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Revolution in Flight Timeline

1972-1973 Flight Timeline
The Boeing B-52 was designed as a strategic long rifle, able to fly alone or in cells of three deep into the Soviet Union with powerful nuclear weapons. During the Vietnam War it became a tactical artillery barrage.
The Boeing B-52 was designed as a strategic long rifle, able to fly alone or in cells of three deep into the Soviet Union with powerful nuclear weapons. During the Vietnam War it became a tactical artillery barrage.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 5, 1972 President Richard Nixon announces the Space Shuttle program.

January 21, 1972 The Lockheed S-3A Viking antisubmarine warfare aircraft makes its first flight. It has twice the speed and range of the Grumman S-2 Tracker it replaces.

February 6, 1972 Lyle Shelton sets a time-to-climb record in an F8F2 Bearcat: 3,000 meters in 1 minute, 31 seconds.


February 14-25, 1972 The Soviets send Luna 20 to the moon; it digs samples and rockets them back to the Soviet Union.

March 24, 1972 The first McDonnell Douglas QF-4B target drone is delivered.

March 29, 1972 The Ryan BQM-34E, a supersonic Firebee II, is used in missile defense exercises for the first time.

April 6, 1972 The Navy conducts heavy air strikes against North Vietnam.

April 16-27, 1972 The Apollo 16 mission sets up a lunar astronomical observatory.

May 6, 1972 U.S. Navy pilots down two MiG-21s and two MiG-17s.

May 9, 1972 Operation Pocket Money, the mining of principal North Vietnamese ports, begins.

May 10, 1972 The Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II prototype ground-support aircraft debuts.

May 10, 1972 Navy pilots shoot down 10 MiGs; Lieutenant Randall Cunningham and RIO William Driscoll become aces with a triple victory over MiGs at Haiphong.

May 26, 1972 Cessna rolls out its 100,000th aircraft; no other company has approached this figure in total production.

May 30, 1972 The Northrop A-9A makes its first flight.

May 31, 1972 The Navy announces it has flown 3,949 sorties against North Vietnam during the month of May.

June 20, 1972 A new helicopter class altitude record of 40,820 feet is set by Jean Boulet in an Aerospatiale Lama.

July 26, 1972 Rockwell International wins the competition to build the Space Shuttle.

July 27, 1972 The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle makes its first flight.

August 5, 1972 An F-4J Phantom makes the first fully automated landing aboard a carrier, the USS Ranger.

August 11, 1972 The Northrop F-5E makes its first flight.

October 28, 1972 The Airbus Industrie A300 makes its first flight.

December 7-19, 1972 Apollo 17, the last flight in the program, is launched with Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt as crew.

December 18, 1972 Linebacker II bombing raids begin to bring the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table in Paris.

December 29, 1972 Heavy raids take place on Hanoi. The North Vietnamese go to the peace table.

January 12, 1973 The last Navy kill of the war is scored when an MiG-21 is shot down, bringing the total to 57 MiGs shot down.

January 27, 1973 The Vietnamese cease-fire is in effect.

March 29, 1973 The United States' participation in the Vietnam War officially ends.

April 6, 1973 NASA launches Pioneer 11 on a flyby to Jupiter and Saturn.

April 10, 1973 The Boeing T-43A, a navigator trainer version of the 737, debuts.

May 14, 1973 NASA launches the Skylab 1 space station; crews are sent up separately later.

May 25-June 22, 1973 Charles Conrad, Joseph Kerwin, and Paul Weitz, the first Skylab crew, board Skylab.

June 1, 1973 The first General Dynamics F-111Cs are delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force.

July 25, 1973 The Mikoyan Ye-266 sets a new altitude record of 118,898 feet.

August 1, 1973 The Martin X-24B lifting body, piloted by John Manke, makes a glide flight after being dropped from a Boeing B-52 mother ship.

August 16, 1973 A Grumman F-14 shoots down a QT-33 target drone with a Sparrow­hawk missile.

October 6, 1973 Surprise air attacks by Arab forces open the Yom Kippur War.

October 19-24, 1973 Twenty-four Douglas A-4s are supplied to Israel.

October 21, 1973 The pioneer of aerial refueling, Sir Alan Cobham, dies at age 79.

October 26, 1973 The Alpha Jet trainer prototype makes its first flight; it is manufactured jointly by Dornier and Dassault/Breguet.

November 3, 1973 The United States launches Mariner 10 to go to Venus and Mercury.