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On This Day in Aviation History MAY 17 th
 
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1879 - Birth of Hans Grade, German aviation pioneer.

1882 - Birth of Alfred de Pischof, Austrian engineer, early aviation pioneer and aircraft designer.

1888 - Birth of Robert Norwood "Bob" Hall, South African WWI flying ace

1888 - Birth of Arturo Merino Benítez, Chilean aviator, founder of both the Chilean Air Force and LAN Chile, the national airline.

1893 - Birth of Hans Gottfried von Häbler, German WWI flying ace.

1894 - Birth of Paul Georges Alexandre Rodde, French WWI flying ace.

1894 - Birth of Raymond James Brownell, Australian WWI flying ace and high ranking officer in WWII

1895 - Birth of Georg Wulf, German aviation pionneer, test pilot and aircraft designer. He was one of the founder of the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau AG company.

1897 - Birth of John William Rayner, British WWI flying ace who served in WWII

1898 - Birth of Jean Antoine Réginensi, French raid pilot and record setter, who served in WWI and WWII.

1898 - Birth of John De Camborne Paynter, British WWI flying ace

1898 - Birth of George Chisholm MacKay, Canadian WWI fighter ace

1900 - French-born gliding pioneer Octave Chanute replies to a letter from the Wright brothers. He recommends they study gliding tests carried out by a number of innovators, including Louis-Pierre Mouillard and Percy Pilcher.

1909 - Birth of Jan Willem Hugo Lambach, Dutch physics engineer and aircraft designer.

1911 - Igor Sikorsky makes what he called the 1st real flight (4 minutes) of his Sikorsky S-5 , in a circuit off the field.

1911 - 1st flight of The Blackburn Mercury, early British mid-wing monoplane 2 tandem seat aircraft designed as a pilot trainer for the Blackburn Flying School.

1912 - Birth of Alexandru "Alecu" Serbanescu, Romanian WWII leading fighter ace

1913 - Cuban Domingo Rosillo flew from Key West in Florida to Havana in Cuba, in a Morane-Saulnier monoplane, 1st aviator to cross the 90 miles between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba.

1916 - An experiment is conducted at Harwich, in which a Porte Baby flying boat, piloted by John Cyril Porte, takes off with a Bristol Scout attached as a 'parasite' to its wing. The Scout, with Flight Sub- Lieutenant Day at the controls, detaches successfully at 300 metres (1,000 feet).

1916 - Birth of Robert Henry Widmer,  American aeronautical engineer who specialized in designing aircraft for the military. He led the design teams for the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon

1918 - Death of Franz Gräser, Austro Hungarian WWI fighter ace, killed in action in his Albatros D.III

1918 - Death of Eugene Gilbert, French WWI flying ace, in a crash while testing a plane at Villacoublay, France

1919 - Naval Curtiss aircraft NC-4 coming from Trepassey, Newfoundland, for Lisbon, reached the town of Horta on Faial Island in the Azores, the longest leg of the journey. having flown about 1,200 miles (1,920 km). It had taken the crewmen 15 hours, 18 minutes, to fly this leg. Both the NC-1 and the NC-3 were been forced to land on the rough Atlantic Ocean because the poor visibility and loss of a visual horizon made flying extremely dangerous.

1919 - The War Department in Washington, D.C. orders the use of the national insignia on all U.S. military aircrafts.

1920 - Death of Cyril Burfield Ridley, British WWI flying ace, and John Dartnell "Jack" De Pencier, Canadian WWI flying ace. Both killed when they collided in the air Near Cologne, Germany.

1923 - Death of Thomas Scott Baldwin, U.S. Army major and pioneer balloonist. He was the 1st American to descend from a balloon by parachute.

1927 - 1st flight of prototype  Bristol Bulldog MK1, british single-seat biplane fighter.

1927 – U.S. Army aviation pioneer, Major Harold Geiger, dies in the crash of his Airco DH.4 de Havilland plane at Olmstead Field, Pennsylvania.

1928 - Lady Heath (formerly Mrs. Elliot-Lynn) lands in London, becoming the 1st woman to fly solo from Cape Town, South Africa to London, England in an Avro Avian 594 Avian III.

1928 - 1st flight of the Vickers Vellore, British large biplane prototype designed as a freight and mail carrier.

1929 - Colin Spenser (Jack) Caldwell was testing Canadian Vickers Vedette (single-engine biplane flying boat) G-CYZF (CV 122), when on entering a spin he found he was unable to recover.  He abandoned the machine by parachute and landed safely on an island in the St Lawrence and became the 1st Canadian to save his life by a parachute.

1930 - Death of Max Valier, Austrian rocketry pioneer, killed when an alcohol-fuelled rocket exploded on his test bench in Berlin

1934 - 1st flight of the Avia 50, French single seat motor glider.

1942 - The Sikosky XR-4, two-place helicopter, flew a distance of 1224km.

1943 - Specially modified RAF Avro Lancasters of 617 Squadron "Dambusters" returns from raids on the Möhne, Eder, and Sorpe dams during operation Chastise.

1943 - Boeing B-17F-10-BO Flying Fortress Serial 41-24485, Memphis Belle, 324th Bomb Squadron, makes her 25th Bombing mission. (controversy between 17-19). The aircraft and entire crew then returned to the United States to sell war bonds. The aircraft is undergoing extensive restoration at the National Museum of the USAF at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

1943 - Colonel Frank Gregory made the 1st helicopter landing aboard ship in Long Island Sound, USA with a Sikosky XR-4, two-seat helicopter.

1945 - 1st flight of The Lockheed P-2 Neptune (originally designated P2V until September 1962), American Maritime patrol and ASW aircraft.

1946 - 1st flight of The Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster, American jet-powered prototype bomber aircraft.

1947 - 1st flight of The Mooney M-18 "Mite", American low-wing, single-place monoplane with retractable, tricycle landing gear

1948 - 1st flight of the 2nd prototype Boulton Paul Balliol, British monoplane military advanced trainer aircraft, fitted with the intended Armstrong Siddeley Mamba turboprop. It's the world's 1st single-engined turboprop aircraft to fly. It was designed to replace the North American Harvard trainer.

1950 - The air above Muroc Dry Lake, California, exploded in sonic booms as Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier put the XF-90 (long-range penetration fighter and bomber escort.) through high-speed dive tests, reaching Mach 1.12.

1954 - Navy non-rigid airship YZP6-2 established new world endurance record for unrefueled flight of 200 hours and 12 minutes, commanded by Comdr. M. H. Eppes 

1957 - 1st flight of a Modified Sikorsky HSS-1, shipped to Westland in 1956 to act as a pattern aircraft, re-engined with a Napier Gazelle turboshaft engine. It will lead to the Westland Wessex design.

1958 - 4 F3H Demons and 4 F8U Crusaders make a non-stop crossing of the Atlantic

1962 - Death of Harry Lutz Symons, Canadian WWI flying ace

1964 - Death of John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, English aviation pioneer, 1st person to qualify as a pilot in the UK, awarded Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate number 1

1967 - Birth of Joseph Michael "Joe" Acaba, educator, hydrogeologist, and NASA astronaut, 1st person of Puerto Rican heritage to be named as a NASA astronaut

1969 - Soviet spacecraft Venera 6 begins its descent into the atmosphere of Venus, sending back atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure.

1969 - 1st flight of the Wassmer WA-52 'Europa', French glass-fibre single-engined four-seat cabin monoplane. 

1973 - The 'Second Cod War': RAF British Aerospace (BAe) Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft begin surveillance flights to establish the positions of Icelandic Government gunboats and United Kingdom trawlers within the 50 mile zone proclaimed by the Icelandic Government.

1975 - Launch of Castor and Pollux, French geodetic Satellites to test in space the CACTUS accelerometer (ultrasensitive triaxial capacitive accelerometric sensor)

1981 - Death of Jeannette Ridlon Piccard, American high-altitude balloonist, 1st woman to fly to the stratosphere.

1987 – An Iraqi Air Force Dassault Mirage F1 jet hits the US Navy guided-missile frigate USS Stark (FFG-31) with two Exocet antiship cruise missiles, badly damaging her and killing 37 and wounding 21 of her crew.

1992 - Flughafen München Franz Josef Strauß  (IATA: MUC, ICAO: EDDM), starts operations as new Munich international airport.

1997 - 1st flight of the McDonnel Douglas X-36, American tailless fighter technology demonstrator, power for which is provided by a 700 lb. s.t. Williams International F112 turbofan.

1999 - 1st flight of the Issoire APM 20 Lionceau, French 2-seat very light aircraft entirely built from composite materials, especially carbon fibers.

2003 - Death of Gerhard Schöpfel, German WWII flying ace.

2009 - Death of Adolf Dickfeld, German WWII fighter ace.

2010 - Pamir Airways Flight 112 Antonov An-24, crashed in poor weather into Salang Pass, 100 km north of Kabul, Afghanistan, killing all 44 on borad.