JANUARY 1 The Military Airlift Command (MAC) is the new designation for the Military Air Transport Command (MATS). Concurrently, the Eastern Air Transport Force is renamed the Twenty – First Air Force and the Western Air Transport Force is now the Twenty – Second Air Force.
Over Southeast Asia, the Air National Guard commits men and resources to augment the Military Airlift Command to fly 75 airlift missions every month from bases in the United States.
January 7 At Beale Air Force Base, California, the 4200th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing receives the first operational SR-71 Blackbird.
January 17 Off the coast of Spain, a B-52 armed with thermonuclear weapons collides with a KC-135 tanker, killing 7 of 11 light crew members. All the weapons are recovered from the crash site, although the last had to be fished up from 2,500 feet down.
MARCH 4 Over North Vietnam, a flight of Air Force Phantom II jet fighters is attacked by three Communist MiG-17s, who make one pass then disappear back to their base.
MARCH 10 In the A Shau Valley, South Vietnam, an A-1E Skyraider flown by Bernard F. Fisher rescues the crew of another downed aircraft under enemy fire; he wins the first Congressional Medal of Honor granted an Air Force officer in the war, and the first designed especially for the Air Force.
MARCH 16-17 High in Earth orbit, the Gemini VII space capsule piloted by Navy astronaut Neil A. Armstrong and Air Force astronaut David Scott has to make an emergency splashdown after one of its maneuvering thrusters jams. This is also the first recovery mission in which Air Force aircraft participate.
MARCH 31 The Strategic Air Command (SAC) phases out the last of its B-47 Stra – tojets, ending the career of the first generation of swept-wing jet bombers.
APRIL 1 In Saigon, South Vietnam, the headquarters, Seventh Air Force under Lieutenant General Joseph H. Moore, becomes a subcommand of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).
April 6 Tactical airlift aircraft of the U. S. Army are transferred to the Air Force, and are subsequently redesignated the C-7A Caribou and the C-8A Buffalo.
APRIL 11 East of Saigon, South Vietnam, Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger is mortally wounded while assisting in the evacuation of several wounded soldiers. He dies after refusing to be evacuated, winning a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor.
APRIL 12 Over North Vietnam, B-52 bombers make their combat debut 85 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone by bombing supply lines at the Mu Gia Pass.
April 25 The 447th Strategic Missile Squadron becomes the first Strategic Air Command unit to deploy Minuteman II ICBMs.
APRIL 26 Over Hanoi, North Vietnam, a Soviet-supplied MiG-21 fighter falls to an F-4C flown by Major Paul J. Gilmore and Lieutenant William T. Smith. This is the first kill of its kind and occurs while a flight of F-105s was being escorted to a target.
May 3 At Edwards Air Force Base, California, the Fulton Recovery System, designed to “snatch” a man from the ground to a moving airplane, is successfully tested by an HC-130H.
JUNE 3—6 High over the Earth, the Gemini IX space capsule piloted by Air Force astronaut Thomas Stafford and Navy astronaut Eugene Cernan experiences technical problems attempting to link up with an orbiting Agena Target Docking Adapter and the mission ends prematurely.
June 8 Tragedy strikes as the second XB – 70A Valkyrie I is struck by an F-104N Starfighter flying in close formation. Both aircraft are destroyed in the ensuing crash, which takes the lives of NASA chief test pilot Joe Walker and Air Force Major Carl Cross.
July 1 At Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, command of the Seventh Air Force passes to General William W. Momyer.
July 18-21 Above the Earth, the Gemini X space capsule flown by astronaut John Young and Air Force astronaut Michael Collins completes two rendezvous with an Agena target vehicle and then returns home.
August 20-29 In response to a destructive earthquake in Turkey, transports from the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) bring in 50 tons of medical and relief supplies for the survivors.
SEPTEMBER 3 Over North Vietnam, large numbers of new MiG-21 jet fighters begin appearing for the first time. These are based at a series of airfields ringing Hanoi, which are off limits to U. S. bombing.
September 20 At Edwards Air Force Base, California, a NASA M2-F1 “lifting body” is flown by Lieutenant Colonel Donald M. Sorlie, the first Air Force officer to test fly the vehicle.
November 11 Above the Earth, the Gemini XII space capsule flown by Navy astronaut James Lovell and Air Force astronaut Buzz Aldrin completes several docking maneuvers with an Agena target vehicle before returning safely.
November 14 On the Antarctic ice shelf, a C-141 Starlifter lands at McMurdo Sound after completing a 2,200-mile flight from Christchurch, New Zealand.
December 14 Over Southeast Asia, Colonel Albert R. Howarth flies his aircraft coolly and effectively under fire; he wins a Mackay Trophy for the effort.