World Aviation in 1976

17 March
A Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 makes the first non-stop flight from Tokyo to New York, covering the 6,300 mile journey in 11 hours 30 minutes.

24 March
A Boeing 747SP lands at Cape Town after setting a world non-stop distance record for a civil aircraft of 10,290 miles.

1 April
Piper’s 100,000th airplane, a PA31T Cheyenne II is rolled out from the company’s Lock Haven plant.

5 April
Movie Mogul, oil magnate and air pioneer Howard Hughes dies from a stroke. Starting out as an amateur racing pilot, he became an aircraft manufacturer, culminating in the huge eight-engined flying boat ‘Spruce Goose’, as well becoming Director of TWA airlines.

24 May
Filipino Troops storm a Philippines Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC9 that was hijacked the day before by six terrorists and flown to Zamboanga airport. Three hijackers are killed, among ten deaths in the ensuing battle, and the remaining three hijackers are captured.

22 June
The Soviet Union launches the Salyut space station into orbit.

20 July
The Israeli Air Force unveils the IAI Kfir C2 fighter, a modified version of the French Mirage III fighter.

20 July
The first photograph is taken on Mars. A 340° panorama is transmitted by Viking I at Chryse Plaita on Mars to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena in California.

1 July
Clive Canning arrives in the United Kingdom after a solo flight from Australia in a home built Thorp T18 Tiger, making the first Australia-England flight in an aircraft of amateur construction.

4 July
Israeli commandos free over a hundred hostages from a hijacked Air France Airbus A300, which had landed at Entebbe airfield in Uganda 8 days previously. Three hostages, the commando’s leader and all seven hijackers are killed in a 35 minute gunfight.

The hostages, mostly Israeli citizens or Jews, were about to be shot when three Israeli Air Force Lockheed C130 Hercules aircraft landed at the airstrip to deliver the commandos. The commandos took control of the airfield, freed the hostages, killed the hijackers and destroyed thirteen Soviet made MiG fighter aircraft of the Ugandan Air Force.

28 July
Captain E.W. Joersz and Major G.T. Morgan Jr set a new world speed record for an air breathing craft, of 3,529kph (2,193mph) in a Lockheed SR71 Blackbird.

6 September
Soviet Lieutenant Viktor Belenko defects to Japan from the USSR in a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG25 ‘Foxbat’ fighter. Landing unannounced at Hokkaido airport at 1357hrs, he then requests asylum in the USA.

9 December
The 008 Escadrilla of the Arma Aéreade La Armada Española, Spain’s first AV8A Matador jump-jet squadron, becomes operational.

22 December
The first fully automated landing of an Airbus A300 in commercial service, is made by an A300B2 of Air Inter in bad weather at Orly airport.