Jets and Rocket Flight Timeline

The revolutionary Boeing 367-80 rolled out to an appreciative crowd on May 14, 1954. The 367-80 was used by Boeing as a test aircraft for many years, paving the way for the 707 airliner and the KC-135 tanker. See more pictures of flight.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 10, 1954 A BOAC Comet breaks up in the air near Elba, Italy; 35 people are killed.

February 25, 1954 The Convair R3Y-1 Tradewind makes its first flight; engine problems keep it from becoming more successful.

February 27, 1954 The Lockheed XF-104 Star­fighter makes its first flight.

March 1, 1954 The first hydrogen bomb is exploded in the Marshall Islands.

April 8, 1954 A BOAC Comet breaks up in the air south of Naples, Italy; an investigation shows fatigue cracks around the windows.

June 2, 1954 Soviet MiG-15s attack a Belgian DC-3 carrying a cargo of pigs.

June 22, 1954 The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk makes its first flight.

Flight Pictures 

July 15, 1954 The Boeing 367-80, a 707 prototype, makes its first flight. It will have a profound influence on civil jet designs.

July 23, 1954 A British-owned Douglas DC-4 is shot down by Chinese fighters off Hainan Island.

July 26, 1954 U.S. Sky­raiders shoot down two Chinese fighters that attacked them while they searched for DC-4 survivors.

August 1, 1954 James "Skeets" Coleman flies a Convair XFY-1 in vertical takeoff and landing.

August 3, 1954 An XF2Y-1 Sea Dart exceeds the speed of sound in a dive. It is the first water-based plane to do so.

August 4, 1954 The English Electric Lightning flies.

August 23, 1954 The Douglas X-3 Stilleto makes its first flight.

August 26, 1954 Major Arthur "Kit" Murray reaches 90,440 feet in a Bell X-1A rocket plane.

On August 26, 1954, Major Arthur "Kit" Murray set an altitude record of 90,440 feet in the Bell X-1A. He is shown here in the protective pressure suit of the time.
Peter M. Bowers Collection


September 29, 1954 The McDonnell F-101A Voodoo, a development of the XF-88, makes its first flight. It has two J57 engines.

October 6, 1954 The Fairey Delta 2 research aircraft makes its first flight.

October 17, 1954 The Sikorsky XH-39 sets a helicopter altitude record of 24,500 feet. It is piloted by Army Warrant Officer Billy I. Wester.

November 1, 1954 The last B-29 bomber is withdrawn from service.