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Flight after the Cold War Timeline

1988-1989 Flight Timeline

The Beech Starship made its first flight on February 15, 1986, a significant landmark in the history of general aviation.
The Beech Starship made its first flight on February 15, 1986, a significant landmark in the history of general aviation.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 1988 The first Low Level Wind Shear Alert System is installed.

January 1988 Tupelov Blackjacks enter operational service with the Soviet Air Force.


January 29-30, 1988 A 747 SP sets a round-the-world record of 36 hours and 54 minutes.

February 8, 1988 The Department of Defense begins SDI (Star Wars) experimentation with the launch of the Delta 181.

March 1988 Germany revives a World War II idea of using the Sänger concept to "skip" a reusable aerospace plane through upper levels of atmosphere.

April 15, 1988 A modified Tupelov Tu-154, the first aircraft fueled by liquid hydrogen, flies for the first time.

April 16, 1988 The British Aerospace/McDonnell Douglas T-45A Goshawk trainer makes its first flight.

April 23, 1988 Smoking is banned on U.S. domestic airline flights.

May 23, 1988 The first Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey prototype is rolled out.

May 27, 1988 The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom celebrates the 30th anniversary of its first flight.

June 26, 1988 An Airbus Industries A320 airliner flies into the ground; questions are raised concerning the fly-by-wire concept.

July 3, 1988 An Airbus 300 of Iran Air is shot down by the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes; there are 290 casualties.

July 7, 1988 The Soviet Phobos 1 spacecraft is launched to study Mars; communications are lost on August 29, 1989.

July 12, 1988 Phobos 2, the companion spacecraft to Phobos 1, is launched to study Mars, arriving on January 29, 1989.

August 17, 1988 President Zia of Pakistan is killed in the crash of a Lockheed C-130.

August 28, 1988 Three Aermacchi MB-339s from an Italian air demonstration team collide during an air show at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

September 28, 1988 The Ilyushin Il-96 wide-body transport makes its first flight.

September 29, 1988 The Space Shuttle Discovery is launched in the first shuttle flight since the Challenger disaster.

November 5, 1988 Soviets unveil the Antonov An-225 Mriya transport. It is the largest aircraft in the world, weighing more than 1,000,000 pounds when fully loaded.

November 10, 1988 The U.S. Air Force confirms the existence of the Lockheed F-117 stealth fighter.

November 15, 1988 Soviets launch their counterpart to the Space Shuttle, the Buran; it is totally automatic, no humans are onboard. The program is later canceled.

November 22, 1988 The Northrop B-2A Spirit stealth bomber is rolled out.

December 2-6, 1988 The Space Shuttle Atlantis is launched on a classified defense mission.

December 9, 1988 The Saab JAS 39 Gripen multirole fighter makes its first flight.

December 15, 1988 The FAA issues a type certificate for the Airbus A320, the first fly-by-wire airliner.

December 21, 1988 Terrorists blow up a Pan Am 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland; 269 are killed.

January 2, 1989 The Tupelov Tu-204 makes its first flight.

January 4, 1989 Navy F-14A Tomcats shoot down two Libyan MiG-23s over international waters, which Libya claims as territorial.

January 10, 1989 The FAA requires the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System on all airliners with more than 30 seats.

January 29, 1989 The Soviet Space probe Phobos 2 swings into orbit around Mars.

February 14, 1989 The first U.S. second-generation Nav­Star Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite is launched. It will be crucial in the Gulf War.

March 13-18, 1989 The Space Shuttle Discovery is launched; it deploys a

TDRS-D satellite.

March 24, 1989 The SDI satellite, Delta Star, is launched by the USAF.

May 4, 1989 The Magellan probe is launched by the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The probe arrives at Venus on August 10.

June 14, 1989 The USAF launches the first Titan IV.

July 17, 1989 The Northrop-Grumman B-2 stealth bomber makes its first flight.

July 19, 1989 A United DC-10 crashes while attempting an emergency landing; 107 perish.

August 8-13, 1989 The Space Shuttle Columbia is launched on a classified military mission.

August 22, 1989 Legendary Soviet aircraft designer Alex­ander Yakovlev dies at age 84.

August 25, 1989 Voyager 2 passes within 3,000 miles of Neptune.

September 14, 1989 The Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey successfully transitions from helicopter mode to horizontal flight for the first time.

October 18, 1989 The Galileo probe to Jupiter is launched by the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The probe arrives at Jupiter in December 1999.