Aviation in 1981
A Bell Model 222, delivered to Omniflight Helicopters, is the
company's 25,000th production helicopter.
Pan American World Airways (Pan-Am) begins a twice weekly New
York to Beijing service.
Donald W. Douglas, founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company,
dies aged 88.
The helium-filled balloon 'Jules Verne', piloted by Americans
Max Anderson and Don Ida, lifts off from Luxor in Egypt, in
an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Two days later the
attempt is aborted after 2,900 miles of travel.
John K. Northrop, founder of Northrop Aircraft, dies.
Air France flies it's last service using the Aérospatiale (Sud-Aviation)
Caravelle, almost 22 years after the type entered service.
Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan American World Airways
(Pan-Am) and air travel pioneer, dies aged 81.
Shuttle Columbia is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral
for its first mission.
Helicopters announces the beginning of construction of a
prototype helicopter that will use pressurised air instead of
a standard tail rotor.
Eight Israeli General Dynamics F16s, escorted by F15s attack
the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad in Iraq.
The Pakistani Foreign Minister announces the purchase of
General Dynamics F16s for the national air force.
Aeroflot inaugurates its first international service with the
Ilyushin Il86 on the airline's Moscow-East Berlin route.
A new helicopter altitude record is set by Charles Praether,
flying an Augusta A109A at a height of 6,096 metres (20,000
The Boeing company delivers its 4,000th jetliner, a 727-200,
for Ansett Airlines of Australia.
The United States President Ronald Reagan sacks all striking
Air Traffic Controllers.
United States Navy (USN) Grumman F14 Tomcat aircraft shoot
down two Libyan fighters in Gulf of Sirte off the Libyan
McDonnell Douglas delivers its 1,000th DC9 aircraft, a Super
80 (HB-INO), to Swissair.
Edwin A. Link, inventor of the Link Trainer, dies aged 77.
The Link Trainer was the first flight simulator.
The 494th Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath in
Suffolk, becomes the first United States Air Force (USAF)
squadron to be equipped with the Pave Tack munitions laser
The People's Republic of China launches three satellites into
orbit with a single-booster rocket, making this is the first
multiple launch achieved by China.
An Ilyushin Il86, captained by G. Volokhov, sets new class
speed records in the 1,000 kilometres and 2,000 kilometres
closed circuit categories at 962kph (597mph) and 975kph
Superchicken III, a helium-filled balloon piloted by Fred
Gorrell and John Shoecroft, completes the first non-stop
trans-America balloon flight, taking 55 hours 25 minutes.
McDonnell Douglas finishes construction of the first
full-scale AV-8B Harrier II development aircraft at St Louis
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
aborts the second flight of Space Shuttle Columbia 31 seconds
before launch due to a computer mis-match.
Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, Ron Clarke and Rocky Aoki crew the
helium-filled balloon Double Eagle V in the first manned
balloon crossing of the Pacific Ocean. However, severe
weather forces a crash-landing on completion of the journey -
a distance 5,209 miles from Nagashima in Japan to Covello in
Hot-air balloon 'Semiramis', piloted by Frenchmen Hélène
Dorigny and Michel Arnould, who set a new hot-air balloon
distance record of 1,154 kilometres (717 miles).
Jerry Mullen considerably extends the closed circuit distance
record in Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) class
C1d for piston-engined aircraft, flying 16,104 kilometres
(10,007 miles) in 73 hours 2 minutes in an aircraft named
A Hughes OH6A helicopter, using controllable pressurised air
release instead of a tail rotor, makes a successful first