Boeing engineers had never envisaged the 747 as part of a composite aircraft, intended to let the Space Shuttle Enterprise be launched for glide flights to the ground. The first approach and landing test was in 1977.

Peter M. Bowers Collection

1976 Flight Timeline

January 21, 1976 The Concorde begins supersonic passenger service.

February 10, 1976 Pioneer 10 crosses the orbit of Saturn on its way out of the solar system.

March 24, 1976 A Boeing 747 SP sets a world record by flying 10,290 miles nonstop from Paine Field, Washington, to Capetown.

April 5, 1976 Aviation pioneer and reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes dies at the age of 70.

May 20, 1976 The Bell AH-IT Sea Cobra makes its first flight.

May 26, 1976 The Dassault Mirage F1-B makes its first flight.

June 5, 1976 A Tomahawk missile undergoes its first in-flight launch; it is released from the wing of an A-6 Intruder.

June 24, 1976 The Navy accepts the first Beech T-34C turboprop trainer.

July 3-4, 1976 The Israelis rescue hostages in a raid on Entebbe, Uganda, destroying 11 MiGs.

July 20, 1976 The indigenous Israeli fighter, Kfir, is demonstrated publicly.

July 28, 1976 A Lockheed SR-71, piloted by Captain E. W. Joersz and Major G. T. Morgan, sets a world speed record of 2,193.1 miles per hour.

July 28, 1976 A Lockheed SR-71 sets an altitude in sustained/level flight record of 85,069 feet; it is piloted by Captain Robert Helt and Major Larry Elliot.

August 9, 1976 The Boeing YC-14 prototype flies; it will compete with the YC-15.

September 6, 1976 Lieutenant Viktor I. Belenko flies a MiG-25 to Japan, defecting from the Soviet Union.

September 17, 1976 The Space Shuttle Enterprise is rolled out in Palmsdale, California.

October 6, 1976 The AV-8 Harrier is deployed overseas for the first time on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.

October 12, 1976 The Sikor-sky Model 72 prototype debuts.

November 7, 1976 The Dassault-Mystère Falcon 50 executive jet transport makes its first flight.

December 2, 1976 The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747, makes its first flight.

December 22, 1976 The Ilyushin Il-86 wide-body transport makes its first flight.

December 23, 1976 The Sikorsky S-70 wins the U.S. Army competition; it will be designated the UH-60A.