World Aviation in 1946

10 January
A United States Army Sikorsky R5 sets an unofficial helicopter height record of 6,400 metres (21,000 feet) at Stratford in Connecticut.

26 January
The United States Army Air Force (USAAF) establishes its first experimental guided missile group, at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

26 January
Colonel William H. Council, piloting a Lockheed P80 Shooting Star, makes a record breaking flight from Long Beach in Los Angeles to La Guardia in New York. It is the fastest crossing of the United States to date – 2,470 miles in 4 hours 13 minutes 26 seconds at an average speed of 584mph. Also the longest non-stop flight by a jet aircraft.

8 March
The Bell Model 47 is granted the first commercial helicopter certificate to be awarded by the United States Civil Aviation Authority.

21 March
The United States Army Air Force (USAAF) establishes its Air Defense Command, Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command.

24 April
Winged Cargo Inc. begins operations in the USA. This glider (sailplane) commercial freight service uses Waco gliders, towed by Douglas DC3s.

1 June
A Pan American World Airways (Pan-Am) Constellation lands at London Heathrow on the Airline’s first scheduled New York to London service.

22 June
Two United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Lockheed P80 Shooting Star fighters carry the first United States airmail to travel by turbojet powered aircraft, from Shenectady to Washington DC and Chicago in Illinois.

26 June
The United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and United States Navy (USN) officially adopt the knot and nautical mile as standard aeronautical units for speed and distance.

1 July
Operation Crossroads: a Boeing B29 of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) drops an atomic bomb over 73 naval vessels anchored at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

21 July
A McDonnell XFD1 Phantom jet takes off from, and lands on, an aircraft carrier, the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, while she lies off Cape Henry in Virginia. The aircraft is piloted by Lieutenant Commander James J. Davidson.

25 July
Just over 10 years after his death, Brigadier General William ‘Billy’ Mitchell is posthumously awarded the United States Congressional Medal of Honour.

17 August
Sergeant L. Lambert of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) becomes the first person in the United States to make a manned test of an ejection seat. A Northrop P61 Black Widow flying at 483kph (300mph) at 2,375 metres (7800 feet) is used as the test aircraft.

11-12 September
The first post war meeting of the Fédération Aéronautique International (FAI).

29 September
A United States Navy (USN) Lockheed P2V Neptune crewed by Commander T. Davis and E.P. Rankin, sets a new non-stop world distance record of 18,081 kilometres (11,235 miles) flying from Perth in Australia to Columbus in Ohio.

1 October
The Belgian Air Force is re-established.

1 October
United States experiments in postal delivery by helicopter are made in the Chicago suburbs, in a combined operation by the United States Post Office and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), using a Sikorsky helicopter.

6 October
The first non-stop flight from Hawaii to Egypt over the North Pole is made in a Boeing B29 aircraft of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), covering a distance of 17,498 kilometres (10,873 miles).

1 November
United States Navy non-rigid airship XM1 completes a flight of 170 hours 3 minutes establishing a world record for a flight un-sustained by any form of refuelling.

13 November
V.J. Schaefer of the General Electric Company created the first artificial snow. A cloud is seeded with dry-ice pellets from an aircraft flying over Greylock Mountain in Massachusetts.