Revolution in Flight Timeline

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic fighter plane with variable wing geometry. It was the Navy's primary aircraft for more than 30 years. See more pictures of flight.
Lt. Cmdr. Art Legare / U. S. Navy

January 5, 1964 The Short Belfast, a four-turboprop transport, makes its first flight.

February 24, 1964 The Northrop F-5B, a two-seat version of the F-5, makes its first flight.


February 29, 1964 President Lyndon Johnson reveals the existence of the Lockheed A-11 version. The aircraft is later designated the YF-12A.

Flight Pictures 

April 9, 1964 The de Havilland (Canada) DHC-5 Buffalo makes its first flight.

April 17, 1964 Geraldine Mock becomes the first woman to fly around the world solo. She covers 23,103 miles in 29 days.

May 1, 1964 A Lockheed P-3A Orion, piloted by Captain R. P. Ruehrmund, makes an 18-day, 26,550-nautical mile flight around the world.

May 7, 1964 The British Aerospace Super VC-10 makes its first flight.

May 11, 1964 Jacqueline Cochran sets a women's 15/25 kilometer course record at 1,429.2 miles per hour.

May 11, 1964 The North American XB-70 is rolled out.

May 25, 1964 The Ryan XV-5A makes its first flight.

June 4, 1964 Jacqueline Cochran sets two women's speed records: 1,302 miles per hour (100 kilometers) and 1,135 miles per hour (500 kilometers).

No aircraft in history ever had such a tremendous advantage over its contemporaries as the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, which flew for the first time in 1964. The SR-71 still holds many of the records it set.
Warren M. Bodie Collection


July 16, 1964 A Ryan XV-5A research aircraft, which uses a "fan in wing" principle, makes a vertical takeoff, flies conventionally, hovers, and lands vertically. The aircraft will go on to an extensive test program, but no production type aircraft will ensue.

July 28-31, 1964 The Ranger 7 is launched to take photos of the moon. After 68 hours of flight, it crash-lands on the lunar surface.

August 2, 1964 North Vietnamese torpedo boats attack the USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin.

August 5, 1964 U.S. Navy planes from the USS Constellation and USS Ticonderoga attack North Vietnamese torpedo boat bases.

September 21, 1964 The North American XB-70A Valkyrie makes its first flight.

September 27, 1964 The British Aerospace TSR.2, the British equivalent of the F-111, makes its first flight.

September 28, 1964 Polaris A-3, a fleet ballistic missile, becomes operational.

September 29, 1964 The LTV-Hiller-Ryan XC-142 tilt-wing four-engine transport research airplane makes its first flight.

September 30, 1964 A Lockheed C-130 flies from Australia to Williams Field, McMurdo Station -- the first flight over the Pole from Australia.

October 14, 1964 The Sikor­sky CH-53A Sea Stallion makes its first flight.

November 28, 1964 NASA launches the Mariner 4 spacecraft for a Mars flyby (achieved July 14, 1965).

December 21, 1964 The General Dynamics F-111A Aardvark, a low-altitude supersonic bomber, makes its first flight.

December 22, 1964 The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft makes its first flight.


1965-1966 Flight Timeline

The LTV-Hiller-Ryan XC-142 tilt-wing aircraft transitions from vertical takeoff to horizontal flight in this photo montage.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 11, 1965 The LTV-Hiller-Ryan XC-142 makes successful transitions from vertical to forward flight and back.

February 16, 1965 The Saturn launch vehicle with payload debuts.


February 25, 1965 The Douglas DC-9 makes its first flight.

March 23, 1965 The two-person Gemini 3 spacecraft makes its first flight. Virgil "Gus" Grissom and John Young make three orbits in the first flight mission that moves from one orbit to another.

April 6, 1965 The first commercial communications satellite Early Bird is launched into a 22,300-mile synchronous orbit.

May 1, 1965 Colonel Robert L. Stephens pilots a Lockheed YF-12A to establish a world speed record of 2,062 miles per hour at Edwards Air Force Base.

June 3-7, 1965 James A. McDivitt and Edward White complete 62 orbits in Gemini 4; White is the first American to walk in space.

June 13, 1965 The unusual-looking Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander makes its first flight.

September 7, 1965 The Bell Model 209, which will become the Huey Cobra, makes its first flight.

September 27, 1965 The LTV A-7A Corsair attack aircraft makes its first flight.

November 15, 1965 A Flying Tiger Boeing 707 becomes the first to fly around the world across the poles.

December 4-18, 1965 Frank Borman and James Lovell complete 206 orbits in Gemini 7 and rendezvous with Gemini 6.

The General Dynamics F-111A was one of the most controversial warplanes in history, made to meet the demand for commonality in United States Air Force and Navy fighters.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 10, 1966 The Bell Model 206A Jet Ranger helicopter makes its first flight.

January 31, 1966 Luna 9 is launched to the moon.

February 8, 1966 Freddie Laker announces the formation of Laker Airways.

March 16, 1966 Gemini 8 achieves the first space docking.

March 17, 1966 The Bell X-22A makes its first flight.

April 3, 1966 Luna 10 becomes the first artificial moon satellite.

May 18, 1966 The LTV XC-142A triservice V/STOL transport makes carrier takeoffs and landings on the USS Bennington.

May 18-June 20, 1966 Englishwoman Shelia Scott completes a record solo round-the-world flight for women in a Piper Comanche, flying 29,005 miles.

June 16, 1966 Navy A-4s make the first carrier strike since 1964 against North Vietnam, hitting oil storage facilities at Thanh Hoa.

July 12, 1966 The Northrop M2-F2 lifting body, predecessor to the Space Shuttle, flies. It has a wingless design, using its fuselage to generate lift.

August 10, 1966 Lunar Orbiter 1 is launched by NASA to photograph the moon and survey Apollo landing sites.

August 31, 1966 The Hawker Siddeley AV-8A VTOL development aircraft makes its first hovering flight.

September 8, 1966 The Phoenix missile, to be the heart of the F-14 weapon system, undergoes a successful full-function test launch from an A-3A Skywarrior.

September 15, 1966 Reinhold Platz, Fokker's top designer in World War I, dies at age 80.

October 21, 1966 The Yakovlev Yak-40 trijet makes its first flight.

November 11, 1966 The last Gemini mission is flown by Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and James Lovell. They complete 59 orbits, and Aldrin spends 51/2-hours in extravehicular activity (EVA).

December 6, 1966 The Luftwaffe grounds the Lockheed F-104 fleet after the 65th accident.

December 23, 1966 The Dassault Mirage F1 makes its first flight.


1967-1968 Flight Timeline

The Bell Huey Cobra was an aerial fire support system with a narrow, tandem-seat fuselage and small stub wings for additional lift and an armament platform.
Warren M. Bodie Collection

January 2, 1967 Boeing is awarded the contract for the design of a supersonic transport; the design will eventually be canceled.

January 27, 1967 Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee die in a tragic fire during a preflight test.


February 10, 1967 The Dornier Do 31E flies for the first time.

February 26, 1967 Grumman A-6 Intruders conduct the first aerial mining of the Vietnam War, laying minefields in the mouths of the Song Ca and Son Giang rivers.


March 8, 1967 The all-metal Slingsby T.53 glider makes its first flight.

March 11, 1967 The Bede BD-2, an all-metal sailplane, makes its first flight.

April 9, 1967 The Boeing 737 twin-jet debuts.

April 18, 1967 Aeroflot begins Moscow to Tokyo service with a Tupolev Tu-114.

April 27, 1967 A-6 Intruders and A-4 Skyhawks raid Kep Airfield in North Vietnam, striking MiGs on the ground.

May 9, 1967 The Fokker F28 Friendship makes its first flight.

The Saab 37 Viggen, with its unique double-delta configuration, made its first flight in 1967, and rapidly became Sweden's primary military aircraft.
Peter M. Bowers Collection


May 23, 1967 The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, a development of the de Havilland Comet 4, makes its first flight.

June 8, 1967 Israeli forces sink the USS Liberty.

June 14, 1967 NASA launches Mariner 5 for a Venus flyby (achieved October 19, 1967).

September 2, 1967 The Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne attack helicopter, which features a rigid rotor and pusher propeller, makes its first flight.

October 3, 1967 Major William Knight flies a North American X-15 to the fastest speed of its career: 4,534 miles per hour (Mach 6.72).

October 23, 1967 The Canadair CL-215 water bomber makes its first flight.

November 18, 1967 The swing-wing Dassault Mirage G makes its first flight.

March 10, 1968 Lockheed selects the Rolls-Royce RB.211 engine to power its L-1011.

March 17, 1968 U.S. F-111s begin operation in Vietnam. The aircraft prove to be disastrous, and they are withdrawn from service.

March 27, 1968 The first Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, is killed in the crash of a two-seat MiG-15.

May 5, 1968 A Grumman Gulfstream II lands at London, completing the first nonstop transatlantic flight by an executive jet.

June 8, 1968 Barnes Wallis dies at the age of 80. He invented the "Dam Buster" raid bombs and geodetic airframes; he also designed dirigibles.

June 30, 1968 The world's largest airplane, the Lockheed C-5A Galaxy, makes its first flight.

July 6, 1968 Marine Corps North American OV-10A Broncos arrive in Vietnam.

September 8, 1968 A Consortium of French and English manufacturers results in the first flight of the Jaguar E-01 prototype; the aircraft will serve well in the Gulf War.

October 11, 1968 Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham make 163 orbits in the Apollo 7, the first crewed Apollo mission.

December 21-27, 1968 Apollo 8, with Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders, orbits the moon ten times.

December 31, 1968 The Tupelov Tu-144 SST makes its first flight, becoming the world's first SST to fly.


1969 Flight Timeline

The three primary crew members for the Apollo 10 mission (Eugene A. Cernan, Thomas P. Stafford and John W. Young) pose in front of a large map of the lunar surface. They launched on May 18, 1969.

January 7, 1969 The United States Air Force accepts the 1,000th T-38 trainer from Northrop.

January 14, 1969 Exhaust from a starter generator unit detonates a Zuni rocket warhead onboard the USS Enterprise; 27 people are killed.


January 14-17, 1969 Colonel V. Shatalov in Soyuz 4 joins with Soyuz 5 and achieves the first docking between two piloted spacecraft.


February 3, 1969 The U.S. Navy issues a contract to Grumman for the F-14A.

February 9, 1969 The Boeing 747 makes its first flight.

February 24, 1969 Mariner 6 is launched for a Mars flyby (achieved July 31, 1969).

March 2, 1969 The prototype Concorde supersonic airliner makes its first flight.

March 3-13, 1969 Apollo 9, with James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott, and Russell L. Schweickart as crew, completes 151 Earth orbits and tests the Lunar module in flight.

March 5, 1969 The existence of the Mil-12 helicopter, the largest ever flown, is announced.

April 9, 1969 The second Concorde (British-built) makes its first flight.

April 14, 1969 A North Korean aircraft shoots down an unarmed Lockheed

EC-121 Constellation, killing the 31 crew members.

April 28, 1969 The Hawker Siddeley Harrier makes a transatlantic crossing.

May 11, 1969 Lieutenant Commander Brian Davis, Royal Navy, wins the Daily Mail transatlantic race in 4 hours, 17 minutes.

May 18-26, 1969 NASA launches Apollo 10 with Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young, and Eugene A. Cernan.

June 1, 1969 The Marine OV-10A Bronco sets a 2,539.78-mile distance record for turboprop aircraft.

June 15, 1969 Aeroflot and Pan Am begin Moscow to New York services.

July 14, 1969 The first Vought A-7E Corsair II is delivered to the Navy.

July 20, 1969 In the Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin walk on the moon.

July 24, 1969 Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, the Apollo 11 astronauts who went to the moon, are recovered by helicopters off the USS Hornet.

August 4, 1969 The U.S. Navy orders $461 million worth of a new antisubmarine warfare plane, the Lockheed S-3A.

September 15, 1969 The Cessna Citation business jet makes its first flight.

October 2, 1969 The first Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, a development of the original de Havilland Comet, is delivered to the RAF.

October 12, 1969 The first SEPECAT Jaguar strike fighter to be completed in Britain makes its first flight.

November 10, 1969 Master showman Jim Bede sets an unrefueled closed-circuit course distance record of 8,973.4 miles in his radical BD-2.

November 14-24, 1969 Apollo 12 makes a second lunar mission with Charles (Pete) Conrad, Jr.; Richard F. Gordon, Jr.; and Alan L. Bean as the crew.

December 17, 1969 The first Lockheed C-5A Galaxy is handed over to the Air Force; this controversial aircraft will have tremendous importance in several wars.

December 23, 1969 McDonnell Douglas is chosen to build the F-15 air-superiority fighter.


1970-1971 Flight Timeline

The Canadair CL-215 Water Bomber was the first water bomber specifically designed to fight forest fires. Previous planes filling the role had been retrofitted bombers or transport craft.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 22, 1970 The Boeing 747 begins Pan Am transatlantic service.

February 15, 1970 Air Chief Marshal Lord (Hugh) Dowding dies at age 87; he was the Commander of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.


March 2, 1970 The General Electric CF-6 engine is tested on a Boeing B-52 test bed; the engine is intended for the McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

March 16, 1970 A Lockheed EC-121 crashes at Da Nang, Vietnam; 23 people are killed.


March 19, 1970 Major Jerauld Gentry makes the first piloted and powered flight in a Martin Marietta X-24A lifting body vehicle, a research tool for the shuttle.

March 28, 1970 A Navy Phantom II downs a MiG-21 to resume air combat after a bombing halt.

April 10, 1970 The Douglas A-4M Skyhawk, a much more advanced version of the original aircraft, makes its first flight.

April 11-17, 1970 The Apollo 13 mission is aborted after an explosion on board.

May 2, 1970 A Navy helicopter rescues 26 people from a DC-9 ditched in the Caribbean.

May 9, 1970 Navy helicopters and OV-10A Broncos combine with boats to attack in the Mekong Delta region.

May 26, 1970 The Tupolev Tu-144 reaches Mach 2 in test flights.

June 1, 1970 The first Lockheed C-5A goes into operational service.

June 9, 1970 A New York to Washington, D.C., speed record for helicopters is set--1 hour, 18 minutes at 156.43 miles per hour--in a Marine Corps Ch-53D flown by James Wright and Colonel Henry Hart.

June 10, 1970 A New York-to-Boston helicopter speed record is set (same crew and helicopter as above): one hour, nine minutes at 162.72 miles per hour.

July 17, 1970 Lockheed P-3A Orions begin operation with the Navy.

August 17, 1970 The Soviets launch Venera 7, which lands on Venus on December 15, 1970.

August 22, 1970 Two Sikor­sky HH-53C helicopters fly a 9,000-mile nonstop trans­pacific flight refueled by Lockheed KC-130s.

August 29, 1970 The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 makes its first flight.

September 25, 1970 The television-guided Condor missile is test fired.

October 24, 1970 Bill Dana makes the last flight in a North American X-15.

November 10, 1970 The Soviet Union lands the first remote-controlled moon rover Luna 17.

November 12, 1970 Japan reenters military aircraft building with the first flight of the NAMC XC-1 jet transport.

November 16, 1970 The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar makes its first flight.

November 21, 1970 The United States attempts to rescue U.S. prisoners of war from Son Tay prison in North Vietnam, only to learn that the prisoners have been moved.

December 21, 1970 The Grumman F-14A Tomcat makes its first flight.

January 6, 1971 The Marines accept the first Hawker Siddeley AV-8A Harrier.

January 22, 1971 A Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion, piloted by Commander Donald H. Lilienthal, sets a long-distance record for turboprops of 7,010 miles.

January 27, 1971 The Lockheed Orion sets a world speed record for its class (four-motor turboprop): 501.44 miles per hour over a closed course.

January 31-February 9, 1971 Apollo 14 gathers 94 pounds of material from the moon.

February 8, 1971 The P-3C Lockheed Orion sets a world altitude record of 46,214.5 feet, as well as four time-to-climb records for its class.

March 21, 1971 The Westland Lynx helicopter makes its first flight.

March 24, 1971 The Boeing SST is canceled.

April 16, 1971 The Douglas A-4M Skyhawk enters service. It is the seventh major version of the A-4.

April 17, 1971 Federal Express begins operations.

May 8, 1971 The Dassault variable-sweep Mirage G8 makes its first flight.

May 21, 1971 The Navy begins evaluation of helmet-mounted sighting for a fire-control system.

May 30, 1971 Mariner 9 is launched to orbit Mars.

June 18, 1971 Southwest Airlines begins operations.

June 29, 1971 Soyuz 11 docks with the Soviet space station Salyut 1. The crew is killed upon entering the earth's atmosphere on the return trip because of equipment failure.

July 7, 1971 The Navy A-1 Skyraider is retired.

July 20, 1971 Japan makes its first indigenous supersonic aircraft, the Mitsubishi XT-2 jet trainer.

July 26-August 7, 1971 Apollo 15 uses a lunar rover vehicle.


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.
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.