DALLAS – Today in Aviation, King Hussein flew his royal aircraft across Israeli airspace, marking the first time that a Jordanian airplane had ever flown over Israeli airspace.
In the midst of a Middle East peace process in 1994, King Hussein of Jordan flew his royal aircraft across Israeli airspace. The flight opened the door for a free flow of general aviation traffic between Israel and Jordan.
The king flew over Israel for roughly 25 minutes while being escorted by two Israeli jet fighters. During that time, he had a five-minute radio conversation about peace with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
King Hussein circled Jerusalem from a height of 1,000 feet in his Lockheed L-1011 Tristar while traveling from London to Amman. No flights to/from Amman operated by Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) had landed in Israel but were allowed to fly over it.
The flight took place on a day when relations between Israel and Jordan were rapidly changing. In order to establish a passage close to their southern Red Sea resorts, teams from both nations started hacking down the border fence.
No aircraft, military or civilian, had been permitted to take off from one of these nations and land in the other since the establishment of Israel in 1948. Overflights over Israel had been permitted from time to time.
The flight was one of those rare occasions when, as Barry Schiff, an American pilot and author of more than 1,800 articles published in 111 aviation magazines, says about a later flight (Operation Peace Flight) between the neighboring countries, “Although politics can transcend geography, the love of flight can transcend both.”
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Featured image: A Minnesota Air National Guard F-16A Fighting Falcon escorts Royal Jordanian 1, the aircraft of His Majesty King Hussein I, of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Photo: DoD photo by Maj. Gerald R. Ostern, Minnesota Air National Guard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons