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On This Date

Jan. 1, 1914: Tony Jannus flew a Benoist XIV biplane flying boat from St. Petersburg to Tampa in Florida with a paying passenger. This was the first scheduled commercial airplane flight – the company was the Airboat Line — and ran until May 5, 1914. The fare for the 22-mile over-water flight was $5 with a surcharge if the passenger weighed more than 200 pounds.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Jan. 1, 1962: The first Navy SEAL teams were established with Teams One and Two, formed with personnel from Underwater Demolition Teams. The teams were stationed on both U.S. coasts: Team One at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, in San Diego, Calif., and Team Two at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, in Virginia Beach, Va. According to founding SEAL team member Roy Boehm, the SEALs’ first missions were directed against communist Cuba. These consisted of deploying from submarines and carrying out beach reconnaissance in a prelude to a proposed U.S. amphibious invasion of the island. On at least one occasion, Boehm and another SEAL smuggled a CIA agent ashore to take pictures of Soviet nuclear missiles being unloaded on the dockside.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 2, 1968: Two pilots assigned to Edwards escaped serious injury after they abandoned their F-111A some 25 miles southeast of the base due to an in-flight fire. They were the first aircrew to use the F-111’s emergency escape module.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 2, 1989: The Tupolev TU-204, the Soviet Union’s first airliner fitted with a fly-by-wire control system, makes its maiden flight. The aircraft is a twin-engined medium-range jet airliner capable of carrying 210 passengers, designed by Tupolev and produced by Aviastar-SP and Kazan Aircraft Production Association. First introduced in 1989, it is intended to be broadly equivalent to the Boeing 757, with slightly lower range and payload, and has competitive performance and fuel efficiency in its class. It was developed for Aeroflot as a replacement for the medium-range Tupolev Tu-154 trijet. The latest version, with significant upgrades and improvements, is the Tu-204SM, which made its maiden flight on Dec. 29, 2010.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 3, 1966: The second prototype of the XB-70 achieved a speed of Mach 3.05 at 72,000 feet, marking the first time that the aircraft type had flown at three times the speed of sound.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 4, 1952: The North American XA2J-1 Super Savage made its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. It was developed by North American Aviation from the smaller AJ Savage.
The XA2J was intended to be a turboprop-powered derivative of the AJ Savage, with the design as initially proposed in December 1947 a simple modification of the Savage, with extensive use of components of the earlier aircraft. The design gradually evolved, however, to improve performance and increase compatibility with operations from aircraft carriers, as it was recognized that the AJ Savage was deficient in performance and was a less-than-satisfactory carrier aircraft.
The competing Douglas XA3D, the prototypes of which were ordered the year after construction had begun on the XA2J prototypes, first flew in October 1952. The A3D had far superior performance, which doomed the XA2J.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 4, 1957: In the most significant European humanitarian airlift operation since the Berlin Airlift, the U.S. Military Air Transport Service completed Operation Safehaven. The operation was a refugee relief and resettlement operation following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In total, more than 27,000 Hungarian refugees were flown out of Hungary in a 90-day period, with an additional 11,000 being settled in the U.S.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 4, 1966: The XC-142A sustained major damage after falling approximately 25 feet while transitioning from level flight to hover. The crew was uninjured.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 5, 1949: Capt. Chuck Yeager performed the only conventional ground takeoff of the X-1 program. With a limited amount of fuel he took off from the Rogers Dry Lake bed and accelerated to 23,000 feet. Yeager set an unofficial climbing speed record of more than 13,000 feet per minute in the flight.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 6, 1928: In Nicaragua, Marine Corps Lt. C. F. Schilt lands a Vought O2U-1 “Corsair” in the street of a Nicaraguan village of Quilali to rescue wounded officers. Two Marine patrols were ambushed and cut off by Sandino forces. Schilt risked his life to make 10 flights into the besieged town, evacuating 18 casualties and carrying in a replacement commander and badly needed medical supplies. To make a landing strip on the village’s rough, rolling, main street, the Marines on the ground had to burn and level part of the town, and since his O2U Corsair biplane had no brakes they had to stop it by dragging from its wings as soon as it touched down. Eighteen servicemen are rescued and, for his bravery, Lt. Schilt is awarded the Medal of Honor.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 6, 1944: The McDonnell XP-67 “Bat” or “Moonbat” made its first flight. The XP-67 was a prototype for a twin-engine, long-range, single-seat interceptor aircraft for the U.S. Army Air Forces. Although the design was conceptually advanced, it was beset by numerous problems and never approached its anticipated level of performance. The project was cancelled after the sole completed prototype was destroyed by an engine fire.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 7, 1785: The English Channel is crossed for the first time by air, as Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries fly their hydrogen balloon from Dover, England, to a forest near Calais, France. Blanchard was awarded a substantial pension by Louis XVI, and the king ordered the balloon and boat be hung up in the church of Église Notre-Dame de Calais. Jeffries was a Boston physician, scientist, and a military surgeon with the British Army in Nova Scotia and New York during the American Revolution. Jeffries lived in England from 1779 to 1790. Despite being named in the Massachusetts Banishment Act, he returned to private practice in Boston, staying there until his death in 1819.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jan. 7, 1944: The U.S. Army Air Forces announces development and production of its first jet-propelled fighter airplane, the Bell P-59 “Airacomet.”
 
 
 

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