Little Bits of History

June 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 27, 2017

1971: Fillmore East closes. Wulf Wolodia Grajonca was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany. The family had emigrated from Russia before the rise of the Nazis and Wulf’s father died two days after his only son’s birth. Because of rising animosity toward Jews in Germany, his mother put him and one sister into an orphanage. They were able to get to France in an exchange of Christian children for Jewish children. France fell to Germany but Wulf was able to be snuck out of France and was brought to America. He was one of the One Thousand Children – mostly Jewish children who were able to escape Hitler’s European Holocaust. Wulf’s mother died at Auschwitz but four of his sisters survived. His youngest sister died during the trip to flee France and never reached the US.

Wulf was placed in a foster home in the Bronx and changed his name to Bill Graham, lost his German accent, and tried to assimilate against taunts of being a Nazi because of his German accent. He graduated from City College as an “efficiency expert”. He was drafted into the US Army and served in the Korean War, winning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. After discharge, he went to work in the Catskill Mountain resorts during their heyday. Here he learned the skills needed for his life’s career, that of rock star promoter. He left New York and moved to San Francisco and organized his first concert, a benefit to help another artist who had been arrested on obscenity charges. He was on his way to promoting ever bigger names and opening venues in which to host concerts.

He opened his venue in the west, but eventually moved back “home” to New York City. A theater at 105 Second Avenue was originally built as a Yiddish theater in 1925. It went through several iterations in the next half century. Graham took it over in 1967 when the building was in disrepair with a small marquee and façade hiding the seating capacity of nearly  2,700. He named it Fillmore East, a compliment to his existing Fillmore in San Francisco. It opened on March 8, 1968 and was quickly a hot spot, called The Church of Rock and Roll. He often had two show, triple bill concerts several nights a week with acts alternating between the two coasts.

Because the acoustics were excellent, many top acts used Fillmore East to record live albums. The Allman Brothers recorded three albums as did Miles Davis and the Jefferson Airplane, while the Grateful Dead recorded four. Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon and Yoko Ono each recorded live there once along with a host of other bands. The music industry was changing and there was large growth in the concert industry so Graham closed his East venue on this day with a stellar performance by several big names. He was one of the biggest rock promoters in the business and died in a helicopter crash, returning from a Huey Lewis and the News concert in 1991 at the age of 60. His legacy continues at part of Live Nation, run by former employees and his sons.

Rock and roll is here to stay. – Neil Young

You see, rock and roll isn’t a career or hobby – it’s a life force. It’s something very essential. – The Edge

Music, Rock and Roll music especially, is such a generational thing. Each generation must have their own music, I had my own in my generation, you have yours, everyone I know has their own generation. – Ronnie James Dio

The ’60s are gone, dope will never be as cheap, sex never as free, and the rock and roll never as great. – Abbie Hoffman

June 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 26, 2017

1974: A Universal Product Code (UPC) is scanned at a retail outlet. A UPC is barcode symbology used in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, throughout Europe, and some other countries. It is used for tracking trade items in stores. It is actually UPC-A and is a 12 digit code uniquely assigned to each trade item. European Article Number (EAN) aka International Article Number uses the same methodology. Both are overseen by the GS1 headquartered in Brussels, Belgium and Princeton, New Jersey. The standards allow for point of sale automation and are being broadened into other areas as well, such as pricing for health care.

Wallace Flint first proposed an automated system in 1932 which used punch cards. This method was even patented in 1949. It did not catch on. In the 1960s the railroads attempted another multicolor barcode system to track rail cars, but this was also abandoned. A group of grocery industry trade associations formed the Uniform Grocery Product Code Council  (today GS1-US) and partnered with Larry Russell and Tom Wilson to define the numerical format to be used. They partnered with several different technology firms who also offered opinions on the best way to code products. The Symbol Selection Committee chose a version which included readability for humans. Today, GS1-US has over 300,000 members from 25 different industries using the UPC system.

In late 1969, IBM assigned George Laurer to figure out how to make a supermarket scanner and label. Finding the right characters per inch took time and problems with ink spread were also an issue. Too much or too little ink caused errors. RCA was also working on the issue and developed numbers to be scanned with a straight line laser scanner, but readability was too large. The problem attracted scientists from around the world and a race to make a workable system ensued. Moving away from a circular bull’s eye type arrangement to a linear arrangement with different lines and numbers helped solve the problem. The solution was found and implementation was the next big hurdle.

Product manufactures need to procure a unique number for each of their products. Global standards allow for maintaining the uniqueness of each UPC code. Product packaging then had to be created to include the code so scanners would be able to use computers to look up the product and assign the pricing to the register. On this day, Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio began scanning groceries. The first product (from the entire shopping cart) to be scanned was a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum which rang up at 67 cents. Clyde Dawson was the customer and Sharon Buchanan was the cashier who began the sale at 8.01 AM. The gum went on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Ever consider what pets must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul – chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth! – Anne Tyler

The biggest thing you can do is understand that every time you’re going to the grocery store, you’re voting with your dollars. Support your farmers’ market. Support local food. Really learn to cook. – Alice Waters

I’m a terrible grocery shopper. I hardly ever do it. And if I do, there’s never more than three things in the bag. – Seth Meyers

You’ve got bad eating habits if you use a grocery cart in 7-Eleven. – Dennis Miller

June 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 25, 2017

1900: Wang Yuanlu discovers the Dunhuang manuscripts. The manuscripts covered a variety of topics, both religious and secular and covered history, mathematics, folk songs and even dances. The religious documents are mainly Buddhist but cover other religions as well including Daoism, Nestorian Christianity, and Manichaeism. Most of the documents are written in Chinese, but several other languages are also included. The Daoist monk located the cache in a sealed cave which was part of the Mogao Caves also called the Thousand Buddha Grottoes. They form a system of 492 temples along a 16 mile stretch of what was once an important cultural center along the Silk Road in the Gansu province of China.

Between 1907 and 1910, Yuanlu sold many of the manuscripts, mostly to Aurel Stein (Hungarian/British) and Paul Pelliot (French) but also to Japanese, Russian, and Danish explorers. Chinese scholar Luo Zhenyo managed to get many of the manuscripts (about 20%) into the hands of Beijing historians and they are not in the National Library of China. Several thousand works were left in Dunhuang and are located in many of the museums of the region. Most the manuscripts purchased by foreigners are now in institutions located around the world. Today, they are being digitized by the International Dunhuang Project and can be freely accessed online.

On this day, Yuanlu was working at restoration of statues and paintings in what we know today as Cave 16. While working, he noticed a hidden door which opened into another cave, today called Cave 17 or Library Cave. Once the seal was broken, he found a room filled with thousands of ancient manuscripts dating from  the 5th to the early 11th centuries. Many of them related to early Chinese Buddhism. He went to local authorities in an attempt to fund their conservation. The officials ordered the cave to be resealed until the documents could be transported out for further study. Instead, he sold many of the works at way below their value, for which he is both “revered and reviled”.

The manuscripts have been studied and some of these studies are to determine the provenance of the documents themselves. There have been many speculations as to why the room was sealed in the first place. Stein suggested they were “sacred waste” and this protected them. It has also been suggested that Cave 17 was simply a Buddhist storeroom in a monastic library. The works may have been hidden away as advancing armies, either Xixia or Muslim, were approaching and the monks wished to preserve the bountiful history. A final theory is simply that the librarians ran out of room and sealed a full space. Research continues and a clearer picture of the life and times of locals and visitors are available for study.

The question of manuscript changes is very important for literary criticism, the psychology of creation and other aspects of the study of literature. – Umberto Eco

If you look at an illuminated manuscript, even today, it just blows your mind. For them, without all the clutter and inputs that we have, it must have been even more extraordinary. – Geraldine Brooks

I can tell from about 20 yards away when someone has a manuscript for me. I can just tell – they have that look. – Mark Leyner

Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts – the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. – John Ruskin

June 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2017

1717: The Premier Grand Lodge of England is founded. Initially it was called the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster. Guiding principles were and remain the ideal of tolerance and understanding brought about by the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution of the 1600s. George I, the first Hanoverian King of England had recently come to power and the first Jacobite insurrection had been quashed. The men of London were inspired to create a space where knowledge and craftsmanship were appreciated. Four lodges had previously held meetings and each was known for the location in which they met. On this day, the four separate lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul’s Churchyard in London and created the Grand Lodge.

Their first order of business was to arrange when to meet again and to choose a Grand Master from among those present. In the early days of the Lodge, there was probably little grandeur to be had. Anthony Sayer was the first Grand Master and little is known of him. He was replaced by George Payne who held a high government position in the Exchequer. He was both the second and fourth Grand Master with John Theophilus Desaguliers holding the position in between, he was a scientist, clergyman, and one of Isaac Newton’s students. After this, all Grand Masters held a position in the nobility.

George Payne wrote the General Regulations of a Free Mason as his own project for himself. Within a few years, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons was penned and held the history, rules and regulations, and an updated constitution about the “most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity”. Not even all of London let alone the rest of the world was impressed with the London Lodge and conflict built up over time. Two major factions were on the rise within the movement and it wasn’t until nearly the end of the century some measure of cohesiveness could be maintained.

The Freemasons were established as fraternal organizations of stonemasons beginning in the 14th century. They helped regulated the qualifications of the craftsmen and their interactions with authorities and with clients. Even now, the degrees maintain the three grades of medieval craft guilds with Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Mason. The basic organizational unit of Freemasonry is the Lodge and these are governed at the regional level (state, province, or nation) by a Grand Lodge. There is no international or worldwide Grand Lodge. Regular Freemasonry today demands members believe in a Deity and no women are admitted while there is no discussion or politics or religion included. Continental Freemasonry is more “liberal” and some or all of these restrictions have been abandoned.

Man’s action are the picture book of his creeds. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form. – Ande Maurois

The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream. – Harry Kemp

The Society or Fraternity of Freemasons is more in the nature of a system of Philosophy or of moral and social virtues taught by symbols, allegories, and lectures based upon fundamental truths, the observance of which tends to promote stability of character, conservatism, morality and good citizenship. – H. W. Coil

June 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 23, 2017

1960: Mestranol/norethynodrel (trade name Enovid [US] and Enavid [UK]) is approved for use as a contraceptive. Mestranol is a synthetic, steroidal estrogen and norethynodrel is a steroidal progestin making this the first combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) to be approved. Enovid was first approved on June 10, 1957 but only for treatment of menstrual disorders. It wasn’t until this day it got its new designation. It took until 1961 to be approved in Canada and the United Kingdom. Today, there are still COCPs available, but the brand was discontinued in 1988 along with most other first generation high estrogen COCPs.

COCPs, familiarly known as The Pill, are taken daily in order to inhibit female fertility and are reversible. They are used around the world with more than 100 million women using this form of birth control and about 12 million of them live in the US. It is the most widely used form of birth control in the US for women between the ages of 15 and 44. Use varies by age, education, marital status, and country. In the UK, about 34% of women 16-49 use COCPs or progestogen-only pills while in Japan, only about 1% use this method. If used perfectly, there is about a 0.3% chance of pregnancy in the first year, but when seen as regular usage the pregnancy rate increased to 9% with these being attributed to poor instructions, mistakes of the user, or willful misuse or non-compliance.

The history of birth control is tightly entwined with the history of abortion. Both have been well documented in ancient history from Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. The Ebers Papyrus from 1550 BC and the Kahun Papyrus from 1850 BC both list various ways to prevent pregnancy. Honey, acacia leaves, and lint were inserted into the vagina to prevent sperm from traveling. The older papyrus also included a description of a pessary (akin to a diaphragm) using acacia gum, which recent research has found to have spermatocidal qualities and is still used in some contraceptive jellies. The ancient texts also recommend covering the cervix with gummy substances and suggested lactation as a method of birth control. Coitus interruptus was mentioned in the Bible. Other regions of the world also found different plants to be helpful in slowing sperm.

Barrier methods improved with time but it wasn’t until the 20th century that use became more routine. Early condoms were made of a variety of materials, some better at slowing the spread of disease more than as actual birth control. Intrauterine devices also were on the market, but they have a higher rate of side effects and do nothing to stop the spread of disease. There has always been the option of not engaging in reproductive activities, either while it was assumed one was fertile or even eschewing sexual relations altogether. All the above methods are reversible without issue. Sterilization is also available. They are not readily reversible. Tubal ligations for women have been available since 1930 and vasectomy for men has been available since 1899 with first experimentation tried in 1785.

The only remedy against hunger is reasonable birth control. – Friedrich Durrenmatt

I do not want to speak about overpopulation or birth control, but I think education is the way to give new impetus to the poverty question. – Harri Holkeri

I always joke with people that having nephews is the best birth control there is. – Tahj Mowry

We have access to practical, ethical and scientifically established methods of birth control. So I think that is the most ethical way to reduce our population. – Christian de Duve

June 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2017

1944: The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act is signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  After World War I, servicemen returning to the United States were supposed to have benefits available to them as gratitude for their service. However, things did not go smoothly and it became a political issue throughout the 1920s and 1930s. As benefits to all veterans of military service, both men and women, were delayed, those veterans formed into Veterans’ organizations with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion as the two main pillars seeking redress from Washington, D.C. When World War II came along, knowing the dismal record of taking care of veterans, the older generation set out to ensure the Greatest Generation would be properly cared for should they return home.

Harry Comery, former National Commander of the American Legion, has been credited with writing the first draft of what we call today the GI Bill. Senator Ernest McFarland (D-Arizona) was helped by Warren Atherton, a lawyer and then-current National Commander of the Legion, and they are considered to be the “fathers of the GI Bill”. Congresswoman Edith Rogers (R-Massachusetts) was co-sponsor and she was the “mother of the GI Bill”. These four people helped to write and get the bill through both houses of Congress. Roosevelt had proposed a bill as a test to help poor veterans returning home and he sought to limit that help to just one year of funding. Only top scorers on a test would get four years of paid college.

The Bill as presented went beyond Roosevelt’s plan and applied to all veterans regardless of wealth. They were to be offered a low interest, zero down payment home loan with better deals available for new construction rather than older homes. This had the effect of spurring many returning veterans to move out of urban apartments into newly built homes in the suburbs. Unemployment benefits were to be paid out for those actively looking for work for up to 52 weeks. Monies set aside for this went unused as many returning servicemen were able to find better jobs or were pursuing higher education upon their return. This was also covered under the Bill. High school, college, and vocational/technical schools were all covered.

By 1956, about 2.2 million returning vets had used the Bill to attend college or university while another 5.6 million vets were able to gain further training for better employment opportunities. The law has been updated several times over the years. Vietnam veterans were even more willing to use the Bill to finance college (71%) when compared to World War II vets (51%) and Korean War vets (43%). A 1952 adjustment began to send tuition help directly to veterans since it was discovered colleges and universities were overcharging veterans to acquire more cash. President Obama also signed Executive Order 13607 to ensure predatory colleges did not aggressively target veterans and their families to exploit this law designed to help veterans re-assimilate into civilian society.

Twenty-five million veterans are living among us today. These men and women selflessly set aside their civilian lives to put on the uniform and serve us. – Steve Buyer

I want people to take the initiative to find veterans that need help, veterans that are suffering and in need of assistance reintegrating from combat back into society, into normal family lives and jobs. We need to take a real ‘boots on the ground’ approach to helping veterans in need. – Max Martini

The sacrifices made by veterans and their willingness to fight in defense of our nation merit our deep respect and praise – and to the best in benefits and medical care. – Sue Kelly

When the peace treaty is signed, the war isn’t over for the veterans, or the family. It’s just starting. – Karl Marlantes

June 21

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 21, 2017

1621: The Old Town Square executions take place in Prague. A Protestant uprising of the Bohemian estates against the Catholic Hapsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire resulted in the Thirty Years’ War. Begun in central Europe in 1618 as a clash among religiously aligned countries, it continued on to become one of the most destructive conflicts in European history involving most of the continent as well as allies outside Europe with 8 million casualties, it was the deadliest European religious war. As the Holy Roman Empire fragmented, leaders of smaller state/nations brought in mercenaries to help them gain independence from both France and the Holy Roman Empire.

The Bohemian estates were Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and Upper and Lower Lusatia. They would eventually become Czechoslovakia, Saxony, and Prussia and today they are parts of Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Poland. The Battle of White Mountain, fought on November 8, 1620 pitted the Bohemians against the Holy Roman Empire with help from Spain and the Catholic League. The 15,000 strong Bohemian force was overwhelmed by the 27,000 soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire and allies. The armies met outside Prague and the Bohemian forces were quashed. The loss would affect the Czech lands for the next 300 years. They had been predominantly Protestant prior to the war, and were predominantly Catholic into the 20th century.

The Bohemian portion of the war was essentially over with the loss. On this day, 27 Czech leaders were executed in the town square. Jindřich Matyáš Thurn managed to escape into exile in Sweden where he became a leader and diplomat in the continued resistance to Ferdinand II. Martin Fruwein z Podolí was expected to be executed as well, but died before he could be killed. The 27 men were three noblemen, seven knights, and 17 burghers. Some other leaders of the uprising were able to escape and others had their punishments reduced or were pardoned. Today, there is a monument in the square holding 27 crosses to commemorate the men killed here.

While this portion of the War may have ended, the conflict remained as Ferdinand II tried impose religious uniformity among the lands under his control. The outside world was appalled by Ferdinand’s treatment of Bohemians and atrocities committed during the period. Other countries entered the fray with Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden transforming Ferdinand’s wish for religious unity under the Catholic Church into a full scale war. Six days short of thirty years after the beginning of the fighting, with about 8 million dead, the Hapsburg regime was curtailed, Protestants were free to practice, feudalism throughout Europe was in decline, and the Swedish Empire was on the rise.

Love has its place, as does hate. Peace has its place, as does war. Mercy has its place, as do cruelty and revenge. – Meir Kahane

I love it when Muslims go to war with each other, as I do when the Christians do, because it shows there’s no such thing as the Christian world and the Islamic world. That’s all crap. – Christopher Hitchens

Alas, nothing reveals man the way war does. Nothing so accentuates in him the beauty and ugliness, the intelligence and foolishness, the brutishness and humanity, the courage and cowardice, the enigma. – Oriana Fallaci

A society that admits misery, a humanity that admits war, seem to me an inferior society and a debased humanity; it is a higher society and a more elevated humanity at which I am aiming – a society without kings, a humanity without barriers. – Victor Hugo

June 20

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 20, 2017

1631: The Sack of Baltimore is carried out. Baltimore lies in County Cork in Ireland and is the southernmost parish in the country. The English were in control of Ireland at the time and Sir Thomas Crooke, 1st Baronet was given permission from King James I to establish a center there in 1605. The lands were leased from Sir Fineen O’Driscoll, head of the O’Driscoll clan. Baltimre had an established, lucrative sardine fishery and was a pirate base. It was said all the women of Baltimore were either the wives or mistresses of pirates and when the English took over, not much changed.

A raid was spearheaded by the Dutch captain, Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, also called Murad Reis the Younger. He was joined by other Dutchmen, Moroccans, Algerians, and Ottoman Turks working the slave trade. The attack on this day remains the largest by Barbary pirates in either Ireland or Great Britain. Murad’s crew captured a fishing boat and coerced Hackett, the fisherman, to lead them stealthily into the village upon which time he would be granted his freedom. Hackett led the armed pirates in and they then captured most of the villagers. There were at least 108 English settlers taken with 237 given from another source. Most of the local people were taken away as well. The captured people were taken away to be sold into slavery in North Africa.

There are some theories about the day’s event. It has been suggested that Sir Walter Coppinger, a Catholic lawyer and member of a leading Cork family was vying for control of the lucrative assets of the village. Coppinger had become the dominant British power in the region after the death of Cooke. However, the O’Driscoll family was still in nominal control of the money being paid for the use of their fisheries. Coppinger wished to gain complete control of the village, the fishery, and the farming done by English settlers. Another possible reason for the attack was the exiling of the O’Driscoll family with many of them having gone to Spain after the Battle of Kinsale (1601-1602). With little hope of legally retaining their control over Baltimore from abroad, they may have orchestrated the raid to thwart Coppinger. Or perhaps, Murad thought it up all by himself.

It should be noted that there were rumors of a Barbary pirate attack on the Cork coast but it was thought Kinsale was a more likely target than Baltimore. In the wake of the attack, Hackett was seized by the remaining villagers who hung him. They then scattered and Baltimore was deserted for generations. Most of the captured were relegated to becoming galley slaves and rowed pirate ships for others until they died. More were placed as domestic slaves or laborers. Three of the captured were returned to Ireland via ransoms paid; one almost at once and two more were ransomed in 1646.

Life’s pretty good, and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all. – Johnny Depp

I don’t really know much about pirates, or pirate culture. I’d be a contrarian pirate. – Todd Barry

If ye can’t trust a pirate, ye damn well can’t trust a merchant either! – unknown

Even pirates, before they attack another ship, hoist a black flag. – Bela Kiraly

June 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 19, 2017

1913: The Natives Land Act is given Royal Assent. Also called Act No. 27 of 1913, it was aimed at regulating the acquisition of land enacted by the Parliament of South Africa. When the British landed at Cape of Good Hope they began their colonization expansion by setting up their own government in the land. The Queen granted the Cape its first Parliament in 1853 and they created a government in which all males were given the same considerations, regardless of race. Women were still second class citizens, also regardless of race. In 1872, a new Parliament with new laws entered the picture and all males were still given the franchise if they could pay the £25 fee. This was available to most males owning land. Time moved on and whites began to become the majority holders of all lands while Natives were stripped of both lands and franchise.

In 1910, South Africa united and became the southernmost country in Africa. It was governed still by the British Empire and the population was mostly black, although 90% of the land was now owned by whites. The Natives Land Act instituted the policy that land could neither be bought or sold to members of another race. Included in the law was a prohibition against serfdom or sharecropping but it protected existing agreements or arrangements whereby land could be hired or leased at will. The law was able to protect African chiefs and their communal landholdings. Included in the Act, no longer would black tenant farming on white-owned land be permitted. The devastating effects of this last part were not immediate, but they were long-lasting.

The law was implemented on June 19, 1913 and blacks were essentially stripped of the right to own land. Chiefs were able to retain lands, but since whites already owned most of the land, blacks were forced into wage labor market. This Act was a cornerstone of the racial segregation and discrimination that ruled South Africa. Apartheid was institutionalized with more laws stripping natives of their lands, their rights, and any say in their government. It took decades before the systematic degradations afforded to people daring to live in their own lands were repealed. Apartheid is an Afrikaans word literally meaning “apart-hood” or the state of being apart or separate.

Opposition to this Act was minimal, but vocal. John Dube, a newspaperman, used his platform to bring the issue to the public. The black leader supported whites who had created an environment where white leaders returned at least some of the land to the native populations so they might live and thrive. The minister at the time was a Cape Liberal who opposed the disenfranchisement of blacks but was perfectly fine with separate residential areas for Whites and Natives. Apartheid would eventually fall, but much was lost during the years of separation and the years of struggle to return South Africa to a desegregated state.

Together we have travelled a long road to be where we are today. This has been a road of struggle against colonial and apartheid oppression. – Thabo Mbeki

I played an integral part in helpings formulating that new vision… that we must abandon apartheid and accept one united South Africa with equal rights for all, with all forms of discrimination to be scrapped from the statute book. – F. W. de Klerk

Apartheid – both petty and grand – is obviously evil. Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority. – Steven Biko

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. – Nelson Mandela

June 18

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 18, 2017

1972: British European Airways (BEA) Flight 548 goes into a deep stall. BEA was founded in 1948 and flew from the United Kingdom to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. They were also the largest domestic UK operator with hubs in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Belfast. They were formed after World War II when restrictions on civil flying were lifted. They operated independently until 1974 when they merged with British Overseas Airways Corporation to form British Airways. On this day, the plane was a Hawker Siddeley HS 121 Trident (originally the de Havilland DH 121) which was typically used for short or medium-range flights. It was the first T-tail three-engined jet and 117 of them were built for BEA.

The incident took place amid turbulence caused by an impending pilots’ strike which caused disruptions among the crew members. A postal ballot was being held and because of the possible strike, Flight 548 was loaded to maximum capacity. Part of the issue was pay increases, which younger pilots needed, but older pilots did not. Twenty-two of the lower paid co-pilots were already out on strike and even more junior help was placed into a higher demand position in order to keep flights moving. Captain Stanley Key had complained just three days prior how useless the inexperienced and recently promoted co-pilots were. Because of tensions in the cockpit, even more errors were made and while experienced pilots could compensate for the errors, given enough time, it was part of the issues pilots had with the company.

Key was an experienced pilot, aged 51 and with 15,000 hours flying time including 4,000 hours on this particular plane type. Jeremy Keighley was co-pilot, aged 22 with six weeks of employment with the company and just 29 hours experience in the co-pilot position. Simon Ticehurst, aged 24, was the P3 crew member with 1,400 hours of flying time including 750 on Tridents. There were three more crew members and 112 passengers on the flight which left Heathrow Airport on its way to Brussels. Just three minutes before takeoff, three other people needed to fly a plane back from Brussels were boarded, which necessitated the removal of some cargo because of weight restrictions. The doors were locked and 4.03 PM the plane was given permission to taxi and three minutes later they were given departure clearance.

One minute later, with clearance given a second time, Key was permitted to take off into the stormy skies full of turbulence and low cloud cover. At 4.08.30 they began to taxi and were in the skies 44 seconds later. The cloud cover was so low, there was little visibility and at 114 seconds into the flight, mechanical procedures began, which needed more altitude to be done correctly. Within two seconds the plane went into a deep stall. With no time to correct the problem and the plane crashed precisely at 4.11 PM just missing a busy London road. All aboard were killed. The crash was investigated under a media circus atmosphere. The end result was a new rule necessitating planes now carry cockpit voice recorders.

We were out with the dog and I looked up and saw the plane.

It was just coming out of the mist when the engines stalled and it seemed it glided down. It was just like a dream. The plane just fell out of the sky.

We just about saw it hit the ground … because it was right in a clump of trees.

When it did hit the ground the front bit hit first and the back bit was just blown away. – all from Trevor Burke, eyewitness aged 13