- 17 Dec 1943 - Orville Wright presented the Collier Trophy to his former pupil, Gen. Henry H. Arnold, Commanding General, U.S. Army Air Forces, for outstanding achievement in aviation in 1942.
- 17 Dec 1944 - Maj. Richard Bong, 9th Fighter Squadron, shot down his 40th enemy plane in the Pacific.
- 17 Dec 1945 - President Harry Truman presented
the 1944 Collier Trophy to Gen. Carl Spaatz for "demonstrating the
airpower concept," in the European War.
- 17 Dec 1946 - At Hollomon AFB, N.M., the National Institute of Health started a space biological research program.
- 17 Dec 1950 - During the Korean War, Far East
Air Forces F-86 Sabres met North Korean MiG-15s for the first time in combat.
Lt. Col. Bruce H. Hinton achieved the first F-86 aerial victory over a MiG-15.
- 17 Dec 1957 - From Cape Canaveral, Fla., the Convair HGM-16
(Atlas A) intercontinental ballistic missile made its first fully successful
flight test landing in a target area some 500 miles away. The A-model had
boosters, but no sustainer engines, and could not achieve stage separation in
- 17 Dec 1963 - U.S. Air Force's new C-141A
Starlifter jet cargo transport flies for the first time at Dobbins AFB, Ga.
Capable of crossing any ocean nonstop at more than 500 mph, the Starlifter can
transport 154 troops. It can carry a 70,000-pound payload.
- 17 Dec 1967 - The RF-111A prototype reconnaissance plane made its first flight at Fort Worth, Texas.
- 17 Dec 1969 - Military Airlift Command and the
443rd Military Airlift Wing at Altus AFB, Okla., received the first C-5A aircraft.
- 17 Dec 1969 - Secretary of the Air Force Robert
C. Seamans Jr., announced that the Air Force had ended the Project Blue Book
investigation of unidentified flying objects.
- 17 Dec 1980 - The A-7K Prototype arrived at
Edwards AFB, Calif.
- 17 Dec 1991 - The 436th, 438th, and 439th Military Airlift Wings flew 238 tons of food and relief supplies to Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia, Minsk in Byelorussia and Yerevan in Armenia lasting through Dec. 22.
- 18 Dec 1941 – Lt. “Buzz” Wagner became the first American ace of World War II, when he shot down his fifth Japanese plane over the Philippines in four days. He flew with the 17th Pursuit Squadron.
- 18 Dec 1958 - At Point Mugu, 1st Lts. Einar N. Enevoldson and William T. Smith flew F-104 Starfighters to seven time-to-climb records, ranging from 9,842 feet in 42 seconds to 82,021 feet in four minutes, 29 seconds.
- 18 Dec 1958 - The U.S. Air Force places in orbit
the first artificial communications satellite using the four-ton Atlas
launcher. The next day, the satellite broadcasts a taped recording of President
Dwight D. Eisenhower's Christmas message.
- 18 Dec 1961 - B-52Gs from the 4241st Strategic Wing at Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., conducted the GAM-72A Quail missile's first combat evaluation launches at Eglin AFB, Fla.
- 18 Dec 1969 - The Air Force Missile Development
Center completed the first guided launch of an AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface
- 18 Dec 1972 - During a Linebacker II mission
over Vietnam Staff Sgt. Samuel O. Turner became the first B-52 tail gunner to
shoot down an enemy airplane, a MiG-21.
- 18 Dec 1972 - President Nixon directs the resumption of full-scale bombing and mining in North Vietnam, in an operation known as Linebacker II.
- 18 Dec 1974 - President Gerald R. Ford signed a law to permit non-flyers to command flying units.
- 18 Dec 1975 - First F-15 Eagle delivered to the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, VA.
- 19 Dec 1954 - Convair's F-102 Delta Dagger made its first flight.
- 19 Dec 1957 - In the fourth successful launch, a Thor missile flew its first fully guided intermediate-range ballistic missile flight using an all-inertial guidance system.
- 19 Dec 1973 - The U.S. Air Force approved the
procurement of 52 A-10 Thunderbolt production aircraft, associated engines, and
GAU-8A 30 mm gun systems. This followed a successful flight evaluation fly-off
of the A-10 with the A-7D Corsair.
- 19 Dec 1974 - Deputy Secretary of Defense William P. Clements, Jr., authorized the production of A-10s.
- 19 Dec 1979 - Military Airlift Command supported British Commonwealth troops monitoring a ceasefire and elections in Zimbabwe through Dec. 27th, by flying airlift control elements, aircrews, and communications equipment to the airports at Cairo, Egypt; Salisbury, Zimbabwe; and Mombasa, Kenya. Using two C-5's and 10 C-141's from Royal Air Force Brize-people and Norton, England MAC flew 335 people and 428 tons of cargo to Salisbury in 23 missions. Three months later two C-5 missions returned 120 British troops and 100 tons of equipment to RAF Brize-Norton.
- Dec 20 1941 - WWII: The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, enter combat against the Japanese over Kunming.
- 20 Dec 1943 - On a mission to Bremen, Germany, radio operator, Tech. Sgt. Forest Vosler, showed unusual courage when his B-17 sustained flak damage and hits from enemy aircraft. He received wounds in his legs, but still fired his gun at the attackers. Then another shell exploded near him, lodging splinters in his chest, head, and both eyes. He refused first aid and, between lapses of consciousness, repaired a damaged radio by touch. After the plane ditched in the water, Sgt. Vosler scrambled out on a wing unaided and held another badly wounded man until others could help them into a dingy. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions.
- 20 Dec 1948 - The XB-47 Stratojet averaged 500
mph for a 1,000-mile flight from Moses Lake, Wash., to Albuquerque, N.M.
- 20 Dec 1950 - During the Korean War and Operation Christmas Kidlift, the 61st Troop Carrier Group airlifted more than 800 endangered South Korean orphans on 12 C-54s to Kimpo to Cheju-do, an island off the South Korean coast.
- 20 Dec 1958 - First attempted Titan I launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., failed.
- 20 Dec 1960 - The U.S. Air Force used a Thor-Agena A to launch Discoverer XIX from Cape Canaveral, Fla., into a polar orbit, where infrared scanners tested future Midas equipment.
- 20 Dec 1962 - When Strategic Air Command declared the Atlas F missiles of the 556th Strategic Missile Squadron at Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y., to be operational, the Atlas deployment program ended.
- 20 Dec 1963 - Strategic Air Command's
responsibility for the Thor missile in the United Kingdom ended when the Royal Air Force phased out the missile.
- 20 Dec 1968 - NASA terminated the X-15 program. The X-15's 200th flight, scheduled for this day, was cancelled for bad weather.
- 20 Dec 1971 - The NF-104 rocket-powered aerospace training aircraft completed its last flight. Students at Edwards AFB, Calif., used the NF-104 for steep zoom climb flights to reach the fringes of space.
- 20 Dec 1972 - The M2-F3 lifting body completed its 27th and final flight after an air launch from a B-52. It reached 1,066 mph and 17,500 feet.
- 20 Dec 1984 - Two C-130 Hercules aircraft moved 23.8 tons of emergency rescue equipment and vehicles to help in the unsuccessful rescue of 27 miners trapped over a mile below the earth's surface near Huntington, Utah.
- 20 Dec 1989 - In Operation Just Cause, Military Airlift Command units transport 9,500 airborne troops from Pope AFB, N.C., to Panama in less than 36 hours, making it the longest night-combat airdrop since the Normandy invasion of 1944.
- 20 Dec 1989 - During Operation Just Cause, the U.S. forces restored democracy in Panama. Military Airlift Command played a significant role in the operations as 24 active and nine reserve units completed 84 airdrops, and 22 C-130s, 77 C-141s, and 12 C-5s flew employment missions. Another 40 C-141s and 12 C-5s airlifted follow-on security forces. Meanwhile Strategic Air Command KC-135s and KC-10s flew more than 160 missions to deliver 10 million pounds of fuel. From Tactical Air Command, the F-117A Stealth Fighter made its combat debut by dropping 2,000 pound bombs to "disorient, stun, and confuse" Panamanian defense force troops near Ria Hato. The Army's AH-64 Apache helicopter from the 82nd Airborne Division's Aviation Brigade saw action for the first time, launching AGM-114 Hellfire missiles against enemy targets. In aero-medical evacuations to Jan. 5, 1990, eight C-141s and one C-130 flew 257 wounded soldiers from Panama to the U.S. During humanitarian airlift, airlifters carried three tons of medical supplies.
- 20 Dec 1989 - A 16th Special Operations Squadron
AC-130 crew, under the command of Capt. Greg McMillian, received the 1990
Mackay Trophy for leading the attack on the Panamanian Commandancia in
Operation Just Cause.
- 20 Dec 1989 - Air Force Reserve crews contributed to the success of Operation Just Cause. Reserve airlifters carried more than 5,900 passengers and 3,700 tons of cargo, while refuelers supported active and reserve aircraft. Reserve gunships flew 29 sorties and expended over 7,000 rounds of ammunition.
- 20 Dec 1989 - Air National Guard fighter, special operations, and airlift units also participated in Operation Just Cause. Participants included the 114th Tactical Fighter Group, 180th Tactical Fighter Group, 193rd Special Operations Group, and the 105th, 136th, 139th, 146th, 166th, and 172nd Tactical Airlift Groups.
- 21 Dec 1944 - Gen. Henry H. Arnold became a five-star General of the Army and the first Airman to hold this rank.
- 21 Dec 1950 - Boeing delivered the first KC-97A Stratofreighter to the Air Force. The company unveiled the first C-97 model converted to a tanker-transport earlier in the month. The KC-97A, a propeller-driven, four-engine aircraft, had a flying boom and four added fuselage tanks with a 14,990-gallon capacity.
- 21 Dec 1959 - Gen. Thomas S. Power accepted the first production-model Hound Dog guided air-to-surface missile at North American Aviation's plant in Downey for the Air Force.
- 21 Dec 1962 - President John F. Kennedy cancelled the AGM-48 Skybolt air-to-surface missile program.
- 21 Dec 1965 - The U.S. Air Force phased out its last two active-duty KC-97s, when one from Pease AFB, N.H., and another from Westover AFB, Mass., flew to the aircraft storage area at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. At one time, the U.S. Air Force had 36 KC-97 squadrons with 780 aircraft.
- 21 Dec 1966 - An Atlas launched the first SV-5D Precision Recovery Including Maneuvering Entry or PRIME, vehicle into space from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. The PRIME vehicle explored possible manned and unmanned lifting body vehicles capable of operating like spacecraft in orbit and maneuvering like aircraft in the atmosphere.
- 21 Dec 1984 - The B-52G reached its initial operating capability with the Harpoon missile.
- 22 Dec 1942 - The 307th Bomb Group sent 26 B-24s on the first full-scale air attack against an enemy base in the Central Pacific. They staged through Midway to bomb Wake Island.
- 22 Dec 1946 - The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics announced the Tiamat's development. This winged rocket missile could fly more than 600 mph. Flown at Langley Field, Va., it was the first guided missile to successfully fly through a predetermined program of maneuvers.
- 22 Dec 1949 - The YF-86D Sabre made its maiden flight at Edwards AFB, Calif.
- 22 Dec 1950 - During the Korean War, one U.S. Navy and five U.S. Air Force pilots shot down six MiG-15s, the highest daily Far East Air Forces aerial victory credits for the month, and the highest since June. A MiG-15 shot down an F-86 for the first time.
- 22 Dec 1962 - A B-52G launched last Skybolt
missile down the Atlantic Missile Range,
however; President Kennedy had cancelled the program a day earlier.
- 22 Dec 1963 - The Air Force Rescue Service used HC-54 aircraft operating from Lajes AB, Azores, lasting through Dec. 24, to drop rafts and blankets to fire victims from the Greek Liner Lakonia. An HC-54 at the scene, 170 miles north of the Madeira Islands, directed the rescue, while vessels below rescued 896 survivors.
- 22 Dec 1965 - Chief of Staff for the Air Force Gen. Thomas D. White, in office from 1957-1961, died.
- 22 Dec 1966 - Vandenberg AFB, Calif. successfully completed its first attempted salvo launch of two Minuteman IB missiles.
- 22 Dec 1969 - The 22nd Air Force phased-out the last active-duty C-124 military airlift squadrons to make way for C-141 operations. To retain heavy airlift capability in Southeast Asia, Pacific Air Forces reassigned four C-124s to the 20th Operations Squadron at Clark AB, Philippines.
- 22 Dec 1973 - Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard approved the Navstar Global Positioning System program.
- 22 Dec 1984 - Eight C-141 Starlifters carried
over 212 tons of food, tents, and water tanks, and medical supplies from Italy to Kassala, Sudan through March 8. This relief effort helped over 100,000 Ethopian refugees fleeing from famine in Niger and Mali in Africa.
- 22 Dec 1986 - The Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile reached its initial operating capability with the 90th Strategic Missile Wing at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo.
· 23 Dec 1950 - During the Korean War, three H-5 helicopter crews with fighter cover rescued 11 U.S. and 24 Korean soldiers from a field eight miles behind enemy lines.
- 23 Dec 1958 - Cape Canaveral, Fla., launched the first Atlas C intercontinental ballistic missile on a 4,300-mile flight down the Atlantic missile range. It used a General Electric Mod III radio-inertial guidance system for the first time.
- 23 Dec 1959 - The Air Force Ballistic Missile Committee approved Malmstrom AFB, Mont., as the first Minuteman I base.
- 23 Dec 1965 - During Operation Blue Light, Military Airlift Command transported the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, from Hawaii to Pleiku, South Vietnam, to offset communist forces in the area. The airlift included 231 C-141 sorties to move 3,000 troops and 4700 tons of equipment lasting through Jan. 23rd. At the time, it was the largest airlift of troops and equipment into a combat zone.
- 23 Dec 1969 - McDonnell Douglas is named prime contractor for the U.S. Air Force's F-15 Eagle air-superiority fighter. With a top speed of 920 mph, the heavily armed fighter will have a ferry range of 3,450 nautical miles.
- 23 Dec 1970 - A Sprint terminal-defense
interceptor missile launched from Kwajalein Atoll intercepted a Minuteman I
reentry vehicle launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
- 23 Dec 1974 - The first flight of a B-1 Lancer aircraft is made from Palmdale, Calif., to Edwards AFB, Calif.
- 23 Dec 1983 - The 390th Electronic Combat squadron attained an initial operating capability with the EF-111A Raven.
- 24 Dec 1943 - Eighth Air Force sent 670 B-17s and B-24s to make the first major assault on German V-weapon sites at Pas de Calais.
- 24 Dec 1944 - Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle led some 2,000 heavy bombers against German airfields. On the way, an engine failed and his unescorted B-17 became a target to enemy fighters. After his bomber sustained serious damage, he ordered the crew to bail out while he remained at the controls. Another enemy attack caused the right wing gas tanks to explode, and the bomber crashed with the general still inside. For this sacrifice, General Castle received the Medal of Honor.
- 24 Dec 1972 - Military Airlift Command aircraft began airlifting relief supplies into Managua, Nicaragua, after an earthquake virtually destroyed the city on Dec. 23rd. In the first two days, C-5 and C-141 aircraft unloaded more than 2,000 pounds of food, water, medical supplies, and emergency heavy equipment.