Jun-30: Ominous Day in Space and Flight


June 30 is a day fraught with danger for those venturing into the air or even space.  It was also the opening day for Ottawa International Airport.


Meteorite Strikes Siberia

A meteorite or small comet landed in the Tunguska basin near Vanovara, Siberia, devastating more than 7,800 square kilometres. Residents described it as a fiery ball and some suspected it was a UFO. Due to the rotation of the Earth, if the collision had occurred 4 hours and 47 minutes later, it would have destroyed St. Petersburg. Scientists have advanced over 80 theories explaining the event but none was ever conclusive.

As a result, June 30th is celebrated as Asteroid Day.


UA Flight 610 Crashes Near Denver

On June 30, 1951, United Airlines Flight 610, a US transcontinental San Francisco–Oakland–Salt Lake City–Denver–Chicago service flown by the Douglas DC-6 aircraft Mainliner Overland Trail (registration N37543) crashed in Larimer County, northwest of Denver. All 50 on board (45 passengers and 5 crew) were killed.



TWA and UA Flights Collide Over Grand Canyon

The 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision occurred on Saturday, 30 June 1956 at 10:30 am Pacific Standard Time when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, resulting in the crash of both airliners. All 128 on board both flights perished. It was the first commercial airline crash to result in more than 100 deaths, and led to sweeping changes in the control of flights in the United States. The location of the crash has been designated a National Historic Landmark.



Ottawa International Airport Opens


Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport opens, named after two of the “founding fathers of Canada”,  Sir John A. Macdonald (the first Prime Minister) and Sir George-Étienne Cartier (the father of Confederation). The airport, which replaced a prior joint civilian-military field, had its opening delayed when a U.S. Air Force F-104 Starfighter went supersonic during a low pass over the airport with the sonic boom shattering most of the glass in the building.

Today, the airport is the the sixth busiest in Canada, behind Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton.


Aeroflot Flight 902 Hit By Anti-Aircraft Missile Test

Aeroflot/Far East Flight 902 was a flight on scheduled domestic service from Khabarovsk to Moscow with intermediate stops at Irkutsk and Omsk in the Soviet Union. The flight was operated by a Tu-104A aircraft. On June 30, 1962, with 62 adult passengers, 14 children and 8 crew members, the flight departed Irkutsk on schedule, and made a scheduled report 50 kilometers from Krasnoyarsk. A few minutes later, an agitated voice later identified as that of the second pilot made an incoherent emergency transmission with a background of an unusual noise, and repeated attempts to contact the flight failed.  Its wreckage was found 28 kilometers east of Krasnoyarsk airport in flat terrain with small areas of forest. Investigators subsequently determined that the plane had impacted the ground upside-down at an angle of 40 degrees. There were no survivors.

At the time, the official cause of the disaster was announced to be a stall and loss of spatial orientation in clouds, or a loss of control due to a fire in the passenger cabin or other unknown reasons. However, damage found on the port side of the fuselage (specifically, an entry hole with signs of fire damage on the cabin side of the fuselage) was consistent with that that could be caused by an anti-aircraft missile, and there was an unofficial confirmation that an anti-aircraft missile had gone astray during an air defense exercise in the area.


Thai Air Flight 601 Crash in Hong Kong

Thai Airways International Flight 601 took off from Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA/RCSS) on a flight to Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport. The Sud Aviation Caravelle had 73 passengers and 7 crew on board and after a 1 hour flight was on an ILS approach to land on runway 31 at Hong Kong-Kai Tak International Airport (HKG/VHHH). With a typhoon over Hong Kong at the time of the approach, the Captain was busy looking for visual contact with the ground not noticing that the aircraft had descended below the decision height of 415 feet (126 m). The aircraft made an abrupt heading change (while already 80 feet (24 m) below the glide slope), then entered a high rate of descent and crashed into the sea short of runway 31 under-shoot. The accident killed 24 passengers out of 80 passengers and crew on board.


Soyuz 11 Disaster

Soyuz 11 was the first and only manned mission to board the world’s first space station, Salyut 1 (Soyuz 10 had soft-docked but had not been able to enter due to latching issues).The mission arrived at the space station on 7 June 1971 and departed on 30 June. The mission ended in disaster when the crew capsule depressurised during preparations for reentry, killing the three-man crew. The crew members aboard Soyuz 11 were Vladislav Volkov, Georgy Dobrovolsky, and Viktor Patsayev.  As of June 2014, the three crewmen of Soyuz 11 remain the only humans to have not died on Earth.


TWA Flight 847 Hostages Released

Passengers of TWA Flight 847, which was hijacked in Athens by Hezbollah terrorists and diverted to Beirut, were released after a 17-day ordeal.  Of the 147 passengers and crew, all but one were released unharmed.  The terrorists had killed Navy diver Robert Stethem and dumped his body on the runaway soon after landing in Beirut.




Yemenia Flight 626 Crash Off African Island of Comoros

Yemenia Flight 626 was an Airbus A310-324 twin-engine jet airliner, operated by Yemenia, operating as a scheduled international flight from Sana’a, Yemen, to Moroni, Comoros, that crashed on 30 June 2009 at around 1:50 am local time (22:50 on 29 June, UTC) while on approach to Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport, killing all but one of the 153 passengers and crew on board.   Comoros is approximately 200 miles off the coast of Mozambique.

The sole survivor, 12-year-old Bahia Bakari, was found clinging to wreckage, after floating in the Indian Ocean for thirteen hours. Bakari was released from the hospital on 23 July 2009, approximately one month after the crash.

The final report on the incident concluded that the crew’s inappropriate flight control inputs led to an aerodynamic stall. The report also noted that the crew did not react to the warnings being issued by the aircraft.



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