May 14 in aviation history

By Boeing Dreamscape – Dash80AirToAirFA239925, Public Domain

While new achievements in the industry are celebrated each day, old, significant ones shall not be forgotten, too. The 14th of May is a special day in aviation industry as three historic events took place on this day.

May 14, 1954: Boeing 367-80 prototype rollout

With Boeing’s founder, William Edwards Boeing present, Boeing 367-80 prototype, N70700, was rolled out at the Boeing plant at Renton Field in Washington on the 14th of May 1954.

Also known as Dash 80 (being the 80th major design revision), 367-80 is a quadjet aircraft built to demonstrate its capabilities and advantages to commercial as well as military customers. The project was approved two years before the launch while the actual construction works started 18 months before it.

Dash 80 was used by Boeing an as experimental aircraft testing a number of new technologies and systems. On Janurary 22, 1970, after 2,346 hours and 46 minutes of flight time, Boeing 357-80 retired and was donated to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Dash 80 is considered one of the 12 most significant aircraft of all time.

May 14, 1973: Skylab launch

On 14th of May 1973, America’s first orbital station, Skylab, was launched into orbit by Saturn V. A super heavy-lift launch vehicle, SA-513, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, at 12:30:00 Eastern Standard Time, and caused a legendary event.

Due to the vibrations during the launch, Skylab, unmanned at that time, experienced technical problems. The first of the 3 three-man crews had to repair the orbit and make it habitable again, which became the first ever orbital repair mission.

Skylab’s aim was to show the world that people could live in orbit while also doing necessary work and conducting important research. Finally, Skylab was occupied by astronauts for 171 days and 13 hours performing more than 300 scientific projects.

May 14, 2005: landing on Mount Everest

Test pilot Didier Delsalle landed a Eurocopter AS 350 Ecureuil at the summit of Mount Everest on the 14th of May, 2005. For the landing to be official, The Federation Aeronautique Internationale required the helicopter to stay at the summit for at least 2 minutes. Delsalle, however, sat on the top of the world for 4 minutes to validate the record before returning to Tenzing-Hillary Airport at Lukla, Nepal.

To prove that the landing was a matter of skill, not luck, the French pilot repeated the process the next day, May 15, remaining at the summit of Mount Everest for 4 minutes again.

Delsalle set the world record for highest altitude helicopter landing and became the first and only person to land a helicopter on the highest (8 848-meter) point of Mount Everest.

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