The 1980s aviation world experienced fewer hijackings than the 70s. The actions taken by the International Civil Aviation Organization that required all passengers to pass through metal detectors reduced the number of occurrences in the 80s. As aviation events go, the Iran-Iraq War dominated the aviation timeline with both Iran and Iraq attacks on merchant shipping and oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. This would eventually lead to United States intervention to protect the world’s oil supplies passing through the Persian Gulf. First flights in this decade include unique aircraft like the Space Shuttle, AV-8B Harrier II, F-117 Nighthawk, and the V-22 Osprey.

The F-14 Tomcat entered service in the 1970s, but in the 1980s it would see combat in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War. On September 7, 1980, it would record its first kill when an Iranian F-14 Tomcat using its 20mm Vulcan cannon shot down an Iraqi Mi-25 Hind Helicopter. During the eight-year war spanning 1980-1988, Iran’s F-14s shot down 160 Iraqi combat aircraft. United States F-14 Tomcats would see four aerial victories in the 1980s. Two Libyan jets were shot down by F-14s on August 19, 1981, and again two Libyan jets were shot down by F-14s on January 4, 1989.

We have reduced the list below to mostly include the “firsts”, like the balloon flights around the world and solar-powered flights. It is not an exhaustive list that includes every event but is a great summary of such a notable aviation decade.

1980

  • January 8 – A Mooney 231 lands in San Francisco after flying coast-to-coast non-stop across the continental United States, setting a record by completing the flight in 8 hours and 4 minutes.
  • February – An Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-18 flies 18,630 miles from Moscow in the Soviet Union to the Molodyozhnaya Station observatory in East Antarctica.
  • March 12–14 – Two United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft make a non-stop round-the-world flight in 42.5 hours
  • March 31 – The U.S. Air Force deactivates the Aerospace Defense Command
  • April 24Operation Eagle Claw was launched to rescue the 52 Americans held during the Iran hostage crisis. The unsuccessful attempt results in eight men killed, two aircraft destroyed, and, due to mechanical issues, multiple helicopters abandoned inside Iran.
  • May 8–12 – Maxie Anderson and his son Kristian Anderson conduct the first nonstop balloon crossing of North America, flying from Fort Baker in California to Sainte-Félicité, Quebec, Canada in a helium balloon.
  • June 4 – First flight of Japan’s Mitsubishi F-15J based on McDonnell Douglas F-15
  • June 19 – Sikorsky Aircraft delivers the last of its S-61 commercial helicopters.
  • July 6 – The largest light airplane meetup outside the United States brings 750 small planes to the Popular Flying Association’s annual meeting in Leicester, England.
  • July 21 – The General Dynamics F-16 is officially named the “Fighting Falcon” in a ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
  • August 7 – Janice Brown pilots the MacCready Gossamer Penguin on its first solar-powered flight.
  • September 22 – The Iran-Iraq War begins with the Iraqi Air Force attempting a surprise attack to destroy the Iranian aircraft while they are on the ground. It is ineffective and the Iranian aircraft and personnel greatly outnumber Iraqi personnel and aircraft.
  • October 2 – A Westland Sea King helicopter rescues 22 passengers from the Swedish ship Finneagle in the North Sea.
  • October 20 – The first dogfights of the Iran–Iraq War take place. Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-4 Phantom IIs shoot down an Iraqi Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.
  • November 1 – British Airways terminates Concorde services to Bahrain and Singapore.
  • December 7 – The Pan American World Airways Boeing 747 China Clipper arrives in Beijing, China, from New York after a stop in Tokyo, Japan. It marks the first time since 1949 that a commercial flight between the United States and mainland China is completed.

1981

  • January 11–13 – Max Anderson and Don Ida make a failed attempt to circumnavigate the world by balloon. They travel 2,900 miles from Luxor, Egypt, to New Delhi, India, in 48 hours before they give up.
  • January 28 – Pan Am commences a weekly New York-Beijing service.
  • February – This month both Donald Douglas (88), founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company, and Jack Northrop (85), founder of the Northrop Corporation, passed away.
  • March – North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) is renamed the North American Aerospace Defense Command
  • March 2 – Japan Air Lines becomes the first airline to use a computerized flight simulator to train its crews.
  • April 12 – The Space Shuttle Columbia takes off. It marks the first time an American space shuttle flies operationally. It glides to a landing two days later.
  • May 6 – The world’s first aircraft with a phased array radar – the Soviet Union′s Mikoyan MiG-31 (NATO reporting name “Foxhound”) – enters service with the Soviet Air Defense Forces.
  • May 9 – The world’s first carrier with a ski-jump ramp, the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, reenters service with the Royal Navy.
  • June 18 – First flight of the F-117 Nighthawk
  • July 7 – Stephen Ptacek flies the solar-powered aircraft Solar Challenger across the English Channel, taking a little over five hours.
  • August 3 – In violation of American law, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization declares a strike by the 17,000 air traffic controllers in the United States. At least 12,000 ATC walk off their jobs, resulting in widespread flight delays and cancellations, and 22 of the busiest airports in the United States are directed to reduce their scheduled flights by 50 percent.
  • August 5 – After only 1,300 air traffic controllers comply with his order to return to work, President Ronald Reagan fires the 11,345 controllers who ignored the order and bans them from service in the U.S. federal government for life.
  • August 19 – Two United States Navy F-14 Tomcats of Fighter Squadron 41 (VF-41) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) shoot down two Sukhoi Su-22s (NATO reporting name “Fitter”) of the Libyan Air Force over the Gulf of Sidra 60 nautical miles (111 km) off the coast of Libya using AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. They are the first and second of the five kills F-14s will score during the Tomcat’s career in U.S. Navy service.
  • October 2 – President of the United States Ronald Reagan restarts the Rockwell B-1 Lancer bomber program by announcing the order of 100 B-1Bs for the United States Air Force.
  • October 22 – The United States Government decertifies the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization because of its illegal August 1981 strike.
  • November 5 – First flight of the AV-8B Harrier II
  • November 13 – Ben Abruzzo and his crew make the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean by balloon in the Double Eagle V.
  • November 14 – The Space Shuttle Columbia lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California, completing STS-2, the second Space Shuttle flight. Joe H. Engle flies the entire approach and landing manually, the only shuttle pilot ever to do so.
  • December 7 – Mitsubishi F-15J enters service with Japan Air Self-Defense Force

1982

  • January 8 – The Airbus A300 is certified, becoming the first wide-body airliner with cockpit accommodations for only two to be certified.
  • January 18 – While practicing a line-abreast loop at Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field in Nevada, four T-38 Talons of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds air demonstration team crash, killing all four pilots. It remains the worst accident involving show aircraft in Thunderbirds history. The Thunderbirds’ entire 1982 season will be canceled, and their next performance would not take place until the spring of 1983, 18 months after their last one.
  • January 22 – An F/A-18 Hornet makes a fully automated landing, its autopilot linked to a ground radar at Naval Air Test Center Patuxent River, Maryland.
  • February 3 – The Mil Mi-26 helicopter lifts a load weighing 57 metric tons to 6,500 ft to break a world record for a helicopter.
  • February 19 – First flight of Boeing 757
  • April 3 – First flight of Airbus A310
  • May 1 – During the Falklands War, Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan Bomber flies multiple bomber missions, resulting in 16 hour round trips of almost 9,200 miles. This is the longest bombing missions run in history until the 1991 Gulf War.
  • May 22 – The first Spanish Navy aircraft carrier, Principe de Asturias, is launched in Spain.
  • May 30 – The Royal Australian Navy decommissions its last aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne
  • June 7-11 – During the 1982 Lebanon War in air-to-air combat over Lebanon, Israeli aircraft shoot down 79 to 82 Syrian aircraft without any Israeli aircraft being shot down by Syria.
  • July 2 – In the homemade Inspiration I, consisting of a patio chair attached to 45 eight-foot helium-filled weather balloons, Larry Walters lifts off from the backyard of a home in San Pedro, California, and quickly ascends to an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,572 m).
  • August 30 – First flight of Northrop F-20 Tigershark
  • September 1–30 – A helicopter, Spirit of Texas, piloted by H. Ross Perot, Jr. and Jay W. Coburn, fly around the world in 29 days, 3 hours, and 8 minutes, leaving from and returning to Dallas, Texas. It is the first time a trip around the world by helicopter is completed.
  • November 10 – First flight of Mil Mi-28 Helicopter
  • December 21 – Operating from the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, a United States Air Force F-15A Eagle performs the first captive carry test flight of an ASM-135 anti-satellite missile.

1983

  • March 16 – A Boeing 767 lands at Boeing Field in the U.S. State of Washington after a record-breaking non-stop flight for twin-engined airliners at 5,499 miles from Lisbon, Portugal.
  • April 9 – First flight of Piper PA-48 Enforcer
  • April 29 – A historic first deadstick landing by an AV-8B Harrier pilot when his aircraft suffers a complete loss of power during flight training
  • May 26 – A Learjet 55 sets a world speed record in its class of 448 mph over the 5,655 miles between Los Angeles, California, and Paris – Le Bourget Airport, France.
  • June – First flight of a HALSOL (“High-Altitude Solar”) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prototype
  • June 6 – A Sea Harrier pilot dangerously low on fuel and unable to find his way back the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious makes an emergency landing on a Spanish cargo ship.
  • June 11 – Italy’s first aircraft carrier, the Giuseppe Garibaldi, is launched.
  • June 24 – The Space Shuttle Challenger glides to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, bringing the first American woman in space, astronaut Sally K. Ride, back to Earth.
  • June 27 – Ballooning record-setter Maxie Anderson and his co-pilot Don Ida die in a balloon accident near Bad Brückenau, West Germany, during the 1983 Gordon Bennett Cup balloon race.
  • July 8 – The 1,000th F-16 Fighting Falcon is rolled out by General Dynamics
  • July 22 – the first solo circumnavigation of the globe (35,258 miles) in a helicopter is completed by Dick Smith
  • August 23 – First flight of Boeing Skyfox
  • August 24 – A Canadair Challenger 601 business jet sets a world non-stop distance record for a business jet of 4,364.2 miles from Calgary Canada to London, England
  • October 6 – First flight of Bell OH-58D Kiowa
  • November – F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornet entered service with United States Navy
  • November 9–11 – The Soviet Union places Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer bombers on alert at ‘cockpit readiness’ because it believes NATO forces may be preparing to attack the Warsaw Pact in the final days of an exercise called Able Archer 83.
  • December 4 – 28 United States Navy A-6 Intruders attack suspected terrorist bases in Libya following attacks on United States military bases in Beirut, Lebanon

1984

  • The Tupolev Tu-126 (NATO reporting name “Moss”) is retired by the Soviet armed forces
  • January 24 – A United States Air Force F-15A Eagle performs the first of five test launches of the ASM-135 anti-satellite missile
  • February 21 – A world record is set for a trans-Atlantic flight by a single-engined light aircraft of 14 hours and 2 minutes from New York to Paris.
  • February 25 – The Republic F-105 Thunderchief is retired by the United States Air National Guard
  • March 6 – First flight of Airship Industries Skyship 600
  • March 31 – The Avro Vulcan is retired
  • May 7 – First flight of Pilatus PC-9
  • May 15 – First flight of AMX International AMX ground attack aircraft
  • June 16 – The first all-female commercial airline crew makes history with a flight from Denver, Colorado, to Lexington, Kentucky.
  • June 22 – First flight of Rutan Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world without refueling
  • September 13 – First flight of Lockheed S-3B Viking
  • September 14–18 – The first solo transatlantic balloon flight, from Carbon, Maine to Savona, Italy, is completed by American Joseph Kittinger
  • October 2 – The United States Navy awards McDonnell Douglas a US $438 million contract to develop the T-45 Goshawk.
  • October 4 – A 61-year-old woman, who is not a pilot, lands a Piper Cherokee Warrior II safely in Florida after her husband, the plane’s pilot, dies during the flight.
  • October 6 – First flight of FMA IA 63 Pampa
  • November 21 – A covert airlift of 8,000 Jews who had fled a famine in Ethiopia and were living in refugee camps in Sudan are flown to Israel
  • December 1 – NASA intentionally crashes a Boeing 720 as part of its Controlled Impact Demonstration Program at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
  • December 14 – First flight of Grumman X-29
  • December 17 – A United States Air Force C-5 Galaxy takes to the air with 920,836 pounds aboard, setting a U.S. national record.

1985

  • January 1 – The United States Government’s Civil Aeronautics Board is abolished in accordance with the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.
  • February 3 – first flight of Atlas Alpha XH-1 attack helicopter prototype
  • March 1 – The Boy Scouts of America officially ends powered aircraft flight in its Aviation Exploring program, citing difficulties with maintaining insurance coverage in the event of an aircraft accident.
  • April 29 – The United States Navy accepts its first IAI Kfir fighters into service for use as MiG-23 Flogger adversary simulators in air-to-air combat training.
  • May 13 – During an armed standoff between members of the MOVE organization and officers of the Philadelphia Police Department at MOVE’s house in the Cobbs Creek area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter drops two 1-pound bombs made of water gel explosive on a fortified cubicle on the roof of the house. The bombs start a fire that destroys the MOVE house, killing 11 people in it, and then spreads, destroying approximately 65 houses before it is extinguished.
  • June 22 – Sukhoi Su-27 “Flanker” enters service with the Soviet Air Forces
  • July 29 – First flight of Kawasaki T-4, a Japanese subsonic intermediate jet trainer
  • August 1985 – This month remains commercial aviation’s deadliest month for passengers and crew in history. 720 travelers and crew lost their lives onboard commercial aircraft
  • September 13 – An F-15A Eagle flying 200 miles off the California coast fires an ASM-135 antisatellite missile into space and destroys a satellite at an altitude of 345 miles over the Pacific.
  • September 30 – The aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi is commissioned as Italy’s first carrier.
  • October 10 – U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats intercept a commercial airliner that contains the member of the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLO) that had hijacked the passenger ship MS Achille Lauro. They force the aircraft to land in Italy where they are arrested.
  • October 15 – First flight of Fairchild Republic T-46, an American light jet trainer
  • November 18 – The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, is delivered to Washington, D.C. on the back of a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for public museum display at the Smithsonian Institution.
  • December 11 – first flight of the European Changhe Z-8 three engine heavy transport helicopter

1986

  • January 28 – The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after launch. The explosion kills all seven crew members inside the shuttle.
  • February 7 – A USAF C-141B Starlifter departs Haiti, carrying Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier into exile in France.
  • February 12 – United States Navy aircraft carriers commence exercises in the Gulf of Sirte off the coast of Libya, challenging that country’s territorial claims to those waters.
  • February 17 – A world altitude record for gliders at 49,000 feet is set by American pilot Rober Harris using thermals to carry is glider upward.
  • March 24 – In the Gulf of Sidra, air combat breaks out between two Libyan MiG-23 fighters and two United States Navy F-15 Tomcats. Neither fire their weapons at each other.
  • April 14-15 – Forty-five bomber and fighter aircraft of the United States Air Force and Navy launch Operation El Dorado Canyon to attack Libya. The United States loses just one F-111 and its crew.
  • May 1 – Dassault Mirage IVP enters service with the French Air Force
  • May 1 – Pioneer, later known as the RQ-2 Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicle, enters service with the U.S. Navy
  • May 16 – The movie Top Gun, which glamorizes United States Navy aviation, opens in theaters in the United States.
  • May 26 – Michel Vaujour escapes from a jail in Paris, France, in a helicopter flown by his wife, a newly graduated helicopter pilot.
  • June 17 – The last flight ever by a Boeing B-47 Stratojet
  • July – A Boeing 757 sets a new nonstop distance record flying 5,653 miles from Seattle, Washington to Casablanca Morocco.
  • July 4 – First flight of Dassault Rafale A
  • July 15 – A new record for an unrefueled flight of 111 hours 44 minutes is flown by the Rutan Voyager. The flight covers 11,857 miles.
  • August 11 – A new helicopter world speed record is set by a Westland Lynx. It is fitted with special composite rotor blades and travels 249.09 mph.
  • October 1 – AH-64 Apache entered service with the United States Army 6th Cavalry Brigade
  • December – the U.S. Navy conducts the first shipboard trials of the Pioneer (later RQ-2 Pioneer) unmanned aerial vehicle aboard the battleship USS Iowa in the Chesapeake Bay
  • December 2 – After an 18-day around-the-world trip, the Air France Concorde returns to Paris
  • December 8 – First flight of Beriev A-40 Albatros
  • December 14–23 – The Voyager makes the first non-stop flight around the planet without refueling, covering a distance of 26,366 miles.
  • December 31 – First flight of IAI Lavi, an Israeli fourth-generation multirole fighter

1987

  • January – In tests held by the U.S. Navy, the RQ-2 Pioneer UAV demonstrates it can detect targets for the USS Iowa’s 16-inch guns.
  • January 1 – U.S. Coast Guard and Navy helicopters rescue people trapped by fire inside the Dupont Plaza hotel in Puerto Rico.
  • January 7 – French Air Force jets attack the Libyan Air Force base in Ouadi Doum to avenge a raid by Libya against the French military three days before.
  • March – The last of 712 Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighters produced by Grumman are delivered to the United States Navy.
  • March 9 – first flight of Yakovlev Yak-141
  • April – Tu-160 entered service with Soviet Air Forces
  • April 2 – A Royal Air Force Vickers VC10 sets a new record time between the United Kingdom and Australia, landing in Perth, Australia, after a flight of 16 hours 1 minute.
  • May 16 – first flight of Boeing VC-25, a military version of the Boeing 747 airliner operated by the United States Air Force and modified for presidential transport
  • May 17 – In the USS Stark incident, an Iraqi Air Force Dassault Mirage F1 jet hits the U.S. Navy guided-missile frigate USS Stark (FFG-31) with two Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles, badly damaging her and killing 37 and wounding 21 of her crew.
  • June 21 – Air France pilot Partick Fourticq and friend Henri Pescarolo once again enter the record books, completing an around-the-world flight aboard a Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar in 88 hours 19 minutes.
  • July 3 – Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand become the first people to complete a transatlantic flight in a hot-air balloon, aboard the balloon Virgin Atlantic Flyer.
  • July 24 – Operation Ernest Will – United States fighter jet aircraft begin the American military protection of Kuwaiti-owned tankers from Iranian attacks in the Persian Gulf
  • August – During the month, the United States Navy deploys eight RH-53D Sea Stallion minesweeping helicopters to the Persian Gulf to assist in the clearing of Iraqi and Iranian naval mines
  • August 17 – First flight of Sukhoi Su-33 (NATO reporting name “Flanker-D”)
  • August 8 – Two U.S. Navy F-14s intercept an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-4 that was threatening a USAF E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. Two air-to-air missiles were fired from one F-14 and did not hit F-4 but the Iranian aircraft quickly retreats back to Iran.
  • August 31 – First flight of Mitsubishi H-60 a Japan Self Defense Forces version of the Sikorsky Blackhawk
  • September 13 – A fully armed Soviet Air Forces Sukhoi Su-27 (NATO reporting name “Flanker”) intercepts a Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft flying over the Barents Sea and makes three close passes, colliding with P-3 on the third pass. The Su-27 then disengages, and both aircraft return to base safely.
  • September 15 – A new time-to-altitude record for helicopters is set by a Eurocopter AS565 Panther.
  • September 21 – Two U.S. Army OH-6A Cayuse helicopters observe an Iranian boat laying mines at night in the Persian Gulf. The helicopters fire on the ship and disable it, killing up to five people on board. U.S. Seals then seize the ship and scuttle it.
  • October 8 – Iranian boats quickly approach a barge used by the US Navy as a floating American base. US helicopters sink and damage multiple speedboats and kill eight Iranian crewmen. US Seals take six other Iranian prisoners.
  • October 9 – first flight of EHI EH101, later rebranded as the AgustaWestland AW101
  • October 23 – The last F-104 Starfighter is phased out of German Air Force service.
  • October 31 – British Airways accepts the airline’s first women pilots.
  • November 24 – First flight of F-14D Tomcat

1988

  • January 26 – The French Ministry of Defense approves full-scale development of the Dassault Rafale.
  • January 30 – A Boeing 747 sets a new around-the-world record of 36 hours 54 minutes.
  • February – During the month, the United States Navy withdraws the last of the eight RH-53D Sea Stallion minesweeping helicopters it had deployed to the Persian Gulf
  • April 16 – First flight of McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk
  • April 23 – Kanellos Kanellopoulos recreates the mythical flight of Daedalus by flying a pedal-powered aircraft from Crete to Santorini, covering 74 mi in 3 hours 54 minutes.
  • May 8 – First flight of Starr Bumble Bee II, the world’s smallest piloted airplane
  • May 30 – The Principe de Asturias, the first aircraft carrier to be built in Spain, is commissioned into the Spanish Navy
  • June 6 – A Swedish aviator sets a new world altitude record for hot-air balloons, reaching 64,997 feet in Plano, Texas
  • June 28 – First flight of Sukhoi Su-27M (NATO reporting name “Flanker-E”)
  • July 8–13 – Eleven-year-old Chris Marshall flies a Mooney M20 from San Diego, California, in the United States to Paris, France.
  • August 28 – Becoming the worst air show accident in history, the Ramstein airshow disaster takes place during a performance by an Italian aerobatic demonstration team. The three pilots of Aermacchi MB-339 die when their three aircraft collide at Ramstein Air Base in West Germany. 67 spectators on the ground die and 346 people are injured.
  • November 10 – The United States Air Force publicly unveils the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter. It had been operational secretly since 1983.
  • December 9 – First flight of JAS 39 Gripen.
  • December 21 – Pan American World Airways Flight 103, flying from London to New York City, explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 on board and eleven on the ground. Libyan terrorists are blamed for the tragedy.
  • December 31 – In a pilot error incident at Odessa Airport, an Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-134A (NATO reporting name “Crusty”) achieves the highest landing speed for an aircraft, at 258 mph

1989

  • January 4 – Two United States Navy F-14 Tomcats of Fighter Squadron 32 (VF-32) aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) shoot down two Libyan Air Force MiG-23s (NATO reporting name “Flogger”) off the coast of Libya
  • March 19 – First flight of Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
  • March 22 – An Antonov An-225 Mriya sets a total of 106 world and class records during a 3-hour, 30-minute flight.
  • April 21 – U.S. Air Force Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird 61–7974 Item 2025, outbound on an operational sortie from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, suffers an engine explosion and total hydraulic failure. Both crewmembers eject safely.
  • May 13 – An Antonov An-225 Mriya carries the Soviet Buran orbiter for the first time. The Buran is a Russian space shuttle which looked similar to the U.S. space shuttle
  • May 23 – First flight of the second and last Grumman X-29, an American experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing
  • May 28 – First flight of AIDC Ching-Kuo, the Chinese Indigenous Defense Fighter
  • June 2 – Two Israeli Air Force F-15C Eagles shoot down two Syrian MiG-29s (NATO reporting name “Fulcrum”).
  • June 8 – A Soviet Air Force Mikoyan MiG-29 suffers a bird strike during a display at the Paris Air Show. Pilot Anatoli Kvochur manages to prevent the plane from injuring anyone and saves himself by ejecting at only 400 feet
  • July 17 – First flight of B-2 Spirit
  • August 21Rare Bear, a highly modified Grumman F8F Bearcat, sets a new piston-engined speed record of 528.33 mph
  • October 11 – A Syrian Arab Air Force pilot defects to Israel, landing his MiG-23MLD (NATO reporting name “Flogger”) at Megiddo Airport. The Israeli Air Force later flies the MiG-23MLD at its Flight Test Center.
  • November – First flight of Westland Lynx AH.9
  • November 8 – A McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender tanker aircraft refuels a Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber in the air. It is the first aerial refueling of a B-2
  • December 10 – California Polytechnic State University’s Da Vinci III makes the first flight by a human-powered helicopter, remaining airborne for 7.1 seconds and reaching an altitude of 20 cm (8 inches)
  • December 20 – The United States invasion of Panama, Operation Just Cause, begins with over 300 U.S. military aircraft participating.
  • December 31 – First flight of Sukhoi Su-30 (NATO reporting name “Flanker-C”)

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