World Aviation in 1972

5 January
United States President Richard Nixon announces $5.5 billion funding to develop the Space Shuttle.

13 February
The Soviet Union begins using Cuba as a base for reconnaissance aircraft, surveying and gathering intelligence along the American coast.

16-27 April
Apollo 16 successfully lands on the Moon and returns to Earth.

10 May
Lieutenant Randy Cunningham and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) William Driscoll of the United States Navy (USN) shoot down Colonel Toon, the top North Vietnamese ace and two other MiG17 aircraft and become the first United States aces of the Vietnam war. Later in the same mission, their aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom, is hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM), but they successfully return to their aircraft carrier.

19 May
An Indian Government spokesman in New Delhi says that Indian security forces have orders to destroy all Pakistani aircraft violating India’s airspace.

26 May
The Cessna aircraft company announces the completion of the company’s 100,000th aircraft, the first company in the world to achieve this figure.

30 May
Three Japanese terrorists kill 25 people and injure 72 at Tel Aviv Airport in Israel when they remove guns and grenades from their luggage and begin shooting. The terrorists had just stepped off a flight from Rome.

28 August
Captain Richard S. Ritchie shoots down his fifth MiG21 and becomes the first United States Air Force (USAF) ace of the Vietnam war.

22 September
Delta Airlines orders fourteen Boeing 727 aircraft, bringing the total sales of the airliner to a record 1,000.

29 October
A Lufthansa Boeing 727, flying from Beirut to Ankara is hijacked by a terrorist, demanding the release of three Palestinians held for murdering Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games.

7-19 December
Apollo 17, the last manned NASA mission to the moon, is completed successfully by the crew of lunar module pilot Harrison H. Schmitt, Ronald E. Evans and commander Eugene A. Curnan, who still holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the surface of the Moon.

23 December
The great Russian aircraft designer Andrei Nikolayavich Tupolev dies aged 86.

26 December
As part of Operation Linebacker II, a concentrated offensive ordered by President Nixon on December 18th, a force of 117 United States Air Force (USAF) Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers attack Hanoi in the largest raid of the Vietnam war to date.

29 December
It is revealed at a press conference in Montevideo that the survivors of a Uruguayan airliner crash in the Andes, which occurred on October 13, were forced to eat those who died in the crash in order to stay alive.