1917 - Death of Karl Meyer, German WWI flying ace, from wounds received 3 days before.

1917 - Death of Alwin Thurm, German WWI flying ace, killed in action

1918 - Death of Friedrich Ritter von Röth, German WWI fighter and balloon busting ace. -

1922 - A Dornier Komet of Deutshe Luft Reederei makes the 1st landing of a German aircraft on English soil since the Armistice, when it arrives at Lympne.

1927 - The sole Latécoère 23, French twin-engined parasol winged flying boat, spun in during landing approach, killing everyone.

1930 - Swiss airlines Ad Astra Aero and Air Basel AG (Balair) are merged together to form later Swissair.

1933 - The Latecoere 300, French 4 tandem engine flying boat achieved an international record by covering 3,679km non-stop between Berre Lake near Marseille and Saint-Louis, Senegal.

1934 - Helen Richey becomes the 1st woman in the USA to pilot an airmail transport on a regular schedule. She flies a Ford Tri-motor aircraft on a route from Washington DC to Detroit in Michigan.

1938 - An Arado Ar 79, German aerobatic two-seat trainer and touring aircraft, sets a speed and endurance record with a jettisonable 106 L (28 US gal) fuel tank and extra 520 L (140 US gal) tank behind the cabin, completing a non-stop 6,303 km (3,917 mi) flight from Benghazi, Libya to Gaya, India, at an average speed of 160 km/h (100 mph).

1938 - 1st flight of the Potez 63.11, Reconnaissance variant of the french The Potez 630 twin engine fighter.

1938 - 1st flight of The Boeing Model 307 Stratoliner, American 4 engine airliner, 1st commercial transport aircraft with a pressurized cabin, 1st land-based aircraft to include a flight engineer as a crew member.

1939 - 1st flight of the SNCASE SE-400, French twin-engined coastal patrol floatplane prototype. -

1943 - 1st flight of The Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden 'George', Japanese fighter, production version of the N1K1 prototype and the N1K1-J

1943 - Birth of Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., known professionally as John Denver, American singer/songwriter, activist, humanitarian, private pilot and finalist for the 1st citizen’s trip on the Space Shuttle in 1986. - -

1944 - Death of Vladimir Grigoryevich Yermolaev, Soviet aircraft designer, general-major of the aviation engineering service.

1947 - 1st flight of The Alekseyev I-21, Soviet twin-engined, single-seat, jet fighter prototype.

1948 - Birth of Viktor Mikhailovich Afanasyev, Russian air force pilot and Cosmonaut.

1951 - 1st flight of The Fauvel AV.36, French single-seat tailless glider. -

1952 - The SFECMAS (Société Française d'Étude et de Construction de Matériels Aéronautiques Spéciaux), is founded.'%C3%A9tude_et_de_construction_de_mat%C3%A9riels_a%C3%A9ronautiques_sp%C3%A9ciaux

1953 - Death of Albert Plesman, Dutch pioneer in aviation and co-founder of KLM.

1954 - Death of Alfred Alexander "Ack-Ack" Leitch, Canadian WWI flying ace -

1956 - Birth of Martin Joseph Fettman,  American pathologist, researcher and NASA astronaut.

1960 - Death of Clarence Decatur "C. D." Howe, powerful Canadian Cabinet minister and businessman who took major parts in many new enterprises, including the founding of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Trans-Canada Air Lines (today Air Canada).

1962 - Death of Raymond Delmotte, French Aviator, Air racer and Caudron chief-test pilot.

1968 - 1st flight of The Tupolev Tu-144 'Charger', Soviet supersonic transport aircraft (SST) and world's 1st supersonic transport aircraft to fly. It remains one of only two SSTs to enter commercial service.

1968 - MacRobertson Miller Airlines Flight 1750 Vickers Viscount Type 720 crashed 28 nautical miles (52 km) short of Port Hedland, Western Australia killing all 26, after More than half of the right wing, from outboard of the inner engine to the wingtip, including the outer engine and its propeller, broke away from the rest of the aircraft in flight due to extensive metal fatigue cracking in the right wing spar.

1972 - Major League baseball player Roberto Clemente, traveling to Nicaragua for an earthquake relief effort, died after the Douglas DC-7F aircraft he was aboard crashed after takeoff off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The aircraft was overloaded and lost 2 engines on take off. -

1985 - Death of Eric Hilliard 'Ricky' Nelson, American singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and actor. Killed when his chartered DC-3C force-landed northeast of Dallas in De Kalb, Texas less than 2 miles from a landing strip due to In-flight fire in cabin under floor, impacting trees on rollout, killing 7 over 9. -

1986 - 1st flight of The IAI Lavi, Israelian combat aircraft prototype.

1989 - 1st flight of The Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker-C, Russian twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions aircraft.

1990 - Death of Vasily Grigoryevich Lazarev, Soviet air force pilot and Cosmonaut

1991 - Death of Leigh Wade, American Aviator, Raid and test pilot, WWII high ranking officer an retired USAF Major General.

1992 - Death of Frank Cecil Ransley, British WWI flying ace, one the WWI eldest aces. -

1999 - Fear of the Y2K computer bug and possible in-flight consequences for those planes flying during that night and the early morning of January 1, spreads around the airline industry.