Today in Aviation History MARCH 31 st

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1869 - Birth of George Holt Thomas, aviation industry pioneer and newspaper proprietor. Founder of the Aircraft Manufacturing Company Limited or Airco.

1884 - Birth of Desmond Arthur, Irish aviator in the Royal Flying corps. His name is connected to a ghost believed to haunt the airfield at RAF Montrose in Montrose, Angus, Scotland. The case is considered one of the most famous ghost stories from WWI, and was investigated by the British government

1891 - Birth of Antonio Reali, Italian WWI flying ace who also served in WWII -

1892 - Birth of Euan Dickson, British born New Zealander WWI bomber pilot and fighter ace, aviation pioneer, 1st person to fly across the Cook Strait. -

1894 - Birth of Oszkár Asboth, Hungarian aviation engineer often credited with the invention of the helicopter.

1895 - Birth of John Bruce Norton, British WWI flying ace

1900 - Birth of James "Jimmy" Robert Wedell, American racing pilot, record setter and aircraft designer.

1902 - Birth of Andrei Yumashev, Russian test pilot and record setter, WWII high ranking officer.

1903 - Richard Pearse is reputed to have made a powered flight in a heavier-than-air craft, a monoplane of his own construction, that crash lands on a hedge. This date is computed from circumstantial evidence of eyewitnesses as the flight was not well documented at the time. The machine made a flight claimed to be around 150 feet (45 m) on his farm at Upper Waitohi, near Timaru in south Canterbury, New Zealand

1909 - The Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), Canadian-American aeronautical research group is disbanded.

1912 - The world's 1st hydroplane competition, held in Monaco, over the past week, has been a runaway success for Farman biplanes. Belgian Jules Fisher is the overall winner. He is one of only two non-French pilots of the eight starters and flies a Henry Farman machine.

1915 - The sole Papin & Rouilly "Gyroptere", Air-Jet Helicopter, is lost on Lake Cercey, Cote d'Or, France, after it became unstable. The pilot had to abandon it, after which it sank. -

1921 – The Royal Australian Air Force is formed.

1924 - Imperial Airways Limited, early British commercial long range air transport company, is formed from the British Marine Air Navigation Company Ltd (three flying boats), the Daimler Airway (five aircraft), Handley Page Transport Ltd (three aircraft) and the Instone Air Line Ltd (two aircraft).

1926 - The sole Polikarpov DI-1 prototype crashed making speed runs over the measured kilometer at Khodynka Airfield at a height of 100 metres (328 ft) when the upper surface of the right upper wing ripped off, followed by the lower skin, killing both the pilot, V. N. Filippov, and the observer, V. V. Mikhailov.

1926 - Birth of Rocco Anthony Petrone, American engineer who was the 3rd director of the NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, director of launch operations at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), and then as Apollo program director at NASA Headquarters.

1927 - Birth of Major General Vladimir Sergeyevich Ilyushin, Soviet general and noted test pilot, and the son of aerospace engineer Sergei Ilyushin

1931 - Jean Mermoz and Antoine Pillard with the Bernard 80 GR 'Oiseau Tango' set a new endurance record on a closed course of 8960km in 59 Hrs and 13min. -

1931 - Transcontinental and Western Air Flight 599, Fokker F.10 Trimotor, en route from Kansas City, Missouri, to Los Angeles, California, crashed a few miles north west of Bazaar, Kansas shortly after a thunderstorm. Wing developed uncontrolled flutter and separated from the aircraft. All eight on board died. It prompted the first grounding of an aircraft type.

1934 - Birth of Grigori Grigoyevich Nelyubov, Soviet cosmonaut.

1936 – During the Battle of Maychew, Italian aircraft bomb Ethiopian troops heavily, helping to blunt a major Ethiopian attack.

1937 – A Spanish Nationalist ground offensive begins against the Basques, supported by 80 German aircraft based at Vitoria-Gasteiz and 70 Spanish Nationalist and Italian aircraft based elsewhere in northern Spain. Opposing them are 20 to 30 Basque aircraft. On the first day, German Junkers Ju 52 s conduct the first terror bombing and strafing of undefended towns in Europe, killing 250 people in Durango and Ochandiano. -

1939 - 1st flight of The Miles M.9 Master, British 2-seat monoplane advanced trainer.

1941 - The Royal Air Force places the new 4,000-lb (1,814-kg) high-capacity “Cookie” bomb – Its largest bomb to date and its 1st “blockbuster” bomb – Into service in a raid on Emden, Germany -

1944 – A Kawanishi H8K 'Emily' flying boat carrying Admiral Mineichi Koga, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy‘s Combined Fleet, disappears after taking off from Babelthuap; no wreckage or bodies are ever found. A second 'Emily' carrying Rear Admiral Shigeru Fukudome of Koga’s staff making the same trip crashes in a storm; Fukudome spends two weeks in the hands of natives on Cebu before being rescued. -

1946 - RCAF 435 Squadron disbanded at Down Ampney, UK. RCAF's second Far East transport unit formed during WWII. Flying DC-3 Dakota aircraft.

1946 - 1st flight of The Percival Prentice, British basic trainer of the Royal Air Force, low-wing monoplane with a fixed tailwheel undercarriage, in a side-by-side configuration with a rear seat provided.

1951 - F/L Joseph Auguste Omer Levesque, WWII flying ace, became the 1st Canadian to shoot down a Mig 15 in the Korean War, and the 1st Commonwealth pilot to score a victory in jet-to-jet combat. -

1957 - 1st flight of The Miles M.57 Aerovan version HDM.105, British twin engine short-range low-cost transport fitted with high-aspect ratio wing, designed by Hurel-Dubois.

1957 - 1st fligth of the prototype Breguet 1100 (based on Br 1001 Taon), single-seat ground attack and tactical light fighter for the french navy. -

1957 - Birth of Patrick Graham Forrester, United States Army officer and NASA astronaut.

1958 - Austrian Airlines begins service when a Vickers Viscount 779 took off from Vienna for London, England via Zurich.

1960 - Vertol became a Division of The Boeing Company with the title Boeing Vertol Company.

1965 - An Iberia Airlines Convair 440-62, crashed into the sea on approach to Tangiers killing 50 of 53 occupants. Initially the crash was blamed on sabotage but later revised to an engine stall.

1966 - Launch of Luna 10 (E-6S series), Luna program, robotic spacecraft mission, also called Lunik 10. It was the 1st artificial satellite of the Moon.

1969 - Death of Richard Pearman Minifie, Australian WWI fighter ace who also served as a squadron leader in the Air Training Corps of the RAAF during WWII. -

1970 – 9 terrorists from the Japanese Red Army hijack Japan Airlines Flight 351 at Tokyo International Airport, wielding samurai swords and carrying a bomb. The hostages were released at Fukuoka Airport and Seoul's Kimpo Airport. They then proceeded to Pyongyang's Mirim Airport, where they surrendered to North Korean authorities, who offered the whole group asylum.

1970 – Explorer 1 , 1st Earth satellite of the United States, re-enters the Earth's atmosphere after 12 years in orbit.

1972 - Launch of Kosmos 482, attempted Venus probe which failed to escape low Earth orbit.

1974 - Both the BOAC and BEA are dissolved and their operations merged to form British Airways -

1975 - A specially modified Royal Canadian Air Force de Havilland CC-115 (DMC-5 Buffalo - XC8A ACLS) makes its 1st flight carrying an inflatable air-cushion landing system beneath the fuselage.

1979 - 1st flight of the Aérospatiale SA-365N 'Dauphin' 2, French transport Twin turbine helicopter.

1986 - Flight 940 Mexicana Airlines (Compañia Mexicana de Aviación) Boeing 727-264 registered as XA-MEM departed from Mexico City. Fifteen minutes into the morning flight, the plane was observed to emit smoke, break in two, then crash into a mountain named El Carbon in the rugged Sierra Madre mountain range of central Mexico

1987 - Launch of Kwant-1 (Quantum-1), 1st module to be attached to the Mir Core Module, which formed the core of the Soviet space station Mir.

1987 - The French Armee de l'Air begins testing a Mirage III with verbal command recognition software. The system will allow the pilot to control the aircraft using spoken commands.

1988 - Death of Conway MacAlister Gray "Con" Farrell, Canadian WWI flying ace, well-known bush pilot, one of Canada's 1st air mail pilots. He returned to service during WWII, and postwar joined Canadian Pacific Air Lines, becoming 1st Manager of Repairs for them, Manager of Operations for the Orient. -

1989 - Wardair Ltd is sold to Canadian Airlines International.

1990 - 1st flight of the Robinson R44, four-place light helicopter

1991 - Launch of Almaz-1, 3rd Almaz-T spacecraft, part of highly secretive Soviet military space station program.

1995 - TAROM Flight 371 Airbus A310-324 'Muntenia', crashed near Balotesti in Romania shortly after it took off due to asymmetrical thrust, killing all 60.

1995 - 1st flight of The Grob Strato 2C,German experimental high altitude research aircraft, Powered by 2 turbocharged piston engines and featuring an extremely long span wing of composite construction.

1996 - The CH 136 Kiowa helicopter was retired from the CAF.

1996 - STS-76, Space Shuttle Atantis mission to MIR, is back on earth.

2002 - Swiss International Air Lines begins operations, taking over many routes from bankrupt Swissair. -

2008 – Aloha Airlines, a bankrupt airline, permanently ends passenger service.

2012 - Death of Wayne M. Hoffman, retired chairman of Tiger International, the Century City (Calif.)-based parent company of the Flying Tiger Line, once the world’s largest air cargo carrier. -