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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    The History of Flight from Around the World


    • December 2009 - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner long-range mid-size widebody twinjet, largely constructed of carbonfibre material, makes its first flight. 

    • May 11, 2009 - NASA's Last Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission (HST SM-04), and the final Non-ISS shuttle flight.


    • June 12, 2008 - Lockheed Martin makes the first F-35B short-take-off-and-vertical-landing (STOVL), in conventional-take-off (CTOL) mode, clearing the way for funding to be released for production of the first six U.S. Marine Corps aircraft. The 44-minute flight of aircraft BF-1, the first production-representative F-35, also marks the start of a five-year, 5,000-plus test program involving three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter: the CTOL F-35A, STOVL F-35B and aircraft carrier-capable F-35C.

    • April 19, 2008 - The return of the Expedition 16 crew from the International Space Station on Saturday, 19 April 2008, is an historic moment for women in aerospace. Aboard the Soyuz is Commander Peggy Whitson, Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko and spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi. It's the first time women outnumbered men on a spacecraft. Also, Peggy is the first female commander of the space station. On 25 October 2007, she and Pam Melroy became the first two women to command spacecraft in space concurrently. Pam was the shuttle commander. On Wednesday, 16 April 2008, Peggy breaks Mike Foale's record for cumulative time in space for a U.S. astronaut of 374 days in space. She lands Saturday, 19 April 2008, with a total of 377 days in space, on two flights, ranking 20th all-time.


    • October 2007 - The Airbus A380 enters initial commercial service with Singapore Airlines on its service between Singapore and Sydney, Australia, passengers having bought seats in an online auction. Within four years some 16 million passengers would have been carried by A380s. (By June 2012, 72 are in service).

    • March 19, 2007 - The Airbus A380, the world’s biggest commercial airliner, makes first flights to the United States, with one touching down in New York at John F. Kennedy International Airport and another in California at Los Angeles International Airport.


    • December 15, 2006 - First flight of a U.S. Air Force aircraft, a B-52 Stratofortress, powered solely by a blend of synthetic jet fuel, produced by Syntroleum.

    • December 15, 2006 - Lockheed Martin officials declare the maiden flight of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter a "huge success.” The flight, which was initially scheduled for one hour, instead lands after 35 minutes because two airspeed sensors aboard the aircraft were generating conflicting data. Officials call the problem a minor glitch.

    • September 28, 2006 - The world's first female tourist, Anousheh Ansari, landed after a 10-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS). Launched on September 18, 2006 from Baiknour, Iranian-born U.S. Citizen Ansari spent eight days at the ISS and carried out human physiology experiments for the European Space Agency (ESA). Ansari travelled to the station onboard Soyuz TMA-9.

    • September 27, 2006 - The first ever operation on a human in zero gravity takes place using a specially adapted aircraft to simulate conditions in space. During a 3-hour flight from Bordeaux, France, a team of surgeons successfully remove a benign tumor from the forearm of a 46-year-old volunteer. The experiment was part of a program backed by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop techniques for performing robotic surgery aboard the International Space Station or at a future Moon base. The custom-designed Airbus 300 aircraft – dubbed Zero-G – performed a series of parabolic swoops, creating about 20 seconds of weightlessness at the top of each curve. The process was repeated 32 times.

    • March 10, 2006 - The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, designed and built by Lockheed Martin, NASA, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, underwent successful orbit insertion around Mars. The satellite will perform scientific reconnaissance of the planet’s surface, delivering data five times greater than all previous Mars missions, providing global maps of the planet and its climate, looking for future landing sites, and enabling communications support and data relay for missions planned for 2007 and beyond.


    • November 10, 2005 - A Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner set a world record for the longest non-stop flight by a commercial jet. The plane flew 12,586 miles from Hong Kong to London. The plane made the trip in 22 hours and 42 minutes.

    • October 11, 2005 - China launched its second human spaceflight into Earth orbit. A rocket carrying the Shenzhou VI capsule and two taikonauts, Fei Junlong and Nie Haishen, blasted off from a remote base in China's northwest.

    • July 26, 2005 - STS-114 rocketed into the skies above NASA's Kennedy Space Center, at 10:39 AM EDT, returning the Shuttle fleet to flight after more than two years.

    • July 4, 2005 - NASA's Deep Impact (flyby spacecraft) successfully reached out and touched comet Tempel 1, after 172 days and 431 million kilometers (268 million miles) of deep space stalking. The collision between the coffee table-sized impactor and city-sized comet occurred at 1:52 a.m. EDT.

    • April 29, 2005 - The last Titan 4 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, ending nearly five decades of Titan launches from Florida.

    • April 28, 2005 - Boeing delivered the last 757, to Shanghai Airlines, after 23 years of production. The 757 fleet worldwide has flown more than 35 million hours, which is equivalent to one airplane flying continuously for 4,000 years.

    • April 27, 2005 - The Airbus A380 double-deck, widebody superjumbo, successfully makes its maiden flight, leaving Blagnac International Airport in Toulouse, France at 10.29 hours local time from runway 32L. It is the world's largest airliner, with accommodation for 525 passengers in a three-class configuration or up to 853 in an all-economy-class configuration, a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 and sufficient range to fly from New York to Hong Kong.


    • November 16, 2004 - NASA's X-43A hypersonic test vehicle breaks record as its scramjet engine propels it to nearly 10 times the speed of sound. The vehicle, launched from a Pegasus rocket, reaches Mach 9.8, or 7,000 mph, as it flies at about 110,000 ft. This milestone has been officially recognized by Guinness World Records.

    • October 4, 2004 - Burt Rutan and the SpaceShipOne team capture the $10 million X Prize for the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within a 14 day period.

    • March 3, 2004 - Steve Fossett sets an aviation world record for speed around the world solo, non-stop and non-refueled, completing the journey in a plane called Global Flyer, in 67 hours and 1 minute.

    • January 14, 2004 - President Bush's vision for space travel includes the retirement of the space shuttles and a commitment to return human beings to the moon by 2020 to man a research station and develop a jumping-off point for Mars exploration.

    • January 3, 2004 - NASA's Rover Spirit successfully lands on the surface of Mars.


    • December 17, 2003 - The first manned supersonic flight by an aircraft developed by a small company's private, non-government effort. This flight was the first powered flight of SpaceShipOne.

    • December 17, 2003 - 100th anniversary of the first powered, manned, heavier-than-air, controlled flight.

    • December 8, 2003 - NASA astronaut Michael Foale, International Space Station Expedition 8 Commander and NASA Science Officer, surpassed the previous U.S. space endurance record with a total of 230 days, 13 hours, three minutes and 37 seconds.

    • October 24, 2003 - British Airways' Concorde supersonic jet makes its last flight.

    • October 14, 2003 - China launches its first manned space mission, with Taikonaut Lt. Col. Yang Liwei aboard.

    • October 14, 2003 - The Concorde breaks its own record for a trans-Atlantic flight with a hop from London to Boston that lasted just three hours, five minutes and 34 seconds.

    • September 22, 2003 - David Hempleman-Adams became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic in an open wicker-basket balloon. The flight took 83 hours, 14 minutes and 35 seconds to complete.

    • September 21, 2003 - NASA's Galileo spacecraft ends its' 14-year mission when it plunges into Jupiter's cloud deck at about 108,000 mph.

    • July 31, 2003 - Austrian Felix Baumgartner flies across the English Channel on a carbon fiber wing. The trip totaled 21 miles and lasted 14 minutes.

    • July 29, 2003 - The 1,000th consecutive day of people living and working aboard the International Space Station.

    • June 26, 2003 - The remotely operated Helios Prototype aircraft is destroyed when it crashes into the Pacific Ocean.

    • June 20, 2003 - Pratt & Whitney announces the completion of Mach 4.5 ground testing on the world’s first flight-weight, hydrocarbon-fueled, scramjet engine.

    • March 7, 2003 - The Bell Agusta 609, the world's first civilian tiltrotor aircraft, rose vertically for the first time from Bell Textron's Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas. The maiden flight lasted 36 minutes and included hovering, turns, forward and backwards flight as well as four takeoffs and landings.

    • February 1, 2003 - STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia, is lost as it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere. Seven astronauts are killed.

    • January 25, 2003 - NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) successfully launched aboard a Pegasus XL rocket.

    • January 22, 2003 - After more than 30 years in space, the Pioneer 10 spacecraft sends its last signal to Earth.


    • November 26, 2002 - Commander John B. Herrington becomes the first Native American to walk in space during the mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which launched Nov. 23, 2002.

    • August 25, 2002 - NASA sets a world record for the largest balloon successfully launched, when it flew a 60 million cubic foot balloon carrying a 1,500-pound scientific payload to the fringes of space.

    • August 21, 2002 - The Atlas 5, intended to carry twice the capacity of previous Atlases, lifts off on its maiden voyage from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a European-built telecommunications satellite.

    • July 31, 2002 - First flight of the Boeing 747-ER, which can carry 15,000 more pounds of people or cargo and can fly about 410 nautical miles farther than existing 747-400s.

    • July 30, 2002 - The first successful flight test of a hypersonic scramjet engine in Australia. This air-breathing scramjet engine, which burns hydrogen fuel, could theoretically power aircraft at Mach 8, for two-hour trans-Atlantic flights.

    • July 2, 2002 - Steve Fossett, in the 180-foot-tall "Spirit of Freedom" balloon, circumnavigates the globe on his sixth try.


    • December 18, 2001 - NASA sends final message to Deep Space 1, ending its' 3 year mission to test high risk, advanced space technologies and capture the best images ever taken of a comet.

    • November 2, 2001 - The International Space Station marks one full year of continuous international human presence in orbit.

    • September 11, 2001 - Terrorists fly three Boeing airliners into New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon – a fourth aircraft crashes in Pennsylvania – changing history and aviation security in the 21st century.

    • July 20, 2001 - The X-35B, flown by USMC Maj. Art Tomassetti, performs the world’s first short takeoff, level supersonic dash and vertical landing in a single flight.

    • July 12, 2001 - STS-104 launches to deliver the new Joint Airlock to the International Space Station. The Airlock provides astronauts living aboard the space station access to and from space wearing space suits without the need of a docked shuttle.

    • July 9, 2001 - The X-35B completes its first airborne transition from STOVL propulsion mode to conventional mode, completing a supersonic mission on the same flight.

    • June 24, 2001 - The X-35B, achieves its first sustained hover.

    • June 23, 2001 - The X-35B becomes the first Joint Strike Fighter demonstrator to perform a vertical takeoff and vertical landing.

    • May 24, 2001 - Polly Vacher touches down in Birmingham, England and becomes the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a small plane via a Pacific Ocean route that took her to Australia.

    • March 23, 2001 - The remains of the Russian space station Mir re-enters the Earth's atmosphere on its final flight and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.


    • November 2, 2000 - Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko, Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev dock with the International Space Station and become the first residents to live on board.

    • July 2000 - Air France Concorde F-BTSC suffers a tyre burst during take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle and crashes in flames into a hotel at Gonesse, killing all 109 on board, as well as four on the ground, and injuring six other people. All Concordes in the Air France and British Airways fleets are subsequently grounded.

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