FAA History: 1950’s

Tuesday, January 3, 1950:Pan American Airways changed its name to Pan American World Airways. Nine days later, on January 12, the company completed its round-the-world radio-telephone communications system, which the Civil Aeronautics Administration had approved for air-ground operations. This long-term project for conversion from code to voice involved 19,687 miles of voice radio link and 32 high-frequency ground stations.
Thursday, February 9, 1950:A CAA Program Planning Staff report recommended that Congress establish a government corporation to operate Washington National Airport and any other Federal airport established in the Washington, D.C. area in the future. The recommendation, first put forward a year earlier by the Hoover Commission, died only to be revived more than three decades later. (See January 29, 1971, and October 30, 1986.)
Thursday, March 9, 1950:CAA awarded its largest contract in history for the purchase of 450 distance-measuring equipment (DME) ground stations. The $4,210,750 contract to the Hazeltine Electronics Corporation included spare parts.
Saturday, March 18, 1950:President Truman approved legislation (Public Law 463) authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to acquire, construct, operate, and maintain public airports near national parks and monuments in cooperation with local government agencies and with the assistance of CAA in accordance with the Federal Airport Act (see May 13, 1946).
Wednesday, March 29, 1950:CAA announced that it would close its facilities at Midway Island on May 1 due to the Navy’s decision to withdraw from the island. (See September 1947.)
Saturday, May 6, 1950:To improve communications between CAA and the general aviation community, Administrator Rentzel established an Aviation Development Advisory Committee. The Director of CAA’s Office of Aviation Development served as executive secretary of the Committee, which consisted of 12 qualified private citizens representing manufacturers, users, and others interested in the utilization of aircraft for personal, agricultural, and other non-air-carrier purposes.
Monday, May 15, 1950:A conference between British aviation officials and representatives of CAA and Civil Aeronautics Board opened in Washington to seek agreement on a number of technical problems related to airworthiness and certification requirements. (See February 10, 1953.)
Wednesday, May 24, 1950:Reorganization Plan No. 5 became effective. The plan, one of a number put into effect under the Reorganization Act of 1949, stemmed in part from recommendations of the Hoover Commission (see March 1, 1949). It transferred to the direct control of the Secretary of Commerce all functions of all agencies and officers within his Department except those of CAB and certain similar agencies having rulemaking and adjudicatory powers. The Secretary redelegated to the CAA Administrator those functions affected by the reorganization. (See March 30, 1953.) Reorganization Plan No. 13 also became effective this date, transferring to the Chairman of CAB executive and administrative functions formerly held by the entire Board.
Sunday, June 25, 1950:North Korean forces launched an invasion of South Korea. Two days later, President Truman announced that he had ordered the U.S. Air Force to assist South Korea, beginning U.S. involvement in the war.
Tuesday, July 11, 1950:The air forces of the United States and Canada concluded a two-day conference on which they agreed to the erection of the Pinetree radar network on Canadian soil. Also on July 11, CAA and the U.S. Air Force formed the Air Defense Planning Board to plan for civil participation in air defense.
Tuesday, August 1, 1950:CAA commissioned the Wake Island air route traffic control center.
Thursday, August 3, 1950:Legislation enacted on this date provided criminal sanctions for knowing and willful display of false or misleading marks as to an aircraft’s nationality or registration.
Tuesday, August 8, 1950: To help CAA personnel keep pace with swift advances in aeronautical science, Congress enacted legislation allowing the Secretary of Commerce to detail agency personnel for advanced training at civilian or other institutions or at schools which the Secretary operated.
Tuesday, August 8, 1950: Following field tests, CAA consolidated airport traffic control towers and airway communications stations at 16 smaller airports in the continental United States. The agency subsequently expanded the program, reaching a peak of 84 combined station-towers in 1958. (See November 30, 1981.)
Thursday, September 7, 1950:President Truman approved Public Law 762, which directed the Secretary of Commerce “to construct, protect, operate, improve, and maintain” a second public airport for the Washington, DC, area. The act authorized appropriations not to exceed $14 million (see July 11, 1958), and Congress subsequently authorized $1 million to launch the project. By the end of 1951, 1,046 of the required 4,570 acres had been purchased at Burke, VA. When local opposition to the project developed, Congress refused to appropriate additional funds. Further studies were made in the 1953-1955 period. (See December 1955.)
Saturday, September 9, 1950:Amendments to the Civil Aeronautics Act allowed the Secretary of Commerce and CAB, as directed by the President, to develop and implement a plan for security control of air traffic when U.S. security was endangered, while permitting the maximum flow of air traffic. The Secretary was authorized to establish security zones in the airspace and, in consultation with CAB and the Departments of Defense and State, prohibit or restrict flights which could not be effectively identified, located and controlled with available facilities. (See December 20, 1950.)
Friday, September 15, 1950:CAA and the U.S. Weather Bureau issued a Memorandum of Understanding delineating responsibilities for weather and communications services carried out cooperatively by the two organizations. (See August 2, 1965.)
Monday, September 25, 1950: Overruling the Civil Aeronautics Board, President Truman permitted the merger of American Overseas Airlines into Pan American World Airways. (See October 24, 1945.)
Friday, September 29, 1950:President Truman signed an amendment to the Civil Aeronautics Act authorizing the Secretary of Commerce and the CAA Administrator to delegate to qualified private persons the authority to perform examinations, tests, and inspections and to issue certificates under the Act’s Title VI (Safety Regulations). As the House report covering this legislation noted, the great postwar increase in civil aircraft and pilots had already caused CAA to enlarge its designee program in recent years. Using the provisions of the new legislation, CAA placed new delegation option procedures in effect on November 3, 1951 for small aircraft weighing no more than 5,000 lb. and carrying no more than five persons. Under these procedures, manufacturers of such aircraft could choose to apply for authority to submit information that would serve as the basis for CAA certification. On November 2, 1956, the delegation option procedures were revised to include aircraft and gliders weighing less than 12,500 lb., as well as small aircraft engines and propellers. (See November 25, 1947, and October 8, 1965.)
Saturday, September 30, 1950:The Prototype Aircraft Act (Public Law 867) declared that congressional policy was to promote the development of improved transport aircraft, particularly those that were turbine-powered, especially adapted to economical cargo operations, or suitable for feeder-lines. The act authorized appropriations of up to $12.5 million for a five-year period. The Secretary of Commerce was directed to consult with interested government, labor, and industry groups in carrying out the act, and the Prototype Aircraft Advisory Committee was accordingly established in December.
Wednesday, October 4, 1950:Donald W. Nyrop became Administrator of Civil Aeronautics. He succeeded Delos W. Rentzel (see June 1, 1948), who had submitted his resignation on September 18 to become Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board. Nyrop was Deputy Administrator when nominated to be CAA Administrator, and had previous service in the General Counsel’s office of both CAA and CAB. He received his B.A. degree from Doane College in 1934, and a law degree from George Washington University in 1939. (See May 18, 1951.)
October 15-21, 1950: During this seven-day period, CAA put into operation the first omnirange (VOR) airways (see Calendar Year 1947). Although 271 omniranges had already been commissioned in different parts of the United States, this marked the initial designation of a chain of these ranges as a controlled airway. The new routes, approximately 4,380 miles long, linked such major terminals as Kansas City, Denver, Albuquerque, El Paso, Omaha, and Oklahoma City. (June 1, 1952.) During fiscal year 1951, CAA began enhancing the VOR airways with distance measuring equipment (DME) to assist in low visibility approaches.
October 1950:The U.S. Air Force announced a program to replace all its piston-engine fighter aircraft in Europe with jets.
Wednesday, December 20, 1950:Executive Order No. 10197, prepared and issued this date at the request of the Department of Defense, directed the Secretary of Commerce to exercise security control over aircraft in flight. Subsequent regulations promulgated by the CAA Administrator under delegation from the Secretary of Commerce made mandatory the filing of flight plans for aircraft entering or flying within designated air defense identification zones (ADIZs) over and adjoining the continental United States. A system for voluntary filing of plans for flights within ADIZs had been in effect previously. (See September 9, 1950, and June 1952.)
December 1950:Langley Aeronautical Laboratory made a worldwide analysis of atmospheric turbulence and gusts on the basis of data obtained from NACA-developed recorders carried on commercial airliners on transpacific and South American routes.
Calendar Year 1950:CAA began the installation of mechanical interlock devices in areas with high-density traffic. Developed by CAA, the new push button system eliminated most of the verbal coordination formerly required between the air traffic control center and the airport tower in assigning flight altitudes during IFR conditions.
Sunday, January 21, 1951:CAA created an Office of Aviation Defense Requirements to administer priorities and allocations for civil aviation under the Defense Production Act of 1950. The immediate task of the new office was to handle Defense Order rating authorizations for new air carrier aircraft and for necessary spare parts and equipment to keep U.S. and allied foreign carriers in operation during the Korean emergency.
Wednesday, February 28, 1951:A U.S.-Canadian memorandum of agreement concluded on this date simplified notification procedures for private and non-scheduled aircraft flights from Canada to the United States. The United States negotiated a similar agreement with Mexico in February 1952. Effective May 15, 1953, an expansion of the agreement with Canada made transborder flight notification service available to pilots flying in either direction across the border.
March 1951:Pratt & Whitney began flight tests of its new 10,000-pound thrust J57 jet engine, which eventually powered the B-52, YB-60, F-l00, F-l0l, YF-l05A, KC-135, Boeing 707, F4D, and A3D, as well as the Snark missile.
Saturday, April 21, 1951:The experimental Chase XC-123A, powered by four J47 turbojet engines, made its first flight. Designed as a troop and cargo transport for the Air Force, the XC-123A was fitted with four turbojet engines, installed as pairs in pods.
Friday, May 18, 1951:Charles F. Horne became Administrator of Civil Aeronautics. He succeeded Donald W. Nyrop (see October 4, 1950), who became Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board on this same day. (Nyrop had submitted his resignation from the CAA post on March 18.) Horne, a regular Navy officer, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1926 and received an M.S. degree in communications and electronics from Harvard in 1935. On loan from the Navy, he became Acting Director of CAA’s Airways Division in 1949. From 1950 to 1953, he served as vice chairman of the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics. Horne went on the retired list of the Navy in May 1951 as a Rear Admiral. (See April 27, 1953.)
Thursday, May 31, 1951:Roosevelt Field, on Long Island, NY, closed. The facility had opened 40 years previously and had subsequently been named for Quentin Roosevelt, a son of Theodore Roosevelt killed in World War I. Lindbergh took off from this field in 1927 for his epochal flight to Paris, and other famous aviators who used it included Richard E. Byrd, Clarence Chamberlin, and Amelia Earhart. The 250-acre site eventually became the home of the Roosevelt Shopping Center.
Thursday, June 14, 1951:A new Title XIII of the Civil Aeronautics Act authorized the Secretary of Commerce to provide war risk insurance to U.S. air carriers when such insurance could not be obtained commercially on reasonable terms and conditions. Under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, the war risk insurance program remained with the Secretary of Commerce rather than becoming a function of the new Federal Aviation Agency (FAA). In 1967, the program was transferred from Commerce to the new Secretary of Transportation, who delegated the function to FAA. Under the program, FAA maintained a premium standby insurance plan that would make aviation war risk insurance available at the outbreak of war to civil aircraft engaged in operations deemed in the national interest. The program also included non-premium war risk insurance for aircraft under contract to the Departments of Defense and State or committed to Defense for emergency use. (See July 31, 1970.)
Wednesday, June 27, 1951:CAA demonstrated the Ag-1, the first airplane designed exclusively for agricultural use. The Personal Aircraft Research Center at Texas A. & M. College constructed the plane under CAA contract.
Saturday, June 30, 1951: During fiscal year 1951, which ended on this date, CAA assisted the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) in formulating plans for the use of civil aircraft in civil defense. In cooperation with FCDA and the National Association of State Aviation Officials, CAA distributed a suggested uniform State Plan for Civil Aviation Mobilization and Civil Defense.
Tuesday, July 10, 1951:Negotiations aimed at ending the Korean conflict began. Fighting continued, however, and hostilities were not formally ended until the signing of an armistice in Panmunjom on July 27, 1953.
Thursday, July 26, 1951:The three U.S. armed services agreed to the establishment of Project Lincoln, a study of the air defense program by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (See April 10, 1953.)
Tuesday, September 11, 1951:The National Security Resources Board completed its air transport mobilization survey. Developed by a large group of aviation leaders from government and industry, the program outlined requirements for rapid mobilization of the U.S. air transport industry in the event of expanded war. (See December 15, 1951.)
Wednesday, October 10, 1951:The President approved the Mutual Security Act of 1951 to maintain security and promote foreign policy by furnishing military, economic, and technical assistance to friendly nations in the interest of international peace and security. The plan included a number of aviation assistance programs. The Mutual Security Act of 1952 continued the Mutual Security Agency, established to administer the act, until August 1, 1953, when its functions were transferred to the Foreign Operations Administration. The State Department’s International Cooperation Commission and the Department of Defense assumed FOA’s responsibilities on June 30, 1955.
Monday, November 12, 1951:Pursuant to Executive Order 10219 (February 28), the Department of Commerce established the Defense Air Transportation Administration to plan and direct the mobilization of U.S. civil aviation resources for effective utilization in the event of war.
Monday, December 10, 1951:The Kaman K-225, the world’s first turbine-powered helicopter, made its initial flight. The Kaman Aircraft Corporation had developed the K-225 under contract for the U.S. Navy.
Saturday, December 15, 1951:The Secretaries of Commerce and Defense signed the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Plan. The plan, developed in consultation with the airlines, stipulated that the airlines would provide ninety-one aircraft to the Military Air Transport Service within forty-eight hours of notification. An additional 271 aircraft were to be provided 30 days later. The plan was the result of an executive order issued by President Truman on March 2, 1951, which, in part, authorized the Secretary of Commerce to transfer or assign civil air carriers to the Department of Defense during mobilization.
Calendar Year 1951:CAA placed the first nine DME (distance-measuring equipment) ground transponders in experimental operation along the Chicago-New York airway.
For the first time in U.S. history, air passenger-miles flown (10,679,281,000) exceeded passenger-miles traveled in Pullman cars (10,224,718,000).
CAA heart specialist Dr. J. E. Smith developed the ballistocardiograph, a machine that made the electrocardiograph more effective in detecting heart abnormalities.
Saturday, January 5, 1952:Using Douglas DC-6As, Pan American World Airways inaugurated the first all-cargo air service across the North Atlantic.
Monday, January 7, 1952:CAA inaugurated radar departure control procedures at the Washington air route traffic control center. Use of radar for approach began July 1, 1952.
Sunday, February 3, 1952:CAA put into effect a plan to consolidate aviation safety functions under one chief in each of its seven continental regions and to reorganize the Washington Office of Aviation Safety. Under development for more than a year, the program was intended to achieve better coordination between CAA’s field services and the public and the industry. Designed also to keep pace with rapid changes in technology, the reorganization placed air carrier and general aviation specialists in separate groups.
Wednesday, February 20, 1952:President Truman established a temporary Airport Commission under the chairmanship of James H. Doolittle, with CAA Administrator C. F. Horne and J. C. Hunsaker of NACA as members. The action responded to a series of crashes, due to varied causes, in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. These events had raised residents’ fears and prompted authorities to close Newark Airport temporarily:
  • On December 16, 1951, a Miami Airlines C-46 crashed in Elizabeth, NJ, shortly after takeoff from Newark, killing all 56 people on board.
  • On January 14, 1952, a Northeast Airlines Convair 240 approaching La Guardia Airport crashed into Flushing Bay with no fatalities.
  • On January 22, 1952, an American Airlines Convair 240 crashed in Elizabeth, killing seven people on the ground and all 23 in the airplane.
  • On February 10, 1952, a National Airlines DC-6 crashed in Elizabeth after taking off from Newark, killing four people on the ground and 29 of the 63 persons on the airplane.
  • Truman asked the Commission to restudy the nation’s policy on airport location and use, considering the well-being of people living near airports, as well as national defense requirements and the economic importance of a progressive and efficient aviation industry. The Commission was also instructed to take into account: (1) the Federal, State, and local investment in existing civil and military airports and the factors affecting the utility of airports to adjacent communities; (2) governmental actions to lessen hazards surrounding existing civil and military airports; (3) assignment of newly activated military units to existing airports, with particular regard for potential hazards to the communities involved; (4) site selection for new civil and military airports and the factors affecting relocation of existing airports; (5) joint civil/military use of airports; and (6) legislation and appropriations necessary to carrying out appropriate policy. (See May 16, 1952.)
Wednesday, March 5, 1952:CAA commissioned the Norfolk air route traffic control center.
Tuesday, April 1, 1952:All CAA facilities began using a new phonetic alphabet replacing the familiar “Able-Baker-Charlie.” Recently adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the new alphabet used words with almost the same pronunciation in all languages.
Thursday, May 1, 1952:The first tourist class air service over the North Atlantic began, in accordance with an agreement between eleven International Air Transport Association member airlines that had been announced on December 5 of the previous year.
Friday, May 2, 1952:The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) inaugurated the first scheduled air service with turbojet airliners, de Havilland Comet I’s, operating between London and Johannesburg. (See January 10, 1954.)
Friday, May 16, 1952:The Airport Commission forwarded its report, The Airport and Its Neighbors, to the President. Calling for greater Federal and local support of airport development, the report made 25 specific recommendations for improvements, including integrated municipal and airport planning, effective zoning laws, positive air traffic control, Federal certification of airports, preferential runways and flight patterns, and development of helicopters for civil use.
May 1952:J. B. “Doc” Hartranft, Jr., was named president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) . He had served as general manager of the organization since its founding in 1939, and succeeded the original president, C. Townsend Ludington. With AOPA vice president Max Karant, Hartranft would become a vigorous advocate in behalf of general aviation in the face of growing airspace demands from commercial and military aviation. After Hartranft’s retirement in May 1977, John L. Baker became AOPA president, and was in turn succeeded by Phil Boyer in 1991.
Sunday, June 1, 1952:Forty-five thousand miles of very-high-frequency (omnirange) airways, referred to as “Victor” airways, were put in operation. Like the then existing 70,000 miles of Federally maintained low-frequency airways, the “Victor” routes were 10 statute miles in width. (See October 15-21, 1950 and June 29, 1961.)
Tuesday, June 17, 1952:The Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a recommendation that, pending development of a more suitable form of speech, English should be used as a universal language in aeronautical radiotelephony and should be available for communications involving international air services. This recommended practice, which became applicable on April 1, 1953, was contained in an amendment to Annex 10 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Vol. II, Section 5.2.1.1.2).
June 1952:The U.S. Air Force and the Civil Aeronautics Administration worked out an agreement under which 11 CAA air route traffic control centers would furnish appropriate air defense units with flight movement data on aircraft penetrating or operating within air defense identification zones (ADIZs). This agreement followed tests conducted by experimental aircraft movement identification sections (AMIS) established at the Boston and Seattle ARTCC centers. (See December 20, 1950, and December 1, 1955.)
Tuesday, July 1, 1952:All CAA facilities and services were scheduled to begin using knots and nautical miles on this date, establishing a single military-civilian standard measurement for speed and distance used in air navigation. The change had been announced in the CAA Journal on August 15, 1950.
Tuesday, July 15, 1952:The Secretaries of Defense and Commerce approved a plan for the security control of air traffic (SCAT) during various defense warning conditions. Adopted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in collaboration with representatives of civil aviation groups, the plan aimed at permitting the maximum of civilian and military flying consistent with national defense requirements. (See July 20, 1957.)
July 15-31, 1952:Two USAF Sikorsky H-19 helicopters made the first transatlantic helicopter flight, flying from Westover Field near Boston to Prestwick, Scotland, with stopovers in Maine, Labrador (for 10 days), Greenland, and Iceland. (See May 31-June 1, 1967.)
Sunday, July 20, 1952:Because of a curtailment of operating funds, CAA ceased publication of its CAA Journal. (See January 15, 1940.)
August 1952:CAA established a hemisphere headquarters for technical cooperation in the field of civil aviation in Panama City, Panama. This office acted as a pool of technical talent to assist Latin American countries participating in civil aviation development projects under the Point Four program, and supplemented the work of CAA missions in Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.
Monday, October 20, 1952:Pan American World Airways announced its order for three British jet airliners, de Havilland Comet IIIs, to be delivered in 1956. (See October 13, 1955.)
Saturday, November 1, 1952:The U.S. exploded the first hydrogen bomb on Eniwetok Island. On August 20, 1953, the U.S.S.R. announced it had tested an H-bomb “within the last few days.”
Thursday, December 4, 1952:CAA Administrator C. F. Horne established a Turbine-Powered Transportation Evaluation Team to: (1) assure uniformity in the handling of turbine-powered transport certification projects between regions and for all manufacturers, (2) make its members unquestioned authorities in this field by intensively supplementing their past specialized training, and (3) make the team a central source of information on turbine-powered transport developments through maintaining contact with manufacturers, the military, experimental laboratories, foreign governments, and other appropriate bodies. After studies and discussions with more than 400 specialists in government and industry, the team completed a comprehensive report at the end of the following year.
Calendar Year 1952:CAA began its program of decommissioning the low and medium frequency four-course radio ranges, and replacing them with the very high frequency omnidirectional ranges. (See June 30, 1928, and September 5, 1974.)
Tuesday, January 20, 1953:Dwight D. Eisenhower became President, succeeding Harry S Truman.
Tuesday, January 20, 1953:A specially recruited team of Italian-speaking CAA air traffic control experts left for Italy to assist that country in improving the operation of its airways.
Tuesday, February 10, 1953:CAA and British aircraft experts concluded extensive discussions of technical problems relating to airworthiness certification of turbine-powered transports. The meetings, termed “exploratory,” sought eventual agreement on standards for U.S. certification of the airworthiness of jet transports, such as the British Comet. (See May 15, 1950.)
February 1953:The American Medical Association authorized the American Board of Preventive Medicine to establish aviation medicine as a distinct specialty and to grant certification for those physicians properly qualified.
Monday, March 30, 1953:The Commerce Department’s Office of Transportation was abolished and its function thereafter focused directly in the Office of the Under Secretary for Transportation. (See May 24, 1950.)
Friday, April 10, 1953:The U.S. Air Force decided to proceed with the production of SAGE (Semiautomatic Ground Environment), an electronic defense system developed by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. (See July 10, 1956.)
Saturday, April 18, 1953:The first turboprop airliner, the Vickers V-701 Viscount, entered scheduled passenger service with British European Airways. On July 26, 1955, Capital Airlines introduced the British-made plane on its Washington-Chicago route. The Viscount was the first turboprop-powered aircraft to be used in U.S. scheduled service.
Monday, April 27, 1953:Frederick B. Lee was sworn in as CAA Administrator. He succeeded Charles F. Horne (see May 18, 1951), who resigned on March 6, 1953, because of the change in administration following President Eisenhower’s election. Lee received his A.B. degree from Stanford in 1928 and a law degree from Harvard in 1931. A naval aviator in World War II, he rose to the rank of commander, authored a manual for naval flight instructors, and supervised training in night fighters and torpedo units. He joined CAA in 1946 as Program Planning Officer, was made executive assistant to the Administrator in January 1947, and became Deputy Administrator the same year. He was still Deputy Administrator when nominated on March 11, 1953, to be Administrator. (See December 8, 1955.)
Monday, June 1, 1953:Under the provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1949, President Eisenhower submitted Reorganization Plan No. 10 to the Congress. The plan provided for the separate payment of airline subsidies and fees by the Post Office Department for transportation of mail; such subsidies and fees had previously been paid as a lump sum by the Post Office. The plan went into effect October 1, 1953.
Wednesday, July 1, 1953:CAA moved its medical research function to the Civil Aeromedical Research Laboratory (CAMRL), established on the campus of the Ohio State University School of Medicine. On June 30, 1958, CAMRL moved back to the Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, by order of CAA Administrator James T. Pyle.
Thursday, July 9, 1953:New York Airways became the first scheduled passenger helicopter air carrier to operate in the United States. (See October 1, 1947.)
August 1953:The first operational installation of a transmissometer, an electronic device for measuring visibility, was completed at Washington National Airport. The transmissometer was developed by the National Bureau of Standards, purchased and installed by the Weather Bureau, and used by CAA control tower operators to provide pilots with accurate information on visibility changes.
Tuesday, September 1, 1953:The Belgian airline Sabena opened the first international helicopter services, from Brussels to Rotterdam, Lille, and Maastricht.
Thursday, October 1, 1953:CAA made extensive changes in its field organization, reducing the continental regions, excluding Alaska, from seven to four . . . . During the following year, the agency revamped its Washington headquarters organization. (See August 17, 1954.)
Calendar Year 1953:A study made of changes in the air carrier fleet between June 1950 and June 1953 indicated that while the number of aircraft had increased by 17 percent, the available lift capacity had increased by 42 percent, representing an annual gain of a billion ton-miles.
Friday, January 1, 1954: Effective this date the Civil Aeronautics Board delegated to the Civil Aeronautics Administration responsibility for the investigation of accidents involving small airplanes. The Board retained its responsibility for investigating accidents involving fixed-wing aircraft of over 12,500 pounds, aircraft used in Alaskan air carrier operations, and helicopters or non-fixed-wing aircraft.
Sunday, January 10, 1954:A British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) de Havilland Comet I jetliner fell into the Mediterranean Sea with the loss of all 35 on board. BOAC temporarily suspended Comet operations after the accident, but resumed them on March 23. On April 8, a second Comet I crashed into the Mediterranean, killing all 21 occupants. Comet services were discontinued again when the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation withdrew the jet transport’s airworthiness certificate. On February 11, 1955, a Court of Inquiry into the two accidents announced that testing had revealed that the aircraft’s fuselage shell was prematurely vulnerable to metal fatigue. De Havilland engineers subsequently corrected the deficiencies, but the setback helped American manufacturers to overtake the British in the commercial jetliner race. (See May 2, 1952, and December 20, 1957.)
January 1954:The Air Navigation Development Board (ANDB) was reconstituted with members from higher levels of Government (see May 23, 1948). The revised Board, chaired by Donald A. Quarles, Assistant Secretary of Defense (R. & D.), included: an Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (R. & D.); and a Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army (see October 29, 1957). During its first meeting, the ANDB established a committee to study the military tactical air navigation system (TACAN) and the civilian very high frequency omnidirectional range/distance measuring equipment (VOR/DME) to determine which system offered the most benefits for the development of a common system of air navigation (see January 14, 1955). The committee consisted of representatives from all the military agencies, the Departments of Commerce and Defense, the National Business Aircraft Association, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and was chaired by Milton W. Arnold of the Air Transport Association.
Thursday, February 25, 1954:The delegates to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conference in Paris signed a new agreement on the maintenance of North Atlantic weather stations. After July 1, 1954, the number of weather stations would be reduced from 10 to 9 and weather ships from 25 to 21.
March 1954:A team of CAA experts arrived in Formosa (Taiwan) to assist the Nationalist Chinese Government in developing omnirange air routes and in training Chinese personnel to operate and maintain the airways system. Although other CAA missions already operated under Foreign Operations Administration auspices in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, Honduras, Italy, Panama, and Turkey, this was the first CAA group to be assigned to the Far East under the FOA’s Technical Cooperation Program.
Saturday, May 1, 1954:The Air Coordinating Committee submitted its study on Civil Air Policy in response to a Presidential request of September 23, 1953, for a comprehensive review of U.S. policies in the primary areas of aviation interest in consultation with appropriate industry, local government, and private aviation groups. The committee’s report covered a variety of topics and recommended the development of a single national common civil-military system of air navigation and air traffic control. On May 26, 1954, the President approved the report “as a guide in the future consideration of questions related to the subject of civil aviation and in making appropriate recommendations to Congress.”
Wednesday, June 30, 1954: During fiscal year 1954, which ended on this date, the Eisenhower Administration’s retrenchment cut CAA’s budget to $115.9 million, $20 million less than the agency received in fiscal 1953 and the lowest amount since 1949. The reduction was achieved by eliminating 1,500 positions, discontinuing control tower operations at airports with light commercial traffic, decommissioning nonessential communications stations, and curtailing services to private fliers. Congress appropriated no new funds for the Federal-aid airport program during fiscal 1954, but work proceeded on projects already funded. CAA reviewed and revised its policies toward future grants, concluding that they should concentrate on airports important from an overall national aviation standpoint. Federal funds should be used primarily for improvements contributing directly to safety and efficiency of aviation operations and to national defense, and improvements to airport terminal buildings should be excluded. An appropriation of $22 million reactivated the program for fiscal 1955. (See January 9, 1947, and August 3, 1955.)
July 1954:CAA launched an Aviation Incentive Movement (AIM) designed to stimulate interest in aeronautics among pre-college students. Prompted by CAA’s concern over the shortage of engineers and other trained aeronautics personnel, AIM proposed to equip grade schools with aviation displays, conduct a series of nationwide clinics and competitions in the building and flying of model airplanes, and award flight or technical-training scholarships. Budgetary restraints limited the program to a modest effort. (See September 30, 1964.)
Monday, July 12, 1954:CAA and the Air Force announced the completion of plans for CAA to operate radar approach control centers (RAPCONs) at 18 military bases, to serve both civil and military traffic. The first joint RAPCON had been commissioned at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, on April 4, 1954.
Monday, August 2, 1954:The Convair XFY-1, an experimental VTOL aircraft, made the first free vertical takeoff and landing by a fixed wing aircraft at Moffett NAS, CA.
Friday, August 6, 1954:CAB announced the signing of an agreement with Norway, Sweden, and Denmark for the operation of an air route by U.S. and Scandinavian airlines between Los Angeles and Scandinavia via Greenland.
Tuesday, August 17, 1954:Administrator Frederick B. Lee placed in effect a reorganization of CAA (see June 2, 1949). He established a position of Assistant Administrator for Operations in the Office of the Administrator to exercise direct supervision over the Office of Airports, Office of Federal Airways, Office of Aviation Safety, and the Washington National Airport. The administrative staff offices were placed under an Assistant Administrator for Administration, also responsible for supervising the Aeronautical Center. An Assistant Administrator for Program Coordination (later redesignated Assistant Administrator for Planning, Research, and Development) supervised the Technical Development and Evaluation Center. The line of authority was officially defined as running through the program directors to the regional administrators. Effective January 1, 1955, Lee gave the program directors authority to take individual personnel actions involving professional or technical employees in any grade level at headquarters or in the field. (See September 4, 1956.)
Wednesday, September 1, 1954:CAA commissioned the Indianapolis air route traffic control center.
December 1954:CAA and the Air Force launched a program to accelerate the certification of Air Force air traffic controllers and promote greater standardization of air traffic control techniques for both civil and military operations. Under the plan, CAA delegated for one year to each group commander of the USAF Airways and Air Communications Service authority to administer CAA written examinations for control tower operators.
Friday, January 14, 1955:The VORTAC Committee of the Air Navigation Development Board (ANDB) reported its inability to reach a unanimous decision to resolve the TACAN/VOR-DME controversy (see January 1954). Despite the split report of its committee, the ANDB favored development of TACAN. On February 8, however, the ANDB issued a press release stating that TACAN was under consideration to replace VOR-DME, the civil system in operation. This was the first public announcement of the TACAN/VOR-DME controversy, and it sparked a series of hearings in public and executive session by the Transportation and Communications Subcommittee of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. (See August 30, 1956.)
Monday, March 14, 1955:The first type-certification board meeting to be held in connection with the certification of a foreign-built aircraft under U.S. regulations met in Washington. Representatives of the Royal Netherlands Aircraft Factories, having applied for a U.S. type certificate on its Fokker F-27, met with the CAA engineering staff for preliminary discussions. Previous certification negotiations, such as those involving the British-built Viscount, had focused on U.S. acceptance of certification by the country of manufacture.
Tuesday, March 15, 1955:CAA commissioned the first of 15 very high frequency omnidirectional radio ranges (VORs) planned for Southeast and South Asia at Manila International Airport. Additional VORs programmed by CAA along routes followed by U.S.-flag carriers included 3 ranges for Formosa, 1 in Bangkok, and 10 for India.
Tuesday, May 3, 1955:Preliminary plans were announced for sending CAA specialists to assist Pakistan in developing its airways system under an agreement between Pakistan and the U.S. Foreign Operations Administration.
Wednesday, May 4, 1955:President Eisenhower, acting through the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, requested William Barclay Harding to serve as a consultant to study long-range needs for aviation facilities and aids. On December 31, 1955, Harding’s Aviation Facilities Study Group submitted its report to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget. Concluding that the need to improve air traffic management had already reached critical proportions, the group recommended that an individual of national reputation, responsible directly to the President, be appointed to provide full time leadership in developing a program for solving the complex technical and organizational problems facing the government and the aviation industry. On February 10, 1956, following approval of the Harding Committee recommendations, President Eisenhower named Edward P. Curtis his Special Assistant for Aviation Facilities Planning. Curtis was to direct and coordinate “a long-range study of the Nation’s [aviation facility] requirements,” to develop “a comprehensive plan for meeting in the most effective and economical manner the needs disclosed by the study,” and “to formulate legislative, organizational, administrative and budgetary recommendations to implement the comprehensive plan.” (See April 11, 1957.)
Thursday, May 5, 1955:An agreement between the United States and Canada provided for the construction and operation of a new distant early warning (DEW) radar defense line in northern Canada.
Wednesday, August 3, 1955:President Eisenhower signed Public Law 211, making major changes in the Federal-aid airport program and removing the 1958 time limit prescribed by the original act, as amended in 1950. The changes established a four-year program which placed the total funding for fiscal 1956 at $62.5 million and provided $63 million for each of the fiscal years 1957-59. The law also made all types and sizes of airports eligible for aid, included development of airport buildings as eligible items, and provided that funds apportioned yearly to States under an area population formula would remain available for two years. (See June 30, 1954, October 18, 1955, and and January 21, 1959.)
Thursday, October 13, 1955:The aviation industry learned that Pan American World Airways had placed the first order for jet airliners to be produced in the United States, ordering both the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. (See October 20, 1952.)
Tuesday, October 18, 1955:CAA announced new policies regarding airport grants in a booklet entitled “Federal-Aid Airport Program Policies and Procedures.” Airports were to be considered eligible for matching Federal funds on the basis of the actual or potential aeronautical need of the community rather than, as previously, according to a level of activity equivalent to 3,000 annually enplaned passengers or 30 based aircraft. Airport terminal buildings, and any other buildings (except hangars) that were necessary to serve the public, were eligible for Federal aid. Federal funds could also be used to share the cost of automobile parking areas required for users of the airport. (See August 3, 1955, and January 21, 1959.)
Monday, October 24, 1955:United Airlines’ flight engineers went on strike, due to the carrier’s decision to require all future flight engineers to possess a pilot’s certificate. After 51 days, the strike was broken when pilots belonging to the Air Line Pilots Association crossed the picket lines of the flight engineers union to occupy the seats vacated by the strikers. (See June 15, 1947 and November 8-14, 1956.)
Sunday, October 30, 1955:The first commercial flights began at the new O’Hare Field, Chicago International Airport, which had been under construction since 1949. The facility was named for Lt. Commander Edward H. O’Hare, who won the Medal of Honor as a naval aviator in World War II. Subsequent years saw major improvements at the site, and the expanded Chicago-O’Hare International Airport was dedicated on March 23, 1963.
Tuesday, November 1, 1955:A bomb destroyed a United Air Lines Douglas DC-6B airliner after it took off from Denver, CO, killing all 44 people on board. The Federal Bureau of Investigation later arrested J. G. Graham, who had taken out a large life insurance policy on his mother, a passenger on the ill-fated aircraft. Graham was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death.
Tuesday, November 15, 1955:The Civil Aeronautics Board gave the new name of supplemental air carriers to those charter operators previously designated large irregular carriers (see September 15, 1946). At the same time, the Board granted an interim exemption allowing the supplementals to offer, in addition to charter flights, a limited number of flights for which tickets or freight services were sold individually. The Board granted this interim exemption pending determination as to which operators would ultimately receive this operating authority. (See January 29, 1959.)
Thursday, December 1, 1955:Major changes in the structure of the U.S. air defense identification zones (ADIZs) became effective, superseding substantial changes already established on January 15, 1953. Increased military capability made it possible to revise the structure in such a way as to exempt a substantial volume of flying from ADIZ requirements. Rules governing the security of air traffic were eased further on January 1, 1957. (See June 1952 and April 1, 1959.)
Thursday, December 8, 1955:CAA Administrator Frederick Lee resigned after months of widening personal and policy differences with the Secretary and Under Secretary of Commerce (see spring 1956). The President accepted his resignation two days later. On December 12, 1955, Charles J. Lowen took the oath as Lee’s successor. With Congress not in session, President Eisenhower had given Lowen an interim appointment on December 9. A 1938 graduate of the University of Colorado, Lowen had worked in aviation sales and service until 1942, then served during World War II with the Air Transport Command. His experience after the war included three years as an executive with Capital Airlines and a period as Director of Aviation for Denver, as well as positions unrelated to aviation. He joined CAA as a consultant in May 1955 and became Deputy Administrator in July. Lowen underwent surgery for cancer in May 1956, shortly before the Senate confirmed him as Administrator on June 6, and he died on September 5 of that same year. (See February 11, 1957.)
Tuesday, December 20, 1955:The Douglas DC-7C first flew. On May 15, 1956, CAA type-certificated the four engine, propeller-driven aircraft. Dubbed the “Seven Seas,” the transport was able to fly nonstop between the United States and many European cities and had a maximum capacity of 99 passengers. The plane entered scheduled airline service with Pan American World Airways on June 1, 1956.
Wednesday, December 21, 1955:CAA and the Air Force announced an agreement under which CAA would for the first time use USAF Air Defense Command radar for civil air traffic control. Under the arrangement, CAA used information from the Air Defense Command radar at the Olathe, KS, Naval Air Station to maintain approach control at nearby airports. CAA commissioned the facility for this use on January 15, 1957.
December 1955:Following Senate hearings in July on a second public airport for Washington, CAA reiterated its earlier position that the Maryland site occupied by Andrews Air Force Base would be the best location, but again recommended Burke, VA, as the next best alternative. A request for $34.7 million to complete the Burke project was turned down when strong opposition to that site continued at Senate hearings in July 1956. (See September 7, 1950, & August 1957.)
December 1955:The Civil Aeronautics Administration released its first five-year plan (1957-1961) for the expansion and modernization of the Federal airways system.
Calendar Year 1955:Bendix Aviation Corporation began manufacturing a transistorized automatic pilot for commercial and military sales. Prototype testing of the equipment had occurred the previous year on a B-25 flying laboratory. Automatic pilots had been installed previously in aircraft as accessory equipment, but the Bendix equipment was the first completely transistorized automatic flight control system designed for high performance aircraft.
For the first time on record, water sprayed from an airplane put out a forest fire. The plane completely suppressed a blaze covering 50 acres on a steep slope near Wenatchee, WA.
Wednesday, January 11, 1956:Civil Aeronautics Administration officials convoked the first CAA jet age symposium as an initial step toward planning for the introduction of jets in civil operations. On April 20, CAA established a Jet Age Planning Group to work with industry and Government on potential civil jet transport problems.
Monday, February 20, 1956:CAA and the Air Force announced a joint study under Air Navigation Development Board auspices to evaluate the use of Air Defense Command (ADC) radar for civil air traffic control purposes. The evaluation included use of a microwave link to remote radar information between an ADC installation at Rockville, IN, and the CAA ARTCC at Indianapolis, a distance of some 50 miles. This was the first use of a microwave link to transfer radar information between distant points for air traffic control. (See November 16, 1956.)
Thursday, February 23, 1956: The Civil Aeronautics Board, noting the increasing frequency of near-collisions in the air and wishing to gain more information about such incidents, adopted Special Civil Air Regulation No. SR-416, which granted immunity from disciplinary proceedings to pilots reporting near misses. The identity of the pilot or other person making the report would be held in confidence by the Board. In cases where information about a violation of Civil Air Regulations was obtained by other means, however, the fact that the violation was voluntarily reported would not preclude enforcement, disciplinary, or remedial proceedings on the basis of such other information. In an attempt to gather information on near misses, some airlines had previously started their own anonymous reporting programs, but that effort had failed because pilots feared possible Federal disciplinary action. The CAB grant of immunity was intended to overcome this problem. (See July 10, 1959.)
Spring 1956:The Senate Aviation Subcommittee, chaired by A. S. “Mike” Monroney (D-OK), held hearings relating to the resignation under fire of CAA Administrator Frederick Lee (see December 8, 1955) and to the larger allegation of the neglect of CAA by the Department of Commerce.
Saturday, March 31, 1956:The Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) was established as a nonprofit professional organization to promote the advancement of air traffic control. Originally composed only of controllers, ATCA broadened its membership to include governmental agencies, private companies, and other individuals and organizations worldwide.
Sunday, May 27, 1956:The Sud-Aviation SE 210 Caravelle made its first flight. The first short-haul jet plane to go into general use, the Caravelle’s rear-mounted engine configuration set a design trend for jet transports.
Monday, June 25, 1956: Its interest kindled by the Harding Report (see May 4, 1955), the Legal and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, chaired by Rep. Robert H. Mollohan (D-WV), began extensive hearings on the Federal role in aviation. The hearings centered on: the adequacy of the Federal-aid airport program; problems in air traffic control and air navigational aids, with particular reference to the TACAN/VOR-DME controversy (see August 30, 1956); the effect of introducing commercial jets; the organization for aviation matters within the executive branch; the operational efficiency of CAA, including the effectiveness of its five-year program; and the problem of joint military and civil use of airports.
Saturday, June 30, 1956:A Trans World Airlines Super Constellation and a United Air Lines DC-7 collided over the Grand Canyon, AZ, killing all 128 occupants of the two airplanes. The collision occurred while the transports were flying under visual flight rules (VFR) in uncongested airspace. The accident dramatizing the fact that, even though U.S. air traffic had more than doubled since the end of World War II, little had been done to expand the capacity of the air traffic control system or to increase safeguards against midair collisions. Sixty-five such collisions had occurred in the United States between 1950 and 1955. This was partly because the ATC system did not have the ability to segregate VFR traffic from instrument flight rules (IFR) traffic, or slow-moving flights from faster ones. Many experts recognized a need to institute positive control — requiring instrument flight over certain portions of the airspace irrespective of weather conditions. In the wake of the tragedy, Congress opened hearings to probe its relationship to the general problems of airspace and air traffic control management. (See April 11, 1957.)
June 1956:The first radar in a CAA program to “circular polarize” airport surveillance was completed at La Guardia Airport. The modification program would permit the radar to “see” aircraft passing through rain and snow. With the unmodified equipment, aircraft operating in storm areas often failed to show on the scope.
Tuesday, July 10, 1956:CAA announced the establishment in the Boston area of a Military Integration Branch of the Technical Development Center. The new office was created to provide closer coordination with military development programs, such as the SAGE Air Defense System, at Lexington and Deer Island, Mass. (See April 10, 1953, and September 21, 1959.)
Tuesday, July 24, 1956:CAA placed the Central Altitude Reservation Facility (CARF) in operation at Kansas City to handle all requests for temporary altitude reservations for military aircraft. Creation of this new facility marked a significant advance in controlling airspace at higher altitudes.
Wednesday, August 1, 1956:The President signed into law a bill permitting the Armed Forces to include flight instruction in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs.
Thursday, August 30, 1956:The Air Coordinating Committee approved a study panel’s recommendation that VOR and TACAN, the separate civil and military air navigation systems, be combined. VORTAC (an acronym used to describe a short-range navigation system, using the VOR directional component and the distance component of TACAN) would become a key element of the civil-military common system of air navigation and air traffic control. (See January 14, 1955, and September 16, 1985.)
Tuesday, September 4, 1956:CAA announced a reorganization designed to streamline the Administrator’s office and place greater reliance on a direct line of command as the basic core of CAA organization. The reorganization abolished the Assistant Administrator positions for Operations and for Planning, Research, and Development, and grouped most CAA functions under six major program offices. The Office of Air Navigation Facilities and the Office of Air Traffic Control were created from the former Office of Federal Airways, a change that had been previously announced. (One reason for creating a separate ATC Office, according to Administrator Lowen, was “to reverse completely the approach of having the operations of the air traffic control system governed by the kind of tools the engineers give the operators.” Lowen believed that the men who operate the system should develop broad performance specifications for the equipment they need and then the engineers should devise and perfect such equipment.) The Office of International Cooperation was established to replace the International Region, and the Office of Aviation Safety was redesignated the Office of Flight Operations and Airworthiness. The two other two major program offices were the Office of Airports and the Technical Development Center. In addition, the Office of Aviation Information was abolished and its duties were divided between the Office of General Services and a Press and Publications Officer reporting to the Deputy Administrator. The reorganization extended to the regional offices, where counterparts to Washington program offices were to be established wherever there was a clear cut program that required field execution.
Thursday, September 27, 1956:CAA announced the formation of a team of aviation specialists to provide technical assistance and guidance to Afghanistan in developing a national airways system. Under the sponsorship of the International Cooperation Administration, the modernization program called for loans and expenditures totaling $14,560,000 to expand Afghanistan’s air transportation facilities.
Saturday, October 6, 1956:Upgrading its fleet of flight inspection aircraft, CAA announced that it would obtain five Convair 440s, with delivery in December 1957 and January 1958. To calibrate and evaluate the performance of airway navigation aids, the agency had previously used DC-3s and Beech 18s, which had an operating ceiling of only 12,000 feet. The pressurized Convairs (later re-engined to the Convair 580 configuration) permitted testing in altitudes up to 20,000 feet. For higher altitudes up to 50,000 feet, the agency had already borrowed two Martin B-57s from the Air Force, and began operations with these in 1957. During 1956-57, CAA also obtained 40 more surplus DC-3s, most of which were eventually modified for flight inspection duty Other changes to the flight inspection fleet in this era included the acquisition in 1958 of the first two of five Lockheed L-749 Constellations, which were used primarily in the Pacific area. (See Calendar Year 1940 and January 1962.)
October 1956:CAA leased a computer (IBM type 650) for installation in the Indianapolis ARTCC to assess the value of computers for the preparation of flight progress strips and to familiarize its personnel with this type of equipment.
November 8-14, 1956:At its annual convention, the Air Line Pilots Association changed its policy to allow mechanic-trained flight engineers eligible for membership. The union also adopted as mandatory policy a resolution declaring that no turboprop or turbojet aircraft be operated unless “manned at all flight stations by a qualified pilot.” (See October 24, 1955 and July 21, 1958.)
Friday, November 16, 1956:CAA and the USAF Air Defense Command agreed on ground rules to guide a permanent Joint Radar Planning Group charged with developing programs for the joint use of civil and military radar in air traffic control. The agreement followed extensive study by the two agencies, including joint surveys and tests of operating radar facilities and operational evaluation programs conducted at CAA’s Technical Development Center at Indianapolis. (See February 20, 1956, and January 9, 1958.)
Tuesday, November 20, 1956:CAA announced that it had awarded a $9 million contract for 23 long-range radars, the agency’s largest single purchase of electronic equipment to that date. The new radars were to be used primarily for en route air traffic control purposes.
Thursday, December 13, 1956:In Allegheny Airlines, Inc., v. Village of Cedarhurst, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a lower court judgment that permanently voided a Cedarhurst ordinance prohibiting flights over the village at an altitude under 1,000 feet. Cedarhurst, situated near New York International Airport (Idlewild), argued that the flights over the village constituted a “taking,” as set forth by the Supreme Court in the Causby case (see May 27, 1946). In declaring the ordinance invalid, the Appeals Court said that airplanes using Idlewild did not impact on Cedarhurst to such a degree as to constitute a “‘taking” within the doctrine of the Causby case.” The court further held that Congress had preempted the regulation of air traffic and that any local regulations contrary to Federal rules were precluded. As a consequence of the Federal government’s intervention in the case — along with 10 airlines, the Port of New York authority, and other groups — the Chairman of CAB with the concurrence of the CAA Administrator took action to repudiate a previous recognition of State authority to adopt and enforce their own safety regulations. (See March 1946.) On March 10, 1964, with the Federal courts having consistently struck down locally imposed altitude restrictions, the Town of Hempstead, N.Y.– a community near the same airport, now named John F. Kennedy International — tried a new tack: it enacted a noise ordinance that prohibited the operation of any mechanism (including aircraft) that created noise in excess of a specified level of perceived noise decibels. Though the ordinance prescribed no flight patterns, on July 17, 1968, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found in American Airlines v. Hempstead that adhering to the ordinance would have forced aircraft to deviate from existing traffic patterns and FAA procedures. The court concluded, therefore, that the Hempstead ordinance was invalid because it (l) operated in an area preempted by Federal legislation and regulation, (2) posed an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce, and (3) was in direct conflict with valid Federal regulations. (See May 14, 1973.)
Calendar Year 1956:The Cessna Aircraft Company introduced its Model 172, a four-seat general aviation aircraft. During the next 30 years, sales of all versions of the 172s built in the United States totaled an estimated 37,000.
Monday, February 11, 1957:The Senate confirmed James T. Pyle as Administrator of Civil Aeronautics. He succeeded Charles J. Lowen, who died September 5, 1956 (see entry for December 8, 1955). Pyle had been Deputy Administrator under Lowen. He was nominated as Lowen’s successor on December 20, 1956, and took the oath of office on an interim appointment on December 26, 1956. Pyle studied business law and accounting at Princeton and Columbia Universities, aircraft mechanics at the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics, and meteorology and transportation at the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aeronautics, New York University. From 1935 to 1944 he had worked for Pan American Airways, and during World War II he had served in the Pacific with the Naval Air Transport Service. He returned briefly to Pan American after the war, then became president of the Air Charter Company in Denver, CO, and later president of the Denver Air Terminal Corporation. In 1953, he became a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, and in 1956 he joined CAA as Deputy Administrator. (See December 31, 1958.)
Wednesday, February 13, 1957:CAA held ground-breaking ceremonies for construction of an expanded Aeronautical Center at Oklahoma City. Financed by the city with a $10,665,000 bond issue, the new buildings replaced temporary construction, mostly World War II metal barracks. CAA ultimately concentrated the shop and warehousing activities of the four continental regions and many of its new training programs at the enlarged facility. (See March 15, 1946.)
February 1957:CAA began installation of the first “narrow band” radio receivers under a program designed to double the number of civil communications channels available for air traffic control use. The new receivers made it possible to space transmissions 100 rather than 200 kilocycles from the adjacent channel.
Thursday, April 11, 1957:President Eisenhower transmitted to Congress an interim report by Edward P. Curtis, Special Assistant for Aviation Facilities Planning (see May 4, 1955). The report proposed the establishment of an Airways Modernization Board as a temporary organization to unite scattered responsibilities for system development and selection. Eisenhower stated that his Administration would submit legislation for the establishment of such a board and urged its early enactment. On May 10, 1957, Curtis submitted to the President his final report on aviation facilities planning. The report warned of “a crisis in the making” as a result of the inability of the airspace management system to cope with growing congestion and complex patterns of civil and military traffic. Curtis recommended the establishment of an independent Federal Aviation Agency “into which are consolidated all the essential management functions necessary to support the common needs of the military and civil aviation of the United States.” Until such a permanent organization could be created, the Airways Modernization Board would function as an independent agency responsible for developing and consolidating the requirements for future systems of communications, navigation, and air traffic control. (See July 17, 1957.) Curtis’s specific recommendations for improving air traffic including setting aside all airspace above a designated altitude for controlled separation at all times, and dividing certain airspace below this zone into “funnels” and “cylinders” reserved for Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) traffic.
Monday, April 22, 1957:CAA commissioned the Spokane air route traffic control center.
May 1957:Using CAA and USAF aircraft, CAA conducted a service test of VOL-SCAN (a computer for automatic scheduling of aircraft approaching for landing) to evaluate the possible application of such military tactical equipment to air traffic control use in the common system.
Thursday, June 20, 1957:CAA made public a plan for the security control of air traffic and electromagnetic radiations (SCATER) during an air defense emergency. The joint product of CAA, CAB, the Air Force, and the Navy, it was based on a plan that had been approved in 1952, expanded to include air traffic security control rules. (See July 15, 1952.)
Sunday, June 30, 1957: For fiscal 1957, which ended on this date, CAA received increased funding after several years of declining or stable budgets. The agency’s airway facility funds grew from $16 million in FY 1956 to $75 million in 1957, raising the overall CAA budget for 1957 to $278.4 million. Further major increases in facilities and equipment funds the next two years brought the total CAA budget to $565 million, reflecting heightened urgency concerning air traffic control problems.
Saturday, July 6, 1957:CAA announced that high speed teletypewriters able to transmit 100-word-per-minute would be installed along its three aeronautical weather networks. The new equipment was to replace 75-word-per-minute teletypewriters used for services designated “A,” “C,” and “O.” These three functions made up the basic weather distribution systems for the entire country’s military and civil aviation. On October 17, 1958, CAA announced the award of a contract for 600-word-per-minute teletypewriters and related equipment to further speed the dissemination of aeronautical weather information. (See January 16, 1961.)
Wednesday, July 17, 1957:President Eisenhower appointed Elwood R. Quesada as his Special Assistant for aviation matters and charged him with “taking the leadership in securing the implementation of the Curtis plan of action.” (See April 11, 1957.)
Thursday, July 25, 1957:Dynamite exploded in the lavatory of a Western Airlines Convair 240 flying at 7,500 feet over California, blowing the person who had detonated the charge through the side of the aircraft. The plane landed successfully without further casualties.
Thursday, August 1, 1957:The United States and Canada informally established the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). The two countries ratified a formal agreement the following May. The organization was renamed the North American Aerospace Defense Command on May 12, 1981.
Monday, August 5, 1957:The Civil Aeronautics Board adopted a rule requiring an approved Flight Data Recorder (FDR) aboard air carrier and commercial airplanes of more than 12,500 pounds maximum certificated takeoff weight, with compliance by July 15, 1958. The FDRs were to be capable of recording time, air speed, altitude, vertical acceleration, and heading. In adopting the rule, CAB stated that FDRs would be invaluable in investigating accidents and such incidents as extreme vertical accelerations. (At first, the rule applied only to aircraft certificated for operations above 25,000 feet, but this limitation was dropped in an amendment issued on July 12, 1960.) On two previous occasions, CAB had rescinded a similar rule. Effective April 1, 1941, CAB had required a simpler type of FDR on certain carriers; but on June 9, 1944, the board found that operators could not properly maintain their recorders because of wartime material shortages. On September 15, 1947, the board again adopted a rule requiring FDRs on aircraft in scheduled air transportation. Contrary to expectations, however, no recording device of proven reliability was readily available, and CAB rescinded the rule on June 30, 1948, one day before its effective date. (See August 12, 1970.)
Wednesday, August 14, 1957:President Eisenhower signed the Airways Modernization Act (Public Law 85-133). The act established the Airways Modernization Board charged with “the development and modernization of the national system of navigation and traffic control facilities to serve present and future needs of civil and military aviation.” The AMB was to select such systems, procedures, and devices as would promote maximum coordination of air traffic control and air defense systems. The act provided for a three-member board consisting of a chairman, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Commerce. The act further provided for its own expiration on June 30, 1960. Since the AMB was an interim organization, the act also contained the following provision: “It is the sense of Congress that on or before January 15, 1959, a program of reorganization establishing an independent aviation authority, following the objectives and conclusions of the Curtis report, entitled ‘Aviation Facilities Planning,’ be submitted to the Congress.” The Senate confirmed the appointment of Elwood R. Quesada as chairman on August 16. In the following month, Malcolm A. MacIntyre, Under Secretary of the Air Force, and Louis S. Rothschild, Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation, were designated respectively by the Secretaries of Defense and Commerce to act in their stead as members of the Board. (See April 11, 1957, and November 1, 1958.)
August 1957:Congress appropriated $12.5 million for a second airport for Washington, DC, to be built on a site to be recommended by President Eisenhower. (See December 1955 & January 16, 1958.)
Saturday, September 7, 1957:The President signed legislation establishing an aircraft loan guarantee program to aid local service and territorial carriers unable to obtain private loans to purchase new and modern equipment. The act authorized CAB to guarantee loans of up to $5 million for each such airline. (see October 15, 1962.)
September 9-13, 1957:CAA held demonstrations of scan conversion equipment under evaluation at its Technical Development Center, Indianapolis. The equipment was designed to improve radar display techniques. (See April 27, 1960.)
Friday, October 4, 1957:The Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first manmade earth satellite, into orbit. (See January 31, 1958.)
Tuesday, October 29, 1957:The President approved actions of the Airways Modernization Board, taken in accordance with provisions of its basic statute, which transferred to the AMB certain funds and all functions of the Air Navigation Development Board along with several research and development programs of the Departments of Defense and Commerce relating to air traffic control. Subsequent presidentially approved orders transferring additional funds and ATC projects from the DOD. (See May 23, 1948, January 1954, and August 14, 1957.)
Tuesday, November 26, 1957:The board of directors of the Air Transport Association passed a resolution favoring the creation of an independent Federal agency to make safety rules and develop a common civil-military system of airspace control and use.
Sunday, December 1, 1957:After receiving authority from the Civil Aeronautics Board, CAA designated all the airspace in the continental United States at or above 24,000 feet (exclusive of prohibited and restricted areas) as the “continental control area” and planned twelve “superskyways” that would provide direct, controlled high-altitude routes for transcontinental commercial flights. Positive control on these routes, however, was mandatory only during instrument conditions; during visual flight rule conditions it was provided at the option of the pilot. This meant that CAA could guarantee separation only between aircraft that filed an IFR flight plan. But these aircraft would have no protection from military and private airplanes that could still choose to fly the same airspace under visual flight rules, so long as weather permitted such flight. In any event, genuine positive control could not be implemented without CAB first permitting it by amending Part 60 of the Civil Air Regulations. (See May 28, 1958.)
Friday, December 6, 1957:The Lockheed 188A Electra first flew. The transport, a four-engine turboprop airliner of short-to-medium range with a maximum capacity of 99 passengers, received its type certificate on August 22, 1958, and entered scheduled airline service with Eastern Air Lines on January 12, 1959.
Friday, December 20, 1957:The first U.S.-made turbojet airliner, the Boeing 707, first flew. (Boeing’s 367-80, the prototype for both the 707 and the military KC-135 Stratotanker, had first flown on July 15, 1954.) CAA certificated the aircraft, a four-engine, long-range plane with a maximum capacity of 189 passengers on September 23, 1958. The 707 entered scheduled airline service, on October 26, 1958, with Pan American World Airways (see October 4, 1958). On August 30, 1991, Boeing announced an end to production of the 707. The company built 857 of the 707s, selling the last as a radar surveillance plane earlier in 1991.
Thursday, January 9, 1958:The Secretaries of Commerce and Defense concluded a joint-use agreement to: avoid duplicating facilities, equipment, and overlapping functions; increase the capability of each function; and create an air traffic control system functionally compatible with the nation’s defense facilities in peace and war. They agreed that each department would “make its respective surveillance, data processing, situation display, communications, identification processes and facilities mutually and fully available for the early attainment of the objective above.” They also agreed that the Airways Modernization Board would develop criteria for the practical application of this national policy. (See November 16, 1956, and September 2, 1958.)
Tuesday, January 14, 1958:Australia’s Qantas Empire Airways began the first completely round-the-world scheduled passenger service, using Super Constellations. (See June 17, 1947.)
Thursday, January 16, 1958:In a report to Congress, President Eisenhower endorsed the recommendation of his special assistant for aviation, E. R. Quesada, that Washington’s second public airport be built at Chantilly, VA. Land acquisition began January 27, 1958. (See August 1957 and July 11, 1958.)
Friday, January 31, 1958:The United States successfully launched Explorer I, the first U.S. earth satellite. (See October 4, 1957.)
Thursday, February 13, 1958:The Civil Aeronautics Board issued an amendment to the Civil Air Regulations that reaffirmed and clarified the authority and responsibility of the Civil Aeronautics Administration’s Administrator in the designation and use of restricted airspace areas. A concurrent amendment recognized that under defense-emergency circumstances it might be necessary for the military to deviate from the CARs. But all other military flights, such as training , were to be conducted under the terms of a waiver issued by the Administrator. The action became effective April l.
Saturday, April 19, 1958:CAA commissioned the Phoenix air route traffic control center.
Monday, April 21, 1958:An Air Force jet fighter collided with a United Air Lines DC-7 near Las Vegas, NV, killing both occupants of the fighter and all 47 persons aboard the airliner. Another midair collision between a military jet and an airliner occurred on May 20 when a T-33 trainer and a Capital Airlines Viscount collided over Brunswick, MD. This second accident cost the lives of one of the two persons aboard the T-33 and all 11 aboard the Viscount. The twin tragedies spurred governmental action already underway to improve air traffic control and to establish a comprehensive Federal Aviation Agency. (See May 21 and May 28, 1958.)
Wednesday, May 21, 1958:Senator A. S. Mike Monroney (D-OK) introduced S. 3880, a bill “to create an independent Federal Aviation Agency, to provide for the safe and efficient use of the airspace by both civil and military operations and to provide for the regulation and promotion of civil aviation in such a manner as to best foster its development and safety.” By the next day 33 Senators were listed as cosponsors of the bill, and Representative Oren Harris (D-AR) introduced the same bill as H.R. 12616. On June 13, President Eisenhower, in a message to Congress, recommended early enactment of such legislation to consolidate “all the essential management functions necessary to support the common needs of our civil and military aviation.” (See August 23, 1958.)
Wednesday, May 28, 1958:CAB adopted Special Civil Air Regulation 424, which authorized the CAA Administrator to designate as a “positive control route segment” any portion of the airspace between 17,000 and 35,000 feet to a width of not more than 40 miles. Within airspace so designated, all visual flight rule (VFR) flights would be prohibited regardless of weather; only instrument flight rule (IFR) operations, conducted with the prior approval of air traffic control, were to be permitted. This ruling took into account the extreme closure rates of high performance aircraft, and represented a major modification of the long-established, “see-and-be-seen” philosophy applicable to VFR operations. Until that time Board rulings on the subject had dealt primarily with meteorological conditions affecting a pilot’s ability to see other aircraft. On June 15, CAA designated five positive control routes on trial basis. Although only a stopgap measure to improve safety, the designation of these airways marked the beginning of positive control. On September 15, 1959, FAA made these positive control routes permanent, and began plans to develop more positive control in both a route and area basis. (See October 15, 1960-March 1, 1961.)
Friday, May 30, 1958:The Douglas DC-8 first flew. On August 31, 1959, FAA type-certificated this four-engine long-range jet airliner with a maximum capacity for 189 passengers. The plane entered scheduled airline service with Delta on September 18, 1959.
Sunday, June 15, 1958:CAA began using Greenwich mean time for all domestic air traffic control operations.
Tuesday, July 1, 1958:The Airways Modernization Board established the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC) near Atlantic City, NJ. The fledgling Federal Aviation Agency assumed all functions of the Board, including control of NAFEC, on November 1, 1958 (see that date). Beginning in early 1959, the Technical Development Center that CAA had operated in Indianapolis was gradually deactivated, and many of its resources, functions, and personnel were transferred to NAFEC during that year.
Friday, July 11, 1958:Congress removed the ceiling of $14 million (see September 7, 1950) for the construction of a second Washington airport. On August 1, 1958, the U.S. Government took official possession of the 8,200-acre Washington international airport site at Chantilly, VA. Construction on what was eventually to become Dulles International Airport began the following month. (See January 16, 1958, and July 15, 1959.)
Monday, July 21, 1958:A Presidential Emergency Board issued its report on a dispute between the Eastern Air Lines and unions representing its pilots and flight engineers. President Eisenhower had appointed the board the previous January to mediate the controversy over the qualifications of the flight engineer on turbojet transports. The board concluded that a flight engineer on jetliners should have piloting qualifications and recommended that Eastern train its flight engineers to qualify for a commercial pilot’s certificate. Despite the board’s report in the Eastern dispute, American Airlines decided to give the third seat on the Boeing 707 to mechanic-trained flight engineers. Reacting to that decision, American’s pilots walked off the job on December 19. After 23 days, the strike ended when American agreed to add a third pilot (a fourth crew member) to the 707 cockpit. Other airlines that traditionally employed mechanic-trained flight engineers (Pan Am, Western, Eastern, and TWA) signed similar labor agreements with the Air Line Pilots Association requiring them to employ a fourth person in the jet cockpit. (See July 21, 1958 and June 7, 1960.)
Saturday, August 23, 1958:President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (P.L. 85-726) into law. Treating comprehensively the Federal role in fostering and regulating civil aeronautics and air commerce, the new statute repealed the Air Commerce Act of 1926, the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, the Airways Modernization Act of 1957, and those portions of the various Presidential reorganization plans dealing with civil aviation. The act assigned the functions exercised under these repealed laws, which had been dispersed within the Federal structure, to two independent agencies–the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), which was created by the act, and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), which was freed of its administrative ties with the Department of Commerce. FAA came into existence with the signing of the Act, but assumed its functions in stages. Pursuant to the legislation, it also took over the responsibilities and personnel of the Airways Modernization Board, which were transferred to it by Executive Order 10786, on November l. FAA inherited as a nucleus the organization and functions of CAA on December 31, 1958. Later (on August 11, 1960), Executive Order 10883 terminated the Air Coordinating Committee, transferring its functions to FAA. Section 103 of the act concisely stated the Administrator’s major powers and responsibilities as follows:
  • The regulation of air commerce in such manner as to best promote its development and safety and fulfill the requirements of national defense;
  • The promotion, encouragement, and development of civil aeronautics;
  • The control of the use of the navigable airspace of the United States and the regulation of both civil and military operations in such airspace in the interest of the safety and efficiency of both;
  • The consolidation of research and development with respect to air navigation facilities, as well as the installation and operation thereof;
  • The development and operation of a common system of air traffic control and navigation for both military and civil aircraft.
  • CAB, though retaining responsibility for economic regulation of the air carriers and for accident investigation, lost under the act most of its former authority in the safety regulation and enforcement field to FAA. The law provided, however, that any FAA order involving suspension or revocation of a certificate might be appealed to CAB for hearing, after which CAB could affirm, amend, modify, or reverse the FAA order. Provision was made for FAA participation in accident investigation, but determination of probable cause was to be the function of CAB alone. When the FAA assumed full operational status on December 31, 1958, it absorbed certain CAB personnel associated with the safety rulemaking function. (See November 1 and December 31, 1958.)
Tuesday, September 2, 1958:The CAA Administrator and the Commander of the Air Force’s Air Defense Command announced the establishment of a program for joint use of 31 new high-power, long-range radar facilities and plans for such joint use of additional facilities in the future. Under the extensive joint-use program, each agency was to budget for special equipment or modifications to meet its particular requirements, with ADC providing security guards and CAA maintaining the primary radar and other facilities used in air traffic control. (See January 9, 1958, and May 1959.)
Wednesday, October 1, 1958:The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established under the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. Passage of the Space Act (signed into law by President Eisenhower on July 29, 1958) settled the question of whether space exploration should be under civilian or military control. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which had been in existence since 1915, was absorbed by and formed the nucleus for the new civilian space agency.
Saturday, October 4, 1958:British Overseas Airways Corporation inaugurated the first transatlantic jet passenger service, using de Havilland Comet 4 aircraft flying between New York and London. On the 26th of the same month, Pan American World Airways began the first U.S. scheduled jet service with Boeing 707 flights between New York and Paris. On December 10, 1958, National Airlines used leased 707s to begin the first U.S. domestic scheduled jet airline service, flying between New York and Miami.
Saturday, October 4, 1958:CAA issued a Technical Standard Order containing revised standards for the design of runways to meet the requirements of both conventional and turbine-powered air carrier aircraft. Superseding an October 1948 standard, the new TSO (N6b) reduced the number of airport classifications for air carrier service from six to four, with corresponding changes in runway lengths, widths, and strength.
Saturday, November 1, 1958:Elwood R. Quesada became the first Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency. The son of a Spanish businessman and an Irish-American mother, “Pete” Quesada was born in Washington, DC, in 1904, and attended Maryland and Georgetown universities. He joined the Army in 1924, received his pilot’s wings, and returned to civilian life before reentering active duty in 1927. Quesada was a member of the flight crew of the Army C-2 Question Mark, which, under the command of Major Carl Spaatz, broke world endurance marks in January 1929 by remaining in the air for more than 150 hours. During World War II, Quesada flew many combat missions and held a series of important commands, including the 12th Fighter Command, the 9th Fighter Command, and the 9th Tactical Air Command. Units under his leadership made important contributions to the success of the Normandy invasion and other campaigns by achieving air superiority, flying interdiction missions, and providing close air support to ground troops. Quesada’s assignments after the war included: Commanding General, Tactical Air Command (1946); chairman of the Joint Technical Planning Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1949); and Commanding General of Joint Task Force Three (1951). He held, with various other awards, the Distinguished Service Medal with one cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After retiring from the Air Force in 1951 with the rank of Lieutenant General, Quesada held a variety of positions in private industry before returning to government as Special Assistant to the President for aviation matters (see July 17, 1957) and later Chairman of the Airways Modernization Board (see entry for August 14, 1957). To qualify as FAA Administrator, Quesada complied with the provisions of the Federal Aviation Act by resigning his commission as a retired regular military officer. (Congress later restored his commission after he left FAA.) Sixty days after Quesada’s appointment, FAA assumed the full scope of its responsibilities (see December 31, 1958). Quesada served as Administrator for the remainder of the Eisenhower Administration, resigning effective January 20, 1961 (see that date).
Saturday, November 1, 1958:Executive Order No. 10786 transferred all functions of the Airways Modernization Board to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency. This action was taken in accordance with the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. (See August 23, and December 31, 1958.)
Wednesday, December 31, 1958:The Federal Aviation Agency assumed the full scope of its statutory responsibilities. Under the provisions of the Federal Aviation Act (see August 23, 1958) the effective date of appointment of the first FAA Administrator (see November 1, 1958) determined the effective date of most of the operative provisions of the act, which were to take effect 60 days from the qualification of the first Administrator. On this date FAA superseded CAA and absorbed certain CAB personnel associated with safety rulemaking. James T. Pyle, the last CAA Administrator, became Deputy Administrator of FAA, a post he continued to hold until November 30, 1961 (see February 21, 1962).
Wednesday, December 31, 1958:The FAA Administrator signed an agreement with the military departments setting forth the conditions for assignment of members of the Armed Services to FAA.
Calendar Year 1958:This was the first year that the total number of transatlantic passengers traveling by air exceeded the number traveling by sea. (See Calendar Year 1966.)
Saturday, January 3, 1959:Alaska entered the Union as the 49th State.
Sunday, January 4, 1959:A published report described the successful use of Doppler navigation techniques in aerial explorations for oil in remote areas.
Wednesday, January 7, 1959:The Federal Aviation Agency began an extensive air traffic survey covering all segments of U.S. aviation — air carrier, military, and general aviation. Goals of the survey were to develop estimates of air activity through 1980 and to formulate a scientific method of forecasting air activity. FAA’s sampling of a period having the lowest level of air activity was followed in July and August by a second survey providing data on the summer peak.
Thursday, January 15, 1959:Agency Order 1 prescribed FAA’s basic organizational structure. The Administrator and his Deputy were assisted by three staff offices headed by Assistant Administrators: Management Services; Personnel and Training; and Plans and Requirements (the name of which was shortened to Plans on July 10, 1960). Other staff officials reporting to the Administrator included the General Counsel, the Civil Air Surgeon, and the heads of the Offices of Public Affairs, Congressional Liaison, and International Coordination. The agency’s major programs were entrusted to four Bureaus whose Directors reported to the Administrator: Research and Development (testing and development of new equipment); Flight Standards (certification of airmen, aircraft, and air carriers); Air Traffic Management (planning and operation of the airspace system); and Facilities (acquisition and maintenance of air navigation facilities and related equipment). FAA’s initial field structure retained the Civil Aeronautics Administration’s system of six numbered regions headed by Regional Administrators reporting to the agency chief. Three large field facilities were exempt from regional control: the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC), the Aeronautical Center, and Washington National Airport.
Wednesday, January 21, 1959:The FAA Administrator submitted to Congress draft legislation to extend the Federal Airport Act to June 30, 1963. Intended to effect an “orderly withdrawal” from the airport grant program, the bill authorized $200 million graduated downward over the four-year period. The bill proposed to revise the apportionment of funds among the States, increasing from 25 to 50 percent the proportion of funds that could be allocated at the Administrator’s discretion regardless of geographical location. The proposal also limited grants under the act to construction of landing area facilities such as runways and control towers, while excluding such items as terminal buildings, parking lots, and entrance roads. (See August 3, 1955, October 18, 1955, and June 20, 1959.)
Sunday, January 25, 1959:Transcontinental jet airliner service began as American Airlines inaugurated Boeing 707 flights between New York and Los Angeles. The new service also made American the first U.S. airline to begin domestic scheduled jet flights using its own aircraft (see October 4, 1958). High-altitude radar advisory service was also established, using FAA-military radar teams based at 17 military installations across the United States.
Tuesday, January 27, 1959:The Convair 880 (Model 22) first flew. On May 1, 1960, FAA certificated this four-engine medium-range jet airliner with a maximum capacity of 110 passengers. The plane, built by General Dynamics Corporation, entered scheduled service on May 15, 1960, with Delta Air Lines.
Thursday, January 29, 1959:The Civil Aeronautics Board issued the first certificates to supplemental air carriers. The certificated supplemental operators were authorized to offer unlimited domestic charter service, as well as up to ten round trips per month between any pair of U.S. points for individually ticketed passengers or individually waybilled cargo. The Board awarded the certificates of public convenience and necessity on a two- or five-year basis to 23 applicants, most of whom were already offering substantially the same types of services under an interim exemption. (See November 15, 1955, and July 10, 1962.)
Tuesday, February 3, 1959:A Pan Am 707 entered a steep dive toward the Atlantic after its autopilot disengaged at 35,000 feet. The captain, who had been in the passenger cabin when the dive began, fought powerful gravity forces to return to the cockpit. Taking command from the copilot, he was able to end the dive at 6,000 feet. Prompted by this near-disaster, FAA in April began rigorously enforcing an often-disregarded rule requiring all flight-crew members to remain at their stations “except when the absence of one is necessary in connection with his regular duties.”
Sunday, February 8, 1959:FAA announced plans to coordinate Federal research and development in aviation weather forecasting and reporting. The announcement followed general agreement between FAA, the Department of Commerce (Weather Bureau), and Department of Defense on the need for such a joint research program.
Wednesday, February 25, 1959:In a special conference at Montreal, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), approved the distance-measuring element (DMET) as a complement to the very high frequency omnidirectional radio range (VOR). Over protests of the British delegation, which favored its own Decca Navigator System, the conferees adopted the American-developed system as a navigational-aid standard for the world’s airlines until 1975. This action extended a 1949 ICAO agreement not to require replacement of basic VOR equipment prior to January 1, 1966 to 1975.
March 27-28, 1959:At FAA’s Aeronautical Center, Administrator Elwood R. Quesada held a meeting on rulemaking and enforcement attended by nearly 200 regional administrators, regional attorneys, and key Flight Standards personnel. Quesada announced plans for a concentrated aviation safety drive and full use of the agency’s rulemaking powers. The Administrator stated his “4-F” philosophy that FAA enforcement activities must be “firm, fair, fast, and factual.”
Wednesday, April 1, 1959:British Overseas Airways Corporation completed the first turbine-powered airline passenger flight around the world, (in this case, both turbojet and turboprop aircraft were used). The airline began this service on a regular basis on August 22, 1959. (See October 10, 1959.)
Wednesday, April 1, 1959:Three air defense identification zones (ADIZs) were eliminated and flight requirements within the remaining zones were relaxed effective this date. Elimination of the Western, Eastern, and Presque Isle Identification Zones became possible by the complete encirclement of the United States following establishment of an ADIZ in the Gulf of Mexico on February l. (See December 1, 1955.)
Thursday, April 2, 1959:FAA announced the adoption of a new “mobile lounge” concept of transporting airline passengers between the terminal building and parked aircraft at Washington’s planned jet airport at Chantilly, VA. Making possible a reduction in terminal building size, the mobile lounge system was intended to eliminate finger docks, tunnels, and other devices to get passengers to their airplane. Although passengers at some European airports traveled between terminal and aircraft on buses, this was the first time that a specially designed vehicle had been proposed for this purpose. On November 27, 1961, FAA reaffirmed the concept for use at the new airport and announced a $4.7 million contract award for 20 mobile lounges.
Wednesday, April 8, 1959:CAB ruled that foreign airlines could not carry commercial traffic moving only between U.S. cities. Consistent with U.S. international commitments, the ruling was viewed as strengthening the stand of U.S. airlines against further invasion of domestic markets by foreign carriers.
Monday, April 27, 1959:FAA announced a contract award for development of an air height surveillance radar (AHSR-1) to automatically provide air traffic controllers with information on aircraft altitudes up to a range of 50 nautical miles. This data would add a third dimension to the distance and bearing data provided by radar currently in use. The AHSR-1 would have a three-sided fixed antenna 150 feet in height, with each of the three sides 60 feet wide. FAA completed development and testing of the AHSR-1 during fiscal 1963, but the project was placed on standby as a possible backup system due to a decision to use secondary radar as the primary means of acquiring aircraft height data. (See September 10, 1959.)
Friday, May 1, 1959:Installation of an experimental runway barrier for commercial aircraft began at FAA’s National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center near Atlantic City. Aimed at developing an effective barrier for civil aircraft in case of overruns on landings or takeoffs, the program–the first to be sponsored by the Federal government–called for a six-month evaluation of the arresting device.
Monday, May 11, 1959:The Vertol 107 helicopter, a twin-turbine-powered transport, was demonstrated in flight at Philadelphia International Airport.
Friday, May 15, 1959:New procedures for allocating airspace to meet civil and military requirements became effective. In keeping with the authority vested solely in the FAA Administrator by the Federal Aviation Act, the revised rules superseded procedures under which airspace matters were processed through the Air Coordinating Committee and its regional counterparts. The new regulation also established procedures for assignment of airspace in accordance with provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act. By the end of calendar 1960, approximately 25,100 square miles of restricted- and prohibited-area airspace had been restored to common use. Approximately 123,700 square miles of restricted-airspace blocks remained.
May 1959:In keeping with its mandate to develop a common civil-military airspace system (see August 23, 1958), FAA initiated “Project Friendship.” Consultations were begun with the Defense Department to determine which military functions pertaining to air navigation and air traffic control — both domestic and overseas — should be transferred to FAA and when the transfers should be made. (See October 7, 1959.)
Monday, June 1, 1959:FAA commissioned the Guam air route traffic control center.
Wednesday, June 3, 1959:FAA announced that the agency had commissioned UNIVAC file computers for use in air traffic control at its New York and Washington air route traffic control centers (ARTCCs). Additional systems were scheduled to be installed in late summer at the Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Boston ARTCCs. These general purpose electronic computers were to be used in preparing flight progress strips, exchanging information with one another, and generally aiding air traffic controllers in their “bookkeeping chores.”
Sunday, June 14, 1959:FAA established a Bureau of National Capital Airports to provide management responsibility for Washington National Airport and the new Washington International Airport, then under construction at Chantilly, VA, and soon to be renamed (see July 15, 1959). Establishment of the new bureau was viewed as an interim measure pending enactment of legislation to set up a government corporation, within the framework of FAA, to handle the management and operational functions of both airports.
Saturday, June 20, 1959:The President approved a two-year extension of Federal-aid to airport program (FAAP) at the current $63 million level of funding. An administration bill had proposed $200 million for a four-year period of “orderly withdrawal” from the aid program, while the Senate originally passed a four-year $465 million program. The House approved a $297 million plan for the four-year period. Refusal of the President to expand the FAAP commitment and the failure of the Senate-House conferees to resolve their differences resulted in this stopgap compromise measure. (See January 21, 1959 and September 20, 1961.)
Wednesday, July 1, 1959:A new safety rule became effective requiring that holders of first class medical certificates — airline transport pilots — must submit to an annual electrocardiogram.
Friday, July 10, 1959:The Federal Aviation Agency, which had assumed the safety rulemaking functions of the Civil Aeronautics Board, announced an end to the three-year near miss reporting program that had granted immunity from prosecution to pilots reporting their own involvement in near-collisions (see February 23, 1956). The purpose of the program had been to compile data on the numbers and causes of such incidents. Believing that the program had outlived its usefulness, FAA Administrator Quesada directed that future reports of near misses be handled by FAA in accordance with the normal investigative procedures established for other safety violation reports. (See June 7, 1961.)
Wednesday, July 15, 1959:President Eisenhower signed an order designating Washington’s international airport under construction at Chantilly, VA, as the Dulles International Airport in memory of his late Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. (See July 11, 1958, and November 17, 1962.)
Sunday, July 26, 1959:FAA consolidated responsibility for the planning, coordination, and utilization of radio frequencies in a newly established Frequency Management Staff Division within its Bureau of Facilities. In addition to these functions, the new staff division was assigned responsibility for representing FAA before the Interdepartmental Radio Advisory Committee.
Friday, July 31, 1959: Effective this date, FAA required that one pilot at the controls of a turbine-powered airliner operating above 25,000 feet wear and use an oxygen mask, and that the other cockpit crew members wear masks ready for immediate use. This rule was modified as experience with jet operations grew and oxygen mask design evolved. Effective February 1, 1960, the altitude above which one pilot was required to use a mask was raised to 30,000 feet if all cockpit crew members wore masks designed for fast donning when needed. Effective September 30, 1965, the altitude above which these requirements applied to turbine aircraft equipped with fast-donning masks was raised to 41,000 feet.
Friday, August 21, 1959:Hawaii entered the Union as the 50th State.
Thursday, September 10, 1959:To aid in the control of civil and military air traffic, FAA put into operation in the New York area a 64-code air traffic control radar beacon system, commonly known as secondary radar. A descendant of the World War II IFF (Identification, Friend, or Foe), the new equipment was designed to reinforce primary radar signals and permit positive identification of individual aircraft carrying transponders. By May of the following year, 20 radar beacons had been put in operation at 16 air route traffic control centers. (See April 7, 1961.)
Tuesday, September 15, 1959:FAA adopted new procedures for handling temporary airspace reservations for mass movements of military aircraft and extended the altitude reservation service to oceanic areas. Reflecting the growing use by civil jets of altitudes above 24,000 feet–airspace previously used almost exclusively by military aircraft–the new rules required the filing of airspace reservation requests four to twelve days in advance of the mission. Missions not airborne within 30 minutes past the scheduled time of departure would be subject to FAA cancellation to make the airspace available to other users. To supplement the work of its Central Altitude Reservation Facility (CARF) in Kansas City, MO (see July 24,1956), FAA established gateway sectors at the Honolulu air route traffic control center and at the New York ARTCC to handle altitude reservations for military flights over the Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean areas, respectively.
Sunday, September 20, 1959:FAA commissioned the San Antonio air traffic control center’s new building, the first in a program to construct 32 new center facilities. Located in most cases away from airports to permit more space and to withstand nuclear attack on critical target areas, the buildings had an expandable design to facilitate installation and use of the latest equipment. By the end of 1960, 15 of the centers were under construction or completed.
Monday, September 21, 1959:FAA announced that its representatives and those of DOD and the Air Force had signed an agreement to establish nine FAA air route traffic control centers at Air Force SAGE supercombat centers. The supercombat centers were part of the SAGE (semiautomatic ground environment) system for radar surveillance and identification of air traffic for air defense. (See July 10, 1956, and April 12, 1960.)
Tuesday, September 29, 1959:A Braniff Lockheed Electra lost a wing and exploded in flight over Buffalo, TX, with the loss of all 34 persons aboard. (See March 17, 1960.)
Wednesday, October 7, 1959:Speaking on the theme “Project Friendship,” FAA Administrator Quesada announced that FAA was preparing to assume the operation of about 2,095 military air traffic control facilities at 337 global locations. Under the “Friendship” plan, four types of military functions would be scheduled for transfer: air navigation and air traffic control services; military flight service; air traffic controller training; and facilities flight inspection. FAA and DOD would coordinate time phasing for absorbing military facilities, and implementation of certain parts of the project depended on further understandings with DOD and agreements with foreign countries. (See May 1959, and December 15, 1960.)
Saturday, October 10, 1959:Pan American World Airways inaugurated round-the-world jet service (excluding the continental United States) using intercontinental versions of the Boeing 707. On October 27, Australia’s Qantas Empire Airways began operating the first jet service to completely circle the globe.
Thursday, October 15, 1959:FAA adopted an amendment to Civil Air Regulations Part 29 that clarified the physical and mental conditions disqualifying an airman from holding a medical certificate. The disqualifying medical conditions spelled out in the new revision included: diabetes mellitus requiring insulin; coronary artery disease; a history of psychosis; or certain other mental or nervous diseases such as behavior disorders, chronic alcoholism, drug addiction, or epilepsy.
Saturday, October 31, 1959:FAA announced plans to establish a Civil Aeromedical Research Center (later named the Civil Aeromedical Research Institute) at the Aeronautical Center, Oklahoma City, to carry out its assigned responsibilities for research in aviation medicine. CARI’s research would aim at developing medical data needed to meet operational problems anticipated as civil air operations moved into higher altitudes and greater speeds. (See July 1, 1953 and October 21, 1962.)
Sunday, November 22, 1959:An extensive reorganization of FAA’s Bureau of Research and Development became effective. In place of the six previous divisions plus the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC) at Atlantic City, NJ, the new structure embodied ten divisions consisting of the following five staff and five program divisions, respectively: Plans, Operations, Contracts, Budget, and Administrative Services; Research, Test and Experimentation, Systems Engineering, Air Defense Integration, and Development.
Monday, November 23, 1959:The Strategic Air Command began using seven special air routes established for its use by FAA to carry out day and night, all-weather, low-altitude training missions. The routes for Operation Oil Burner, code name for these SAC radar bomb runs over simulated targets throughout the country, were laid out to avoid congested population and airport centers to the maximum extent possible.
Monday, November 23, 1959:The Boeing 720 first flew. On June 30, 1960, FAA certificated the 720, a four-engine medium-range jet transport with a maximum capacity of 140 passengers. The plane entered scheduled service with United Airlines on July 5, 1960.
Monday, December 7, 1959:FAA began a stepped-up safety inspection program of all scheduled air carrier flight operations and training programs, placing its safety inspectors on a round-the-clock schedule. The concentrated 30-day program was prompted by a rash of accidents and was intended to underscore FAA’s intensified commitment to air safety.
Sunday, December 13, 1959:Effective this date, FAA realigned responsibilities for its materiel functions, management of FAA aircraft, and activities at the Aeronautical Center, Oklahoma City, OK. The Bureau of Facilities — with “Materiel” added to its designation — was assigned expanded responsibility for procurement of materiel for the establishment, maintenance, and repair of air navigation and air traffic control equipment. The task of monitoring agency wide the application of materiel practices and policies was given to the Office of Management Services. Reporting directly to the Bureau of Facilities and Materiel, a Facilities and Materiel Depot was established at the Aeronautical Center to perform overhaul and heavy maintenance on all FAA aircraft, centrally warehouse and distribute materiel, and operate shops for repair and fabrication of airways equipment. Responsibility for the management and light maintenance of all FAA aircraft was assigned to the Bureau of Flight Standards. The Bureau of Personnel and Training controlled the extensive training programs at the Aeronautical Center, which were grouped together as the FAA School (later known briefly as the Training Center before being renamed the FAA Academy in early 1962). Under the new concept of organization, the Director of the Aeronautical Center was responsible for providing the physical plant and administrative and supporting services for the various agency bureaus and offices conducting programs at the Center. The operating bureaus and offices, however, exercised line authority over the programs.
December 1959:FAA established the world’s first helicopter air traffic control service in the New York area to aid in an intensive government-industry test of all-weather helicopter operations.
Primary Sources:
Dated items along the left margin of the FAA History Pages were compiled from the series of FAA’s ‘Historical Chronology’ PDF files. For a list and links to uploaded copies of these PDF files, see aiReform’s ‘FAA History’ main page (link above).
Additional content has been compiled from Wikipedia and other sources; these items are presented along the right margin, and include significant accidents, Whistleblower case actions, various news items, ATC technology developments, links to related material, comments, etc. Further content will be added at a later date.