End of the 20th Century Flight Timeline

Lockheed Martin X-33 spacecraft
Space ventures are a gamble, as Lockheed Martin learned with its X-33 technology demonstrator. The aircraft was to be the forerunner of an orbital spacecraft to take off and land conventionally, but technical problems later forced cancellation of the contract. See more pictures of flight.
Lockheed Martin Corporation

January 25, 1994 The Clementine lunar orbiter is launched.

February 3-11, 1994 Sergei Krikolev becomes the first Russian crew member to fly aboard the Space Shuttle.


February 28, 1994 Two Air Force F-16 jets shoot down four Bosnian Serb aircraft in the first demonstration of NATO air combat.

March 29, 1994 Northrop acquires Grumman; the merger is effective May 18, 1994.

Flight Pictures 

March 30, 1994 The Pilatus PC-12 gets Swiss certification.

June 12, 1994 The Boeing 777 makes its first flight.

September 13, 1994 The A300-600ST Super Transporter makes its first flight.

December 1994 Lockheed merges with Martin-Mariertta.

December 16, 1994 The Antonov AN-70 turboprop transport makes its first flight.

January 5, 1995 Ben Rich, of Lockheed "Skunk Works" fame, dies at the age of 69.

February 3-11, 1995 The Space Shuttle Discovery flies by Mir in preparation for a future docking mission.

Mars Polar Lander
This rendering shows the Mars Polar Lander using an articulated robot arm to collect soil samples. The 639-pound spacecraft was launched from on January 3, 1999. Unfortunately, it disappeared into the Martian atmosphere and was lost to NASA scientists.
McDonnell Douglas Aerospace

February 18-21, 1995 Steve Fossett makes the first solo transpacific balloon flight from Seoul, South Korea to Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada, a distance of 5,430 miles.

March 31, 1995 The Cirrus SR-20 makes its first flight; it features a built-in parachute.

April 11, 1995 T. Keith Glennan, the first head of NASA, dies at the age of 90.

April 26, 1995 A MiG-29 sets an altitude record of 90,092 feet.

May 31, 1995 The FAA certifies its first aircraft from China, a Model Y-12 Harbin.

June 2, 1995 Captain Scott Grady is shot down and rescued in Bosnia.

June 30, 1995 The Luftwaffe conducts its first combat operation in nearly 50 years, in support of NATO forces in Bosnia.

August 11, 1995 The EMBRAER EMB-145 makes its first flight.

November 29, 1995 The McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) Super Hornet F/A-18E makes its first flight.


1996-1997 Flight Timeline

AeroVironment Solar-Powered Helios
NASA's solar-electric, high-altitude flying wing, the Helios, lands at Edwards Air Force Base, California, after a test flight. The 247-foot-wingspan, 1,640-pound aircraft is designed to fly at high altitudes (100,000 feet) for sustained periods.
McDonnell Douglas Aerospace

January 15, 1996 NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao becomes the 100th person to take a space walk when he departs the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

February 17, 1996 The U.S. NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) Shoemaker craft launches to study the Eros asteroid. It will land on Eros in 2001.


February 29, 1996 European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter returns after spending six months on Mir.

March 16, 1996 Fokker goes out of business.

April 25, 1996 The Yak-130 two-seat trainer makes its first flight.

June 17, 1996 Burt Rutan unveils the asymmetric Boomerang.

June 24, 1996 Raytheon delivers the 5,000th Beech King Air business turboprop.

August 6, 1996 The Kawasaki OH-X helicopter makes its first flight.

August 9, 1996 Sir Frank Whittle, often considered the inventor of the modern jet engine, dies at age 89.

August 31, 1996 The two-seat version of the Eurofighter makes its first flight.

November 7, 1996 NASA launches the Mars Global Surveyor to orbit and map the Red Planet.

November 16, 1996 Russia's Mars 96 probe is launched; the probe falls back to Earth.

November 16, 1996 Boeing and Lockheed Martin are chosen to build prototypes of the multiservice Joint Strike Fighter.

December 6, 1996 Rockwell Aerospace and Defense, formerly known as North American Aviation, is acquired by Boeing in a move announced on August 15, 1996.

December 15, 1996 Boeing makes plans to buy McDonnell Douglas.

December 26, 1996 The Chinese Jingdezhen Z-11 helicopter makes its first flight.

1997 Eurocopter twice raises the production rates on the EC-135 helicopter.

January 20, 1997 Steve Fossett sets a hot-air balloon distance record of 10,363 miles.

Lockheed Martin F-16CJ fighter jet
A Lockheed Martin F-16CJ of the 79th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, is seen on Combat Air Patrol in support of Operation Noble Eagle.
U.S. Air Force

April 9, 1997 The first production Lockheed F-22 Raptor is rolled out.

April 28, 1997 The first production Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey is delivered to the U.S. Marines.

May 17, 1997 The McDonnell Douglas X-36 tailless fighter makes its first flight.

June 25, 1997 The Progress, an unpiloted Russian supply ship, collides with the Mir space station during a training exercise.

July 4, 1997 The Mars Path­finder safely lands on Mars.

August 1, 1997 Boeing officially merges with McDonnell Douglas.

September 25, 1997 The Sukhoi Su-37 Berkut advanced-technology fighter makes its first flight.

October 12, 1997 Singer John Denver dies when his experimental single-engine Rutan Long EZ crashes.

October 15, 1997 NASA launches Cassini. The robotic craft is designed to study Saturn.

October 15, 1997 The European Space Agency launches the Huygens probe, designed to research Saturn's Titan moon.

December 24, 1997 The Asiasat 3 communications satellite is launched. The manufacturer, Hughes Global Services, will buy back the spacecraft from insurers when the craft fails to orbit properly. Renamed the HGS-1, the satellite performs two lunar flybys.


1998-1999 Flight Timeline

Lockheed B-1B
Marred by controversy throughout its career, the Lockeed B-1B has proven itself beyond any question in combat.
U.S. Air Force

1998 The Bell/Boeing Model 609 civil tilt-rotor is offered for delivery in 2001, opening a new market.

January 8, 1998 Boeing renames the MD-95 airliner, acquired during the McDonnell Douglas merger, the Boeing 717; it is the last of the famed MD series.


February 28, 1998 The Northrop Grumman (formerly Teledyne Ryan) Global Hawk Unpiloted Aerial Vehicle (UAV) makes its first flight.

March 11, 1998 The first E-767 AWACS aircraft is delivered to the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.

April 17, 1998 Bill Clem flies his home-built Autogiro to an altitude record of 24,463 feet.

April 21, 1998 Gary Osoba flies an ultralight glider for a record 315 miles.

May 30, 1998 Will Gadd sets a distance record of 179 miles per hour in a paraglider.

June 1, 1998 Per Lindstrand sets a hot-air balloon altitude record of 65,000 feet.

June 29, 1998 The Lockheed Martin Dark Star Unpiloted Aerial Vehicle (UAV) makes its first successful flight.

July 3, 1998 Japan's Nozomi Mars orbiter is launched.

July 4, 1998 The EMBRAER EJ-135 makes its first flight.

July 4, 1998 Ramy Yanetz flies a rigid-wing hang glider 251 miles for a new record.

July 15, 1998 The Raytheon T-6A Texan II makes its first flight.

July 26, 1998 More than 240 skydivers make the largest formation "free fall."

July 26, 1998 Flight tests begin for the Scaled Composites Proteus high-altitude aircraft.

August 21, 1998 The Piper Malibu Meridian makes its first flight.

September 1998 Galileo spots the sources of Jupiter's rings.

September 6, 1998 The Fuji Blimp sets a duration record for covering a television event: 14 hours and 9 minutes at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament.

September 24, 1998 The Beriev Be 200 firefighting flying boat makes its first flight.

October 10, 1998 The F-22 goes supersonic for the first time.

October 24, 1998 NASA launches the Deep Space 1 to explore deep space, including asteroids and comets.

October 29, 1998 Space Shuttle Discovery launches with 77-year-old John Glenn, former astronaut and current senator, as part of its crew.

November 20, 1998 The first module for the International Space Station is launched by a Russian expendable rocket.

December 4-15, 1998 The Space Shuttle Endeavor delivers the second module (called Unity) to the International Space Station.

December 11, 1998 NASA launches the Mars Climate Orbiter.

December 22, 1998 The Spanish CASA C 295 transport makes its first flight.

December 23, 1998 Sikor­sky and partners fly the first prototype of the S-92 Helibus.

January 3, 1999 NASA launches the Mars Polar Lander to land on and explore Mars. Contact will be lost as it descends toward the planet almost a year later.

January 24, 1999 The Ariane 42L puts the Galaxy XR satellite into orbit.

February 7, 1999 NASA launches the Stardust. It is expected to pass through an active comet in 2004 and take samples.

March 1-21, 1999 Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones make the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, covering 28,431 miles in the Breitling Orbiter 3.

March 27, 1999 Sea Launch conducts the first launch of a Zenit rocket from their floating platform.

May 25, 1999 The Airbus A319 Airbus Corporate Jet makes its first flight.

May 27, 1999 The Bombardier CRJ 700 debuts.

May 27-June 6, 1999 The Space Shuttle Discovery visits the International Space Station.

July 23-27, 1999 Eileen Collins is the first woman to command a Space Shuttle.

August 9, 1999 The Dornier E328 is certified.

December 3, 1999 Communication with the Mars Polar Lander is lost. The mission failure will be blamed mainly on software that did not translate English units to metric units.


2000-2001 Flight Timeline

Boeing Joint Strike Fighter
The Boeing Company doesn't lose many competitions, but its Joint Strike Fighter contender, shown here on its September 18, 2000, first flight, was narrowly defeated by the Lockheed Martin entry.
The Boeing Collection

January 2000 The USAF takes delivery of the YAL-1A airborne laser platform; it is a modified Boeing 747-400F.

January 2000 The BAE Hawk 127 makes its first flight.


January 7, 20­00 For the first time Airbus records more orders than Boeing; in 1999 it was 476 for the Europeans versus 391 for the Americans.

March 6, 2000 ­The MiG-1.42 technology demonstrator makes its first flight.


April 28, 2000 Lockheed Martin delivers the 4,000th production F-16.

May 1, 2000 The Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its tenth anniversary.

May 23, 2000 The USAF and the Navy accept the first T-6A Texan II.

June 2000 The USAF announces plans to make the Predator the first armed UAV.

June 23, 2000 Airbus begins to offer the A380 mega airliner to airlines.

July 19, 2000 The Westland WAH-64 Apache makes its first flight.

July 25, 2000 An Air France Concorde supersonic airliner crashes after takeoff from Paris; it is the type's first crash.

August 22, 2000 The first CV-22 Osprey is delivered to the USAF.

September 18, 2000 The Boeing X-32 Joint Strike Fighter prototype makes its first flight.

October 11-24, 2000 The Space Shuttle Discovery conducts the 100th Space Shuttle mission.

October 24, 2000 The Lockheed X-35 Joint Strike Fighter prototype makes its first flight.

November 2, 2000 A joint United States-Russian crew takes up residence in the International Space Station.

December 19, 2000 Airbus formally launches the A380 mega transport to compete with Boeing's 747.

February 2, 2001 The RQ-1B Predator unpiloted aerial vehicle with a turboprop makes its first flight.

February 12, 2001 The NEAR Shoemaker probe lands on the asteroid Eros, taking pictures on the way down and transmitting data after it has landed.

February 20, 2001 The Rus-sian SS-25 ICBM launches the Swedish Odin spacecraft.

February 21, 2001 The Bombardier CRJ900 makes its first flight.

March 14, 2001 The Boeing X-40A makes its first NASA research flight.

March 29, 2001 Boeing announces the Sonic Cruiser as its next airliner.

April 23, 2001 The Airbus Industrie A340-600 makes its first flight.

April 23-24, 2001 The Northrop Grumman Global Hawk makes a 23-hour flight to Australia.

April 28, 2001 American millionaire Dennis Tito becomes the first space tourist, paying $20 million to join a Russian flight to the International Space Station.

May 7, 2001 The Antonov An-225 Mriya super-heavy transport is test-flown. The aircraft had originally been built to support the Soviet Space Shuttle program; this is its first flight since December 21, 1988.

May 10, 2001 China launches the Long March 4B with two satellites onboard.

July-August 2001 Lockheed Martin and Boeing Joint Strike Fighter prototypes become the first practical supersonic fighters to demonstrate a vertical landing.

July 2, 2001 The Zeppelin NT begins making operating flights.

August 13-14, 2001 The solar-powered Helios sets an altitude record of 96,500 feet.

September 11, 2001 Terrorists hijack three U.S. passenger airliners and strike New York City's Twin Towers and the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashes in Pennsylvania.

October 2001 Unpiloted Predator aircraft launch weapons in combat in Afghanistan.

October 23, 2001 The Mars Global Surveyor enters precise Mars orbit.

October 26, 2001 The Lockheed Martin X-35 wins the Joint Strike Fighter competition.

December 1, 2001 TWA flies its last flight before being absorbed by American Airlines.


2002-2003 Flight Timeline

Crew of Space Shuttle Columbia
All seven of the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia perished in the tragic loss of the Columbia on February 1, 2003.
McDonnell Douglas Aerospace

January 21, 2002 The Gulfstream V offers a new Enhanced Vision System for low-visibility approaches.

January 28, 2002 Ryanair orders 100 Boeing 737-800 jets.


January 29, 2002 The Frontier Systems A160 Hummingbird rotor-craft UAV makes its first flight.

February 27, 2002 The Cessna Sovereign makes its first flight.

March 1-12, 2002 The crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia performs on-orbit service and repairs of the Hubble Space Telescope.

March 22, 2002 The first production Eurocopter Tiger is rolled out.

March 25, 2002 A Chinese Long March 2F launches an unpiloted Shenzhou III; China announces its intention to launch a human in 2003.

April 8, 2002 The USAF announces its intention to lease 100 new Boeing 767 tankers; Congress has other ideas.

April 26, 2002 Sukhoi wins the battle for a follow-on fighter in Russia.

April 26, 2002 The British consider using the X-45 as a means to develop UCAV.

May 22, 2002 The Boeing X-45A UCAV makes its first flight.

May 31, 2002 The Toyota single-engine four-seat aircraft makes its first flight.

June 1, 2002 The prototype of the Aero Vodochody L159B Advanced jet trainer makes its first flight.

June 15, 2002 The Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk completes its 1,000th combat flight hour in Operation Enduring Freedom.

June 19-July 3, 2002 Steve Fossett flies from Northam, West Australia, to Lake Yamma Yamma, Queensland, in 14 days and 19 hours. It is the first solo nonstop round-the-world balloon flight.

June 25, 2002 Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman win an $11 billion contract to upgrade Coast Guard forces.

June 26, 2002 The Royal Australian Air Force accepts its first Boeing BBJ (Boeing Business Jet).

July 1, 2002 The Pilatus PC-21 military trainer makes its first flight.

July 4, 2002 General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the Air Force's first black general, dies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center at age 89.

July 19, 2002 The Northrop Grumman X-47A Pegasus UAV completes initial low-speed taxi tests at China Lake, California.

July 20, 2002 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets are deployed to the USS Abraham Lincoln. It is the aircraft's first deployment.

July 21, 2002 The Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser (ABL) makes its first flight.

July 27, 2002 A Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter crashes into an air show crowd, killing 83 and injuring 200.

August 20, 2002 The Lockheed Martin Aero T-50 trainer makes its first flight.

August 26, 2002 Eclipse Aviation's six-seat friction-welded Eclipse 500 makes its first flight.

October 7, 2002 The USAF announces that direct-energy technology is ready to be used as weaponry.

October 20, 2002 An improved Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft is launched to the International Space Station. Rock singer Lance Bass was scratched from the mission when he failed to come up with the price of the ticket: $20 million.

October 28, 2002 Boeing unveils its Bird of Prey (BOP) demonstrator aircraft, used to indicate what the next generation of stealth technology may be. The aircraft flew more than 40 hours.

November 4, 2002  NASA announces that the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), the last of the "four great observatories," will be launched in 2003.

November 4, 2002 The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency announces that its Wasp microair vehicle flew for 107 minutes.

November 11, 2002 The first EADS TBM 700 C2 single turboprop aircraft is delivered.

November 23-December 7, 2002 The Space Shuttle Endeavor brings the Expedition 6 crew to the International Space Station.

December 9, 2002 Diamond Aircraft Twinstar makes its first flight.

December 9, 2002 United Airlines files for bankrupcy protection. It joins USAirways and several other U.S. airlines.

December 12, 2002 The Galileo spacecraft begins transmitting data from its flyby of Jupiter's tiny moon Amalthea, which took place on November 5.

December 14, 2002 Japan makes its fourth straight successful H-IIA medium-lift rocket, putting the second Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (Adeos-2) into a 500-mile polar orbit.

December 23, 2002 Iraq shoots down a U.S. Predator spy plane.

January 16, 2003 The Space Shuttle Columbia is launched. The crew includes: Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark, and Ilan Ramon.

February 1, 2003 The Space Shuttle Columbia breaks up during reentry into the earth's atmosphere; all seven astronauts perish.