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Jets and Rocket Flight Timeline

1963 Flight Timeline

The McDonnell F-4C Phantom was the primary fighter plane for both the United States Navy and Air Force in the Vietnam War.
The McDonnell F-4C Phantom was the primary fighter plane for both the United States Navy and Air Force in the Vietnam War.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 7, 1963 The Short Skyvan prototype flies.

January 7-13, 1963 U.S. Navy helicopters fly extensive rescue missions in flooded areas in Morocco, rescuing 320 people.


January 17, 1963 Joe Walker earns astronaut wings by flying a North American X-15 to 271,000 feet, essentially out of Earth's atmosphere.

January 26, 1963 The Hiller OH-5A helicopter makes its first flight.

January 29, 1963 A Walleye television-guided bomb demonstrates automatic homing; the device will be used extensively in Vietnam and beyond.

February 22, 1963 An LC-130F Hercules makes the longest flight in history over Antarctica: 3,470 miles from McMurdo Station over the South Pole to the Shackleton Mountains.

April 10, 1963 American Airlines pilot Wylie H. Drummond sets a national record for commercial jets by flying from Los Angeles to New York (2,474 miles) in 3 hours and 38 minutes at a speed of 680.9 miles per hour.

April 18, 1963 The Northrop X-21A (modified Douglas B-66) makes its first flight.

April 30-May 12, 1963 Betty Miller becomes the first woman to fly the Pacific solo, in four hops from Oakland, California, to Brisbane, Australia.

May 1, 1963 Jacqueline Cochran flies a TF-104G (two-seat) Starfighter to set a 100-kilometer closed-course record for women at 1,203.686 miles per hour.

May 7, 1963 Famed aviation and space pioneer Theodore von Karman dies in Aachen, Germany, just before his 82nd birthday.

May 8, 1963 Two squadrons of Douglas A-1E Skyraiders are added to the First Air Commando Group at Hurlburt Air Force Base for use in Vietnam.

May 19-21, 1963 Colonel James B. Swindal, in a VC-137C (Air Force One) sets 30 world records in flight from Washington to Moscow and back.

May 27, 1963 The first USAF version of the Phantom II, the F-4C, makes its first flight.

June 13, 1963 A Phantom II and a Crusader make the first fully automatic, hands-off carrier landings on the USS Midway.

June 14-19, 1963 The first woman in space, Soviet Junior Lieutenant Valentina V. Tereshkova completes 48 Earth orbits in Vostok 6.

June 20, 1963 The Navy ends seaplane pilot training with a last flight in a Martin Marlin.

June 27, 1963 Colonel Robert Rushworth takes a North American X-15 to 285,000 feet, earning his astronaut's wings.

July 19, 1963 Joe Walker flies a North American X-15 to 347,000 feet at 3,710 miles per hour.

August 7, 1963 Ben Greene establishes a record for Class D gliders with a 457.97 mile flight from Texas to Idaho.

August 20, 1963 The BAC 111 twinjet transport makes its first flight.

September 3, 1963 Milt Thompson lands a wingless M-2 lifting body reentry glider after a drop at 13,000 feet.

October 1, 1963 Admiral James R. Reedy makes the first transpolar nonstop flight in a Lockheed C-130.

October 16, 1963 Major Sidney J. Kubesch sets three world records in a Convair B-58 during a flight from Tokyo to London. He makes the flight in 8 hours and 35 minutes, averaging 692.7 miles per hour.

December 17, 1963 The Lockheed C-141A transport debuts in a 55-minute flight at Dobbins Air Force Base, Georgia.

December 21, 1963 The Hawker Siddeley Andover transport debuts.