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What Was Happening In 1974 – The Year The F-16 Debuted

Photo by Jim Mumaw
Photo by Jim Mumaw
Photo by Jim Mumaw

The F-16, one of the most popular and versatile military jets to take to the skies, made its debut 40 years ago. The plane is so popular it even has two nicknames – the Fighting Falcon and the Viper.

According to F-16.net, the first test flight of the YF-16 occurred on Feb. 2, 1974. Test pilot Phil Oestricher was at the controls and plane reached 30,000 and achieved 400 mph.

As we revisit that milestone, here are some other interesting facts from what was going on four decades ago.

  • President Richard Nixon was still in office but was embroiled in the Watergate scandal. He was six months from becoming the first president to resign from office.
  • A gallon of gas cost 55 cents (so, yeah, gas is cheap now but not as cheap as it was in those days).
  • The average income was $13,900, the average monthly rent was $185 and the average cost of a new car was $3,750.
  • On Feb. 4, heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.
  • Two aviation events occurred early in 1974. After a record 84 days orbiting the Earth, the crew of Skylab4 returned from space on Feb. 8. And on March 8, Charles de Gaulle Airport opened in Paris.
  • The No. 1 song was Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” from the movie of the same name.
  • CBS’ “All In The Family” was the top-rated show according to Nielsen.
  • The Academy Awards were presented in April with “The Sting” taking best picture, Jack Lemmon winning best actor for “Save The Tiger” and Glenda Jackson taking best actress for “A Touch Of Class.”

Video by Lockheed Martin:

Written by Wendell Barnhouse

Wendell Barnhouse is a veteran journalist with over 40 years of experience as a writer and an editor. For the last 30 years, he wrote about college sports but he has had an interest and curiosity about aviation since he was in grade school.