MMAC Celebrates 75 Years; Remembering 1974 - 1976
Vol.7 Issue 8
1974 – 1976 Mid-Seventies

A lot of things took place between 1974 and 1976. The Aeronautical Center’s Director was Thomas J. Creswell, and the President of the United States changed from Richard Nixon to Gerald Ford. Most of us might remember those times by what music we listened to, which cars we drove, or what debuted on television (Happy Days, Wheel of Fortune and Saturday Night Live).

On the other hand, some might remember those days according to what happened in space:

Mid-1970s memorabilia
Mariner 10 approached Mercury

Astronauts returned to Earth from Skylab, Viking 2 landed on Mars and Apollo docked with Soyuz
  • Mariner 10 approached Mercury
  • Astronauts from Skylab returned to Earth after 84 days in orbit
  • Viking 2 lands on the surface of Mars
  • Apollo-Soyuz Test Project linked spacecraft from American and Soviet nations
  • Pioneer 11 photographed Jupiter’s great red spot
Pioneer 11 photographed Jupiter’s red spot
Evel Knievel attempts to rocket over the Snake River Canyon

Further, you might remember a rocket that never made it to space, but propelled Evel Knievel across the Snake River Canyon. The jump was successful in clearing the canyon, but wind took the parachute holding him aloft down into the ravine.

Universal Product Code (UPC) symbol

Those in the Logistics arena might find it interesting that Universal Product Code (UPC) symbols were scanned for the first time in 1974, from a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum in a supermarket. Who would have thought that barcodes would have such an important role in our history?

1975 brought an end to the Vietnam War. Communist forces took Saigon, resulting in mass evacuations of Americans and South Vietnamese. The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. Unfortunately, more than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the war.

Microsoft and Apple computer systems are created

Also in 1975, Bill Gates founded Microsoft, which eventually dominated the home computer operating system market. Following within the next year, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Inc. Fast forward 45 years, and those computer systems are a huge part of our daily lives. During the Seventies, it would have been hard to fathom the enormous impact that these computer systems would have on the entire world.

Americans celebrated the Bicentennial of the United States in 1976

1976 brought a sense of renewal to the country, as Americans celebrated the Bicentennial of the United States. We paid tribute to historical events leading up to the creation of our country as an independent republic. The Bicentennial culminated on Sunday, July 4, 1976 with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Following are some of the highlights relating to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Aeronautical Center between 1974 through 1976.

Jun 15, 1974: FAA launched Operation Ground Assist, a 30-day general aviation safety program, to raise the level of safety consciousness among general aviation pilots and ground personnel with safety responsibilities. The program was designed to help reverse a continued rise in the number of accidents in personal flying. It entailed visits to selected general aviation airports by FAA field personnel, who looked for unsafe practices, made suggestions, and encouraged a candid exchange of ideas between airmen and the aviation agency.

Aug 5, 1974: President Nixon signed the Anti-Hijacking Act of 1974 into law. Under its provisions, the act:

  • authorized the President to suspend air transportation between the United States and nations that aided terrorist groups who used the illegal seizure of aircraft as an instrument of policy.
  • empowered the Secretary of Transportation, with the approval of the Secretary of State, to impose sanctions against the carriers of nations that failed to maintain minimum security standards in the transportation of persons, property, and mail, as required by the Convention on International Civil Aviation.
  • required air carriers to refuse to carry persons unwilling to submit to personal search, and any article that a passenger did not allow to be inspected.
  • required FAA to continue in effect passenger and baggage screening procedures.
  • allowed FAA to use, for as long as needed, Federal personnel, including FAA personnel, to supplement state, local, and private law enforcement officers in airport security programs.

The passenger screening program and other precautionary measures continued to be effective in combating the hijacking menace. For the second consecutive year, not one successful hijacking occurred on a scheduled U.S. air carrier aircraft.

Airports were allowed to add parallel runways to handle increasing air traffic
Pitot tube conditions are considered highly important to aviation safety

Oct 1, 1974: Effective this date, FAA reduced the minimum separation distance for simultaneous Instrument Landing System (ILS) approaches to parallel runways. The change from 5,000 feet to 4,300 feet allowed certain airports to add parallel runways when needed to handle increasing traffic.

Nov 13, 1974: In an action to reduce the bird hazard to aviation, FAA announced guidelines aimed at banning garbage dumps or sanitary landfills within 10,000 ft. of runways used by turbojets and 5,000 ft. of those used by piston-engine aircraft. FAA personnel were instructed to inform airport operators that dumps or landfills closer than these limits should be closed. Those that could not be closed within a reasonable period of time should be operated under guidelines prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Health, Education and Welfare, to minimize their attractiveness to birds.

Dec 1, 1974: A Northwest Airlines Boeing 727 crashed near Thiells, N.Y., killing all three persons aboard. Icing had blocked the aircraft’s pitot heads, causing erroneous air speed and Mach readings that contributed to a low-speed stall. On Mar 13, 1978, FAA published a rule requiring the installation within three years of a pitot heat indication system in all transport category aircraft having flight instrument pitot heating systems, and making such an indication system a type certification requirement for such aircraft.

Military Operations Areas (MOA) are delineated on VFR charts

May 9, 1975: FAA announced the beginning of a new airspace program to better delineate areas of military training activities. As of Jul 1, when requested by the military, the FAA began establishing Military Operations Areas (MOAs) for conducting such military flight activities such as familiarization training, intercept practice, and air combat maneuvers. FAA Flight Service Stations in the vicinity would inform visual flight rules (VFR) pilots when a given MOA was to be used for military purposes and how to traverse or circumnavigate it safely. Properly instructed VFR aircraft operated within an active MOA without special restrictions, while instrument flight rules (IFR) aircraft were afforded appropriate separation service.

May 29, 1975: Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, Jr., announced that FAA’s National Aeronautical Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC) would remain at Atlantic City, N.J. Earlier, on Jan 15, 1974, a study team had recommended that NAFEC be combined with the Aeronautical Center at Oklahoma City.

Jun 1975: FAA received the first of the new ASR-8 airport surveillance radars. Features of the ASR-8 included a dual beam for expanded low-level coverage and a klystron transmitter tube that increased power output.

Nov 1, 1975: New procedures went into effect requiring air traffic controllers to provide an extra mile of separation between small aircraft landing behind large and heavy aircraft capable of generating hazardous wake turbulence. Reflecting the findings of two special studies, the new procedures required that small aircraft be separated by 4 miles when landing behind large aircraft and by 6 miles when landing behind heavy aircraft. The "small" aircraft category (12,500 lbs. or less) included most of the country’s air taxis and general aviation aircraft. The "large" category (12,500-300,000 lbs.) included certain business aircraft such as the Sabreliner and Jetstar, the smaller DC-8s and Boeing 707s, and the Boeing 727 and 737.

Jan 21, 1976: British Airways and Air France began the world’s first scheduled supersonic passenger service (see Dec 26, 1975) with simultaneous takeoffs of Anglo-French Concorde SST aircraft from London and Paris for flights to Bahrain and Rio de Janeiro. The London-Bahrain flight, normally 6 hours 30 minutes by subsonic jet, took 4 hours 10 minutes. The Paris-Rio flight, scheduled to take 7 hours 5 minutes (compared with a subsonic time of 11 hours 10 minutes), arrived 40 minutes late.

Lockheed SR-71A "Blackbird"
Five-letter airway intersection and waypoint identifiers on enroute aeronautical charts

Jul 28, 1976: Capt. Eldon W. Joersz, USAF, piloted a Lockheed SR-71A "Blackbird" at 2,193.16 mph near Beale Air Force Base, Calif., setting a Federation Aeronautique Internationale absolute world record for speed over a straight course.

Oct 1, 1976: Fiscal year 1977 began for the Federal government. This was the first Federal fiscal year to begin on Oct 1 instead of Jul 1. Fiscal 1976 had ended on Jun 30, 1976, and the following three months had been designated a transition quarter.

Dec 10, 1976: FAA announced completion of the conversion of the airway intersection and waypoint identifiers on enroute aeronautical charts to five-letter code names specifically designed for use in the filing of computerized flight plans. Under the old system, pilots had listed the identifier using a geographic name based on a nearby terrain feature or town, making it necessary for persons receiving the flight plan to change the name to a computer code--a task that took time and greatly increased the chance for coding error. On the same date, FAA also announced a similar program to convert the fix names on approach and departure charts within the next 2 to 3 years.

FAA permitted pilots to wear contact lenses in the cockpit

Dec 21, 1976: FAA deemed contact lenses permissible to meet the distance visual acuity requirements for all classes of airman medical certificates, by a rule effective this date. Previous FAA regulations governing medical certification had allowed for visual correction by eye glasses only, with exceptions being made under a time-consuming waiver process. The new rule eliminated the waiver procedure. It did not affect the eye glass requirement for correcting near visual acuity.

In celebration of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center’s 75th Anniversary, we have prepared some trivia questions that will be featured monthly in each newsletter. Click here to participate in the November session.

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