Post-World War II Flight Timeline

The Lockheed XP-80 was the first operational jet fighter. See more flight pictures.
The Lockheed XP-80 was the first operational jet fighter. See more flight pictures.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 8,­ 1944 The Lockheed XP-80 makes its first flight. ­

Flight Pictures

February 23, 1944 The German Wasserfall surface-to-air missile is fired for the first time.


March 6, 1944 The first USAAF attack on Berlin takes place with 660 heavy bombers; 69 bombers and 11 escort fighters are lost.

March 10, 1944 The Blohm und Voss Bv 238 prototype debuts.

May 28-June 4, 1944 U.S. Navy airships K-123 and K-130 make the first nonrigid airship Atlantic crossing.

June 13, 1944 The first German V-1s are launched from France.

July 5, 1944 The Northrop MX-324, a rocket-powered plane, is flown for the first time by Harry Crosby.

July 28, 1944 The de Havilland Hornet, the fastest twin-engine fighter yet, makes its first flight.

August 4, 1944 A Gloster Meteor "tips" over a V-1 in the first jet success of the Allies.

August 4, 1944 The first Aphrodite mission is flown.

August 13, 1944 The USAAF uses GB-4 TV-guided bombs against E-boat pens on the European coast.

September 7, 1944 The first V-2 rocket is launched against England.

September 8-9, 1944 V-2 operations begin against Paris and England.

September 10, 1944 The Fairchild XC-82 makes its first flight.

October 23, 1944 The Japanese introduce Kamikaze attacks in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

November 12, 1944 Germany's Tirpitz is sunk by the RAF.

November 15, 1944 The Boeing XC-97 prototype flies for the first time.

November 24, 1944 The first major Boeing B-29 raid on Japan takes place.

December 6, 1944 The Heinkel He 162 Volksjaeger makes its first flight.

December 17, 1944 Major Richard Bong scores his final victory, number 40.

December 22, 1944 The uncrewed Bachem Natter vertical-launch rocket interceptor is launched for the first time.

January 1, 1945 Operation Bodenplatte takes place. It is the last major attack by the Luftwaffe.

January 3-4, 1945 RAF Mosquitos bomb Berlin, adding to the city's tension and despair.

January 20, 1945 Robert T. Jones formulates his swept-back wing theory.

January 24, 1945 Germany launches the A-9, a winged Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) designed for use against New York.

January 26, 1945 The McDonnell XFD-1 makes its first flight.

February 1, 1945 The Bachem Natter is tested with a pilot. The aircraft crashes, and the pilot is killed.

February 3, 1945 One thousand bombers of the Eighth AF attack Berlin.

February 7, 1945 The Consolidated-Vultee XP-81 composite-power fighter makes its first flight.

February 13-15, 1945 The attack on Dresden takes place.

February 21, 1945 The Hawker Sea Fury debuts.

February 22, 1945 Allies launch Operation Clarion with several thousand bombers and fighters.

February 23, 1945 The Luftwaffe sinks its last ship of the war, the Henry Bacon.

March 3, 1945 V-1 attacks continue from Holland against England.

March 9-10, 1945 Boeing B-29 fire-raids take place against Tokyo.

­March 14, 1945 The RAF drops a Grand Slam (22,000-pound) bomb on a key viaduct in Germany.


March 1945-November 1945 Flight Timeline

March 16, 1945 Organized resistance ends on Iwo Jima; Marine casualties: 6,891 dead, 18,070­ wounded.

March 18, 1945 The Douglas XBT2D-1 Skyraider makes its first flight.


March 20-21, 1945 The last Luftwaffe raid on England takes place.

March 27, 1945 The last V-2 rocket falls on England at Orpington.

March 31, 1945 The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which produced 54,098 pilots, is terminated.

April 1, 1945 Ohka Kamikaze planes hit the battleship USS West Virginia.

April 7, 1945 B-29s are accompanied to Japan by long-range fighters for the first time.

April 10, 1945 The Luftwaffe makes a last reconnaissance sortie over England using the Arado Ar.234 jet.

April 12, 1945 Ohka Kamikaze planes sink the destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele.

April 23, 1945 A U.S. Navy PB4Y-1 Liberator launches a Bat missile attack against Japanese shipping in Balikpapan Harbor.

April 25, 1945 Berchtesgaden (Hitler's residence) is destroyed by RAF bombers.

April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler commits suicide.

May 7, 1945 The RAF sinks the last German U-boat of the war.

May 8, 1945 VE day: Germany surrenders.

May 22, 1945 Japanese balloon bombs hit the U.S. West Coast.

May 23-24, 1945 The United States continues heavy air raids on Tokyo.

May 27, 1945 Japanese Kamikaze attacks intensify at Okinawa.

June 11, 1945 The B-29s that will ultimately carry the atomic bomb land in the Mariana Islands.

June 22, 1945 Organized resistance on Okinawa ends; Kamikaze attacks end.

July 2, 1945 The Japanese announce that all but 200,000 people have evacuated Tokyo.

July 10, 1945 U.S. carrier-based aircraft attack land targets in Japan.

July 16, 1945 The world's first atomic bomb is detonated at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

July 26, 1945 The Potsdam Declaration calls for Japan's unconditional surrender.

August 6, 1945 The first atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima from the B-29 Enola Gay.

August 7, 1945 The first Japanese jet, Nakajima's Kikka, makes its first flight.

August 8, 1945 The U.S.S.R. declares war on Japan.

August 9, 1945 A second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki from an AAF B-29.

August 14, 1945 The last B-29 mission against Japan takes place.

August 15, 1945 Japan announces its unconditional surrender.

August 17, 1945 Japanese fighters attack B-29s on reconnaissance flights; three enemy planes are shot down.

August 27, 1945 Air Marshal "Bomber" Harris announces retirement.

August 27, 1945 The United States begins extensive airdrops of supplies to prisoners of war in Japan, China, and occupied territories.

August 29, 1945 Major General Curtis LeMay takes command of the XX Bomber Command.

September 2, 1945 The Japanese sign surrender documents on the Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

September 12, 1945 A report is released on German developments: 19 jets and 6 rocket-powered types are on the drawing board.

September 20, 1945 The first turboprop aircraft, a modified Gloster Meteor with a Rolls-Royce Trent engine, flies.

­October 22, 1945 Air France reopens Paris to London service.


1945-1946 Flight Timeline

July 7, 1946 Howard Hughes is critically injured when his Hughes XF-11 aircraft crashes during a test flight.

July 11­, 1946 A Lockheed Constellation crashes during a training flight. All remaining Constellations are grounded; two earlier accidents also involved this aircraft.


July 21, 1946 Congress post-humously awards Billy Mitchell a medal, which promotes him to Major General.

August 8, 1946 The Convair prototype XB-36 bomber makes its first flight.

September 2, 1946 The Air University is opened at Maxwell Field.

September 27, 1946 Geoffrey de Havilland, Jr., is killed when his de Havilland D.H.108 breaks up in a test flight over Thames Estuary.

October 1, 1946 A U.S. Navy PV2-1 Neptune "Truculent Turtle" flies nonstop from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, Ohio, (11,236 miles) in 55 hours, 15 minutes.

October 6, 1946 The Pacusan Dreamboat, a B-29, makes a 9,442-mile flight over the North Pole, from Honolulu to Cairo, Egypt, in 39 hours, 35 minutes.

October 11, 1946 Slick Goodlin makes an unpowered flight in a Bell XS-1.

December 1, 1946 An American Overseas Airways Connie flies from New York to London in 10 hours, 12 minutes, averaging 324 miles per hour.November 6, 1945 A Ryan Fireball, using jet power only, lands on the USS Wake Island. It's the first jet to land on a carrier.

November 7, 1945 The Gloster Meteor IV sets a world speed record of 606.25 miles per hour.

November 20, 1945 A USAAF B-29 flies nonstop from Guam to Washington, D.C.: 8,190 miles in 35 hours, 4 minutes.

December 2, 1945 The Bristol Freighter debuts.

December 3, 1945 A de Havilland Vampire becomes the first pure jet to land on a carrier, the HMS Ocean.

January 10, 1946 A Sikorsky R-5 helicopter sets an unofficial world altitude record of 21,000 feet.

January 16, 1946 The United States initiates its space program using V-2 rockets.

January 19, 1946 Jack Woolams pilots a Bell XS-1 in its first unpowered flight.

January 21, 1946 The United States announces that the USAAF has reduced its strength from a wartime peak of 2,400,000 troops to 900,000 and will go down to 400,000.

January 26, 1946 Colonel William Council flies an F-80 across the United States in 4 hours, 13 minutes, covering 2,470 miles nonstop at 584.6 miles per hour.

February 4, 1946 Pan Am flies a Constellation from the United States to England in 14 hours, 9 minutes.

February 15, 1946 TWA introduces Constellations on transcontinental flights.

February 28, 1946 The Republic XP-84 Thunderjet fighter makes its first flight.

March 21, 1946 The USAAF establishes Strategic Air Command (SAC), Tactical Air Command (TAC), and Air Defense Command (ADC).

April-September 1946 The United States tests 64 V-2 missiles at White Sands, New Mexico.

April 1, 1946 The Bell Rascal guided missile program is started.

April 19, 1946 The USAAF and Consolidated-Vultee launch Project MX-774, which will later lead to the Atlas missile.

April 24, 1946 The first Soviet jet aircraft, the Yak-15 and MiG-9, make their first flights.

May 17, 1946 The Douglas XB-43, the first American jet bomber, debuts.

May 22, 1946 The de Havilland Chipmunk trainer makes its first flight powered by a 140-horsepower Gypsy Major engine.

­June 22, 1946 Jets (two P-80s) carry mail for the first time in the United States.


1946-1948 Flight Timeline

The Bell XS-1 took Chuck Yeager into the history books when it broke the sound barrier.
The Bell XS-1 took Chuck Yeager into the history books when it broke the sound barrier.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

Decemb­er 9, 1946 The Bell XS-1 makes its first powered flight.

December 12, 1946 A Gloster Meteor sets a ­London-to-Paris record of 23 minutes, 37 seconds.


January 26, 1947 Prince Gustav Adolf of Sweden is killed in a KLM DC-3 accident in Copenhagen.

March 17, 1947 The North American XB-45 Tornado jet bomber debuts. It is the first USAAF production jet bomber.

April 15, 1947 The Douglas D-558 Skystreak makes its first flight.

June 8, 1947 American Airlines begins transcontinental DC-6 services.

June 19, 1947 A Lockheed P-80R sets a world speed record of 623.738 miles per hour.

July 3, 1947 The Tupelov Tu-4, a Chinese copy of the B-29, makes its first flight.

July 8, 1947 The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser makes its first flight.

July 16, 1947 The Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 flying boat jet fighter debuts.

August 20, 1947 A Douglas Skystreak D-558-1, flown by Commander Turner Caldwell, sets a world speed record of 640.663 miles per hour.

August 25, 1947 Major Marion Carl raises the speed record of the Douglas Sky­streak D-558-1 to 650.796 miles per hour.

September 18, 1947 The United States Air Force is established.

October 1, 1947 The North American XP-86 Sabre debuts.

October 1, 1947 The first scheduled helicopter services begin in Los Angeles with the Sikorsky S-51.

October 14, 1947 Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier in the Bell XS-1.

October 21, 1947 The Northrop YB-49 jet flying wing makes its first flight.

November 2, 1947 The Hughes Flying Boat makes its first and only flight.

November 14, 1947 The Avro AW-52 twin-jet flying wing makes its first flight.

November 24, 1947 The Consolidated-Vultee XC-99, a cargo version of the B-36, makes its first flight.

December 17, 1947 The Boeing XB-47 debuts.

December 30, 1947 The MiG-15 prototype makes its first flight.

January 15, 1948 BOAC withdraws Boeing 314 flying boats and substitutes Con­stel­­lations between the United Kingdom and Bermuda.

January 30, 1948 Orville Wright dies.

January 30, 1948 An Avro Tudor IV disappears on a flight to Bermuda; Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham, the father of British ground-attack tactics, is on board.

February 4, 1948 Army Air Force and Navy Air Force transport services are merged to form Military Air Transport service.

February 4, 1948 The Douglas D-558-2 makes its first flight.

March 1, 1948 The last Curtiss fighter, the XF-87, makes its first flight.

March 23, 1948 Group Captain John Cunningham sets a world altitude record of 59,446 feet in a de Havilland D.H.100 Vampire.

April 5, 1948 A Soviet fighter collides with a British airliner over Berlin; 15 people are killed.

April 25, 1948 The XP-86 Sabre goes supersonic in a dive. It is the first jet to do so.

May 3, 1948 Howard C. Lilly dies in the crash of a Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak. He is the first NACA test pilot killed in the line of duty.

May 20, 1948 The Israeli Air Force goes into action for the first time.

June 26, 1948 The Berlin Airlift begins: 32 sorties by C-47s carry 80 tons of food.

­July 12-14, 1948 Six de Havilland Vampires make the first jet crossing of the Atlantic.


1948-1949 Flight Timeline

July 13, 1948 The first MX-774 is launched. It is the predecessor of the Atlas ICBM.

July 16, 1948 Two USAF B-29 groups go to England for temporary duty as an implied­ threat to the Soviet Union.


July 16, 1948 The Vickers Viscount, the world's first turboprop airliner, makes its first flight.

July 20, 1948 Sixteen Lockheed F-80s fly the Atlantic.

August 16, 1948 The Northrop XF-89 Scorpion makes its first flight.

September 1, 1948 The Saab J-29 Flying Barrel, the first European swept-wing jet fighter, debuts.

September 5, 1948 The Martin Caroline Mars lifts 68,282 pounds, the heaviest load ever lifted by an aircraft.

September 6, 1948 A de Havilland D.H.108 breaks the sound barrier in a dive.

September 15, 1948 Major R. L. Johnson sets a world speed record of 670.98 miles per hour in a F-86A that is fully equipped with guns and ammunition.

September 18, 1948 The Convair XF-92 delta-wing prototype debuts.

October 20, 1948 The McDonnell XF 88A Voodoo flies for the first time.

November 22, 1948 England announces the sale of ten Rolls-Royce Nene engines to the Soviet Union; 55 engines are supplied in all. The engine becomes the basis for one used in the MiG-15.

November 30, 1948 Curtiss-Wright demonstrates new reversible-pitch propellers on a C-54.

December 15, 1948 A new airlift base is opened at Celle, Germany.

December 16, 1948 The Northrop X-4 tailless research plane makes its first flight.

January 3, 1949 USAF SAC bombers begin 90-day rotational training in England.

January 7, 1949 The Israeli Air Force attacks RAF reconnaissance planes, shooting down four Spitfires and one Tempest.

February 8, 1949 Russ Schleeh flies an XB-47 from Moses Lake, Washington, to Bolling Air Field, Washington, D.C., in 3 hours and 46 minutes at 607 miles per hour.

February 25, 1949 A two-stage V-2/WAC Corporal missile is launched from White Sands, New Mexico, setting a 244-mile altitude record.

February 26-March 2,1949 The USAF Boeing B-50A Lucky Lady II completes the first nonstop round-the-world flight in 94 hours and 1 minute, with four in-flight refuelings.

March 7-8, 1949 Captain Bill Odom flies a Beech Bonanza nonstop from Hawaii to Teterboro, New Jersey: 4,957 miles.

March 25, 1949 A Bell XH-12 claims a speed record for helicopters: 133.9 miles per hour.

April 21, 1949 The French fly the Leduc ram-jet powered research aircraft for the first time.

April 26, 1949 Sunkist Lady, an Aeronca lightplane, sets an endurance record of 1,008 hours; it is refueled by gasoline passed by hand from a jeep.

May 12, 1949 The Berlin blockade is rescinded by the Soviets; the airlift wins.

May 13, 1949 English Electric Canberra, a British jet bomber, makes its first flight.

June 2, 1949 H. H. Arnold is given the permanent five-star rank of General of the Air Force.

July 27, 1949 The de Havilland Comet prototype makes its first flight. It is powered by four de Havilland Ghost engines.

August 9, 1949 The first American emergency use of an ejection seat is carried out by J. L. Fruin after he loses control of a U.S. Navy Banshee aircraft.

September 4, 1949 The giant eight-engine Bristol Brabazon makes its first flight.

­September 30, 1949 Allies formally end the Berlin Airlift.


1949-1951 Flight Timeline

N­ovember 2, 1949 The Piascecki HRP-2 helicopter makes its first flight.

December 22, 1949 The North American YF-86D Sabre Dog makes its first flight.


March 16, 1950 Group Captain John Cunningham flies a de Havilland Comet from England to Italy and back: 1,832 miles in four hours and six minutes at an average speed of 450 miles per hour.

April 4, 1950 A Gloster Meteor flies from England to Denmark in one hour and five minutes at 541.43 miles per hour.

May 12, 1950 The Bell XS-1 makes its last flight (for a motion picture).

June 3, 1950 The Republic F-84F prototype (YF-96A) makes its first flight.

June 25, 1950 The Korean War begins.

June 27, 1950 A North American F-82, flown by Lieutenant William G. Hudson, shoots down a Yak 9 fighter in the first U.S. victory of the Korean War.

July 3, 1950 A Grumman Panther, flying off the USS Valley Forge, is the first Navy jet in combat.

July 29, 1950 A prototype Vickers Viscount enters passenger service.

September 15, 1950 General Douglas MacArthur lands at Inchon in Korea.

September 22, 1950 Colonel David C. Schilling leads the flight of two F-84E aircraft for the first nonstop trans­atlantic jet crossing.

September 29, 1950 Captain R. V. Wheeler makes a record parachute jump from 42,449 feet.

October 9, 1950 The Soviet government protests a U.S. attack on a Soviet airfield near the Korean border.

October 20, 1950 Three thousand U.S. paratroopers are dropped near Seoul.

November 7, 1950 The British end use of flying boats in BOAC.

November 8, 1950 A Lockheed F-80C, piloted by Lieutenant Russell J. Brown, shoots down a MiG-15 in the first jet-versus-jet combat.

November 8, 1950 B-29s bomb North Korean bridges across Yalu.

December 17, 1950 The first F-86s go into actionin Korea, claiming four MiG-15s.

December 31, 1950 The world's airlines have carried 31.2 million passengers.

January 16, 1951 The first Consolidated-Vultee B-36D bombers land in England on a training flight from a base in Texas.

January 23, 1951 Republic F-84 Thunderjets (straight wing) shoot down four MiG-15s near Sinuiji.

February 6, 1951 The USAF announces the loss of 223 aircraft in Korea; only ten are due to enemy action, the rest were accidents.

February 14, 1951 The Republic F-84F makes its first flight.

February 21, 1951 An English Electric Canberra is the first jet to fly the Atlantic nonstop without refueling, making the flight in 4 hours, 37 minutes, at an average speed of 449.46 miles per hour.

February 23, 1951 The Dassault Mystère makes its first flight.

March 6, 1951 The USAF announces that Martin will build the Canberra.

March 15, 1951 A KC-97 tanker refuels a B-47 for the first time.

April 1-2, 1951 B-29s attack bridges across Yalu.

April 12, 1951 Two B-29s are shot down by MiG-15s in heavy fighting.

May 18, 1951 The first British V-bomber, the Vickers Valiant, flies. It is powered by four Rolls-Royce Avon engines.

­May 20, 1951 The first U.S. jet ace, Captain James Jabara, gets his fifth and sixth victories of the Korean War when he shoots down two MiGs.


1951-1952 Flight Timeline

May 29, 1951 Charles Blair flies his Excalibur P-51 over the North Pole, from Northe­rn Norw­ay to Fairbanks, Alaska (3,375 miles), in 10 hours, 29 minutes.

May 31, 1951 Charles Blair flies from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Idlewild, New York, in 9 hours, 31 minutes.


June 11, 1951 Bill Bridgeman sets an unofficial speed and altitude record in a Douglas D-558-2: 1,200 miles per hour, 70,000 feet.

June 20, 1951 The Bell X-5 experimental aircraft, with variable geometry wings, makes its first flight.

June 20, 1951 The Martin B-61 Matador, a pilotless bomber (ground-launched cruise missile), is launched for the first time.

July 6, 1951 Lockheed RF-80 aircraft are refueled by a Boeing KB-29 tanker--the first air-to-air refueling in a combat zone.

July 20, 1951 The prototype Hawker Hunter, one of the most successful British jet fighters, makes its first flight.

August 1, 1951 The Vickers Swift swept-wing jet fighter makes its first flight. It is the first RAF swept-wing jet.

August 7, 1951 Bill Bridgeman flies a D-558-2 Skyrocket to 1,238 miles per hour.

August 15, 1951 Bill Bridgeman flies a Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket to 79,494 feet.

August 17, 1951 Colonel Fred Ascani sets a world speed record of 635.686 miles per hour for 100 kilometers in an F-86E during the National Air Races.

September 13, 1951 The first USAF guided missile squadron is formed with Matadors.

September 26, 1951 The de Havilland D.H.110 Sea Vixen two-seater all-weather fighter makes its first flight.

October 3, 1951 The Soviet Union explodes its second atomic bomb.

November 26, 1951 The Gloster Javelin, a twin-jet delta-wing interceptor, makes its first flight.

December 12, 1951 The de Havilland Otter makes its first flight.

December 16, 1951 The Kaman K-225, a gas-turbine helicopter, completes tests.

January 3, 1952 The Bristol Type 173 prototype helicopter makes its first flight.

January 5, 1952 Pan Am begins the first all-cargo transatlantic service with DC-6A aircraft.

April 15, 1952 The Boeing YB-52, powered by eight Pratt & Whitney J57 engines, makes its first flight.

May 2, 1952 The first scheduled jet airline service begins with de Havilland Comet flights from London to Johannesburg.

June 16, 1952 Soviet MiGs shoot down a Swedish Catalina on a rescue mission.

June 17, 1952 ZPN-1, the world's largest nonrigid airship, is delivered to the Navy by Goodyear Aircraft Company. It is 324 feet long and 35 feet high.

July 14-17, 1952 Fifty-eight Republic F-84s, led by Colonel David C. Schilling, fly with seven stops from Turner Air Force Base, Georgia, to Yokota, Japan.

July 15-31, 1952 Two Sikor-sky S-55s make the first helicopter crossing of the North Atlantic in 42 hours, 25 minutes, with four stops.

July 29, 1952 A North American RB-45C Tornado completes the first nonstop transpacific flight from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska to Yokota, Japan.

August 16, 1952 The Bristol Britannia makes its first flight.

August 22, 1952 The Saunders-Roe S.E.45 Princess, a ten-engine flying boat, makes its first flight.

August 30, 1952 The Avro Vulcan delta-wing bomber makes its first flight. It will be the mainstay of the RAF for the next three decades.

­September 6, 1952 A de Havilland D.H.110 breaks up in flight, killing 30 people in an air-show crowd.

October 6, 1952 A de Havilland Comet is severely damaged during a takeoff accident in Rome. ­


1952-1953 Flight Timeline

October 7, 1952 A USAF Boeing B-29 is shot down by Soviet fighters six miles off Hokka­ido in Northern Japan.

October 8, 1952 Soviet MiG-15s attack a U.S. ambulance aircraft near Berlin.


October 23, 1952 The gigantic Hughes XH-17 Flying Crane makes its first flight.

October 28, 1952 The Doug­las Skywarrior, XA3D-1, makes its first flight. It is the heaviest aircraft yet to enter service on carriers.

November 3, 1952 The Saab Lansen, a two-seat, all-weather attack plane, makes its first flight.

November 26, 1952 A Northrop B-62 Snark missile is launched from a zero-length launcher.

December 3, 1952 Soviet fighters force down a USAF C-47 aircraft in Hungary.

December 24, 1952 The Handley Page Victor makes its first flight.

January 12, 1953 The U.S. Navy's first angled deck carrier, the Antietam, begins flight trials.

February 1, 1953 Chance Vought delivers the last F4U Corsair (of 12,571 built since 1940).

February 16, 1953 Two Japanese pilots of Japan's Self Defense Force, flying F-84s, shoot down two Soviet piston-engine fighters over Hokkaiddo.

March 2, 1953 French aviation shows advances with the first flight of the Sud-Ouest SO 9000 Trident jet.

March 3, 1953 The Comet Empress of Hawaii crashes on takeoff from Karachi, killing all 11 on board. It is the first Comet accident with fatalities.

March 15, 1953 The last propeller-driven bomber, the RB-50H, is delivered to the USAF.

March 24, 1953 A Czech C-47 is hijacked and flown to an American zone in Germany; six highjackers are granted political asylum.

April 3, 1953 The BOAC inaugurates weekly London to Tokyo service with the Comet.

April 9, 1953 The Convair Sea Dart, a hydro-ski, delta-wing, twin-engine, sea-based fighter, makes its first flight.

May 2, 1953 One year after beginning operations, a Comet crashes near Calcutta, India; 43 are killed.

May 12, 1953 The first Bell X-2 rocket plane explodes during captive flight, killing Jean Zeigler, the test pilot.

May 18, 1953 The DC-7C, the ultimate Douglas piston-engine airliner, debuts.

May 18, 1953 Captain Joseph McConnell, a leading Korean ace, shoots down 3 MiG-15s to bring his total to 16.

May 19, 1953 Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to break Mach 1 in a Canadian-built F-86E, powered by an Avro Orenda engine.

May 25, 1953 The USAF's first operational supersonic fighter, the North American F-100 Super Sabre, makes its first flight.

June 18, 1953 The Douglas C-124 Globemaster crashes on takeoff in Japan, killing 129 people. It is the worst air disaster to date.

July 16, 1953 Lieutenant Colonel William F. Barnes flies a North American F-86D Sabre at 715.6 miles per hour, setting a world speed record.

July 17, 1953 Lieutenant Guy Bordelon, flying a vintage Vought F4U Corsair, shoots down his fifth aircraft to become the first Navy ace of the Korean War.

July 27, 1953 The Korean Armistice is signed.

August 21, 1953 Marion Carl reaches 83,235 feet in an airdropped Douglas D-558-2.

August 25, 1953 The USAF announces that the B-36 can successfully launch and recover an F-84F in flight.

September 1, 1953 A B-47 is successfully refueled in flight by a jet tanker, a KB-47B.

­September 7, 1953 Famous test pilot Neville Duke sets a world speed record in a Hawker Hunter: 727.48 miles per hour.


1953 Flight Timeline

September 21, 1953 Lieutenant Noh Keun-suk, a North Korean pilot, defects with a­ MiG-15 jet fighter; he is given political asylum and a $100,000 reward.

September 25, 1953 Mike Lithgow sets a world speed record of 737.7 miles per hour in a Supermarine Swift.


October 3, 1953 Lieutenant Commander James Verdin sets a world speed record of 752.94 miles per hour in a Douglas XF4-D Skyray.

October 16, 1953 Robert O. Rahn flies a Douglas XF4-D Skyray to 728.11 miles per hour for a closed-course record.

October 24, 1953 The Convair F-102 makes its first flight; the aircraft can't go supersonic until its fuselage is redesigned with "Coke-bottle" effect. It is the first U.S. delta-wing aircraft to go into service.

October 29, 1953 Lieutenant Colonel F. K. Everest flies a North American F-100A to 754.98 miles per hour over a 15-kilometer course.

November 20, 1953 Scott Crossfield reaches 1,327 miles per hour in a Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket, the first Mach 2 flight.

November 29, 1953 The DC-7 enters commercial service with American Airlines.

­December 12, 1953 Chuck Yeager flies an X-1A at 1,650 miles per hour (Mach 2.5) to 70,000 feet.