World Aviation in 1997

9 January
Balloonists Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson abandon their non-stop, round-the-flight in Virgin Global Challenger, when its hydrogen gas buoyancy cell develops a leak.

12 January
A non-stop, round-the-world balloon flight by Bertrand Piccard and Wim Verstraeten ends in failure when a fuel leak forces the balloonists to ditch in the Mediterranean shortly after take-off.

20 January
A new balloon absolute distance record of 16,722 kilometres (10,363 miles) is set by Steve Fossett, during his unsuccessful non-stop, round the world flight, which he is forced to abandon in India 6 days after his departure from the USA.

23 February
93 construction workers are rescued by helicopter from a burning Bangkok skyscraper, which caught fire during building work.

9 April
The first production Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22A Raptor is rolled out.

28 April
The first five production V-22 Osprey tiltrotors are delivered by Bell Boeing for use by the United States Marines.

25 June
The Russian space station Mir ('Peace') and its re-supply craft collide in orbit forcing the Mir astronauts to shut down most of the spacecraft’s systems.

4 July
The Mars Pathfinder lands on the surface of Mars after its 6 month journey from Earth.

31 July
The McDonnell Douglas company is taken over by Boeing.

7 September
Initial flight trials of the first pre-production Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor commence. The Raptor is to succeed the United States Air Force’s McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle in the air dominance fighter role.

8 September
The Boeing 777-300 is rolled out. At 73 metres (242 feet) it is the longest airliner ever built.

15 October
A Saturn probe is launched from Cape Canaverel on a 1,499,676 kilometre journey that will take 7 years. The Cassini-Huygens probe will gather data about Saturn and its moon Titan.

16 December
The United Arab Emirates orders thirty Dassault Breguet Mirage 2000-9 aircraft to replace the Mirage V, in a deal worth $2.9 million.

22 December
The Eurofighter 2000 receives the go-ahead from Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, with orders for 600 production aircraft.