Aviation in 1961
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
launches a Mercury capsule containing a chimpanzee named Ham.
Ham is recovered successfully.
Paul F. Bikle, Director of NASA's Flight Research Centre at
Edwards Air Force Base in California pilots a Schweizer I23E
glider (sailplane) to a height of 14,102 metres (46,267 feet)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) test
pilot Joe Walker reaches a height of 51,695 metres (169,600
feet) in the North American X15A research aircraft.
The Soviet Union launches Vostok 1 into earth orbit from
Baikonur in Western Siberia and Flight Major Yuri Alexeyvich
Gagarin becomes the first man in space. He lands successfully
after one orbit of the Earth. The flight time is 1 hour 48
Major Robert White of the United States Air Force (USAF),
pilots a North American X15A during a full throttle flight to
a speed of 4,947kph (3,074mph).
The Soviet Union regains the world altitude record when
Colonel G. Mossolov, flying a Mikoyan Ye66A, reaches 34,714
metres (118,898 feet).
Alan B. Shepard becomes the first American in space, when he
is carried into a sub-orbital trajectory in a Mercury capsule
on a flight lasting 15 minutes 22 seconds.
Trans World Airlines (TWA) becomes the first airline to
introduce regular in-flight movies. Screened only in the
first-class section of aircraft flying between New York and
Los Angeles, the first film was 'By Love Possessed' with Lana
Turner and Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
The United States puts a second man, Virgil Grisson, into
sub-orbital flight in the Mercury capsule Liberty Bell 7.
The Soviet Union launches its second man into space in Vostok
Cosmonaut Herman Titov completes 17 earth orbits before
1 day 1 hour 19 minutes after lift off.
The United States launches the world's first active
communication satellite, Courier 1B.
Major Robert White attains a speed of 6,587kph (4093mph) in a
North American X15A.
Lieutenant Colonel R.B. Robinson establishes new world speed
record in a McDonnell F4H-1F Phantom II of 2,585kph
The first direct military support for South Vietnam from the
United States - a United States Navy (USN) carrier transports
two United States Army helicopter companies to Saigon.
The United States Air Force (USAF) graduates its first five
military space pilots from the Aerospace Research Pilots