Little Bits of History

May 17

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 17, 2017

1521: Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed. Edward was born in 1478 into a family with aristocratic ties and was the nephew of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV. As the eldest son of the second duke, he stood to gain the title. His father participated in a rebellion against King Richard III and was charged with treason. The second duke was beheaded without trial on November 2, 1483. At that point, all the family’s honors were forfeit. Edward remained hidden during the rebellion and possibly for the rest of Richard’s reign. When King Henry VII defeated Richard III at Bosworth in 1485, Edward was returned to his aristocratic holdings. He was able to attend Henry’s coronation as a Duke. The seven year old was given to Margaret Beaufort, the King’s mother, to raise.

Edward was educated and trained in various royal households and became a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1495. At the age of 19, he was a captain in the forces sent out to maintain order in Cornwall after a rebellion started there. He was known as a fancy dresser at court and at Prince Arthur’s wedding, is said to have worn an outfit costing £1500. He was also the chief challenger at the tournament the following day. Edward was part of the coronation ceremony for King Henry VIII and was part of his Privy Council. Edward received permission from his friend/king to rebuild the family manor house in the style of a massive crenellated castle. Edward served his King in both military and home endeavors.

Edward was one of just a few peers with substantial Plantagenet blood and had ties to much of the upper aristocracy. Because of these ties, Henry began to have his doubts and in 1520 the King ordered Edward to be investigated for possible treasonous actions. The King personally interviewed witnesses to gather information for a trial. The Duke was summoned to the court in April 1521 whereupon he was arrested and placed in the Tower. He was tried in front of a panel of 17 peers and was accused of listening to prophecies of the King’s death and intending to kill the King. Sir Thomas More complained that evidence supplied by servants were hearsay. This made no difference at the trial and Edward was found guilty.

He was executed on Tower Hill on this day. He was 43 years old. An Act of Parliament on July 31, 1523 stripped him of all his titles and family holdings as well as blocked the inheritance of any titles and holdings. John Guy, present day historian, concluded this was one of the rare executions of aristocrats in which the person was “almost certainly guilty”. Edward had four legitimate children. His son became 1st Baron Stafford and all three of his daughters married into aristocratic families, one marrying a duke, one an earl, and the last a baron. This three illegitimate children didn’t fare quite as well although Edward did manage to have his other daughter marry the half-brother of an earl.

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. – William Blake

It’s hard to tell who has your back, from who has it long enough just to stab you in it. – Nicole Richie

Betrayal is the only truth that sticks. – Arthur Miller

It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them. – Confucius

May 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 16, 2017

1891: The International Electrotechnical Exhibition opens in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The exhibition ran until October 19 on the sites of three former Western Railway Stations, located on the western outskirts of the city. The Elektrotechnische Gesellschaft (Electrotechnical Society) was founded in 1881 in Frankfurt with the goal of promoting electricity and research into uses for industry and technology. By 1884, ten manufacturers of electrical equipment had moved to the city and by 1890 some of the major players in the German power infrastructure had moved there. A “second industrial revolution” found roots in the city as new ideas were explored and electricity took over as the power source once held by steam engines.

Paris was host to a World Fair in 1889 and inspired Leopold Sonnermann to put forth the idea to the Electrotechnical Society to host their own exhibition. The issues at hand were twofold. The newly emerging markets for electricity needed to be explored and opportunities were abundant for further uses. A second concern was for Frankfurt itself. They were planning a new power station and the city’s political and technical leaders were unsure which type of power to produce. At the time there were three options: direct current, alternation current, and three-phase current. The exhibition would be the place for each type of power to demonstrate benefits and show why it was the most commercially viable.

Lauffen am Necker was about 110 miles away. They would produce three-phase current and transmit the high voltage power to Frankfurt with a minimal loss of 25%. The highlight of the exhibition was a three-section entrance gate with the center gate’s signage saying: Power Transmission Lauffen–Frankfurt 175 km (in German). The two side rectangles bore signs proclaimed Allgemeine Electricitätsgesellschaft (AEG – General Electricity Company) and Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (Oerlikon Engineering Works). The entire entrance was ablaze with 1000 light bulbs and that wasn’t all. Inside was an electrically powered waterfall to amaze the 1,200,000 visitors from around the world. The ticket to enter was 15 marks, about $200 today.

The exhibition was so successful, it helped Germany decide on the way to power itself. It found the most economical means of transmitting power to be the three-phase current and the Lauffen station continued operation after the event. Frankfurt went on to built its own power station nearby and a third private company built one in Bockenheim. The three-phase current is a type of polyphase system and is the most common method used by electrical grids worldwide. It is usually more economical than a single-phase for the same voltage because it uses less conductor material to move the same amount of power.

Invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain. The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs. – Nikola Tesla

Electricity for example was considered a very Satanic thing when it was first discovered and utilized. – Zeena Schreck

There is a force more powerful than steam and electricity: the will. – Fernán Caballero

Is it a fact – or have I dreamt it – that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time? – Nathaniel Hawthorne

May 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 15, 2017

1800: James Hadfield or Hatfield attempts an assassination. James was born in 1771 or 1772 and his early life remains a mystery. He served with the British Army at the Battle of Tourcoing in 1794, a part of the French Revolutionary Wars. James was captured by the French but not before sustaining eight saber wounds to the head. The scars remained prominent for the rest of his life. He was eventually able to return to England and joined the Millennialist Movement. The premise advanced by this group was that a major change in society could be hurried along by getting enough people (the thousand mentioned in the millennial portion of the name) to bring about beginning changes. James believed the Second Coming of Jesus Christ could be moved forward by assassinating members of the government.

He and Bannister Truelock plotted to kill King George III in order to bring peace to the world. On this day while the King was at the Theatre Royal, in Drury Lane, the national anthem was played. During the performance, James took a pistol out and fired on the King standing in the royal box. He missed completely. James was arrested and tried for high treason. His defense was led by Thomas Erskine, a famous lawyer of the day. A plea of insanity was submitted. At the time, to be considered legally insane, one had to be “incapable of forming a judgement upon the consequences of the act which he is about to do.” Since there was planning involved in the assassination attempt, this bar was not met.

The 1795 Treason Act held no distinction between plotting treason and actually committing it and by this reasoning, even though James missed his mark, he had committed treason. Erskine challenged the insanity test and insisted the delusional state, even if unaccompanied by “frenzy or raving madness” was true insanity. Two surgeons and a physician testified that James’s history of head trauma led to delusional thinking. Judge Lloyd Kenyon, 1st Baron Kenyon, acquitted James, but opined that returning him to his family was also not an option and he needed to be removed from society at large for his own sake as well as the safety of others.

Before this time, if a person was judged insane, he was simply returned home. The Criminal Lunatics Act 1800 was quickly passed and given royal assent on July 28, 1800. It established the procedure for indefinite detention of mentally ill offenders. James was sent to Bethlem Royal Hospital for the rest of his life. He briefly escaped and was recaptured as he tried to flee to France. He was held in Newgate Prison until being transferred to Bethlehem Hospital (aka Bedlam). He died there from tuberculosis in 1841, outliving his intended victim by 21 years. King George III also went insane, but was able to be cared for outside the hospital system.

The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept. – George Carlin

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. – Edgar Allan Poe

It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane. – Philip K. Dick

One person’s craziness is another person’s reality. – Tim Burton

May 14

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 14, 2017

1973: the United States launches Skylab. Before a space program was even begun, scientists and science fiction writers agreed on the need for a space station. A waypoint in near space from which other projects could be launched. The Department of Defense and NASA worked together and beginning in 1963 began to develop plans for a space station. The first of these was a small station which was to be used mainly for reconnaissance. Both entities were competing for the same funding and the project never was able to come to fruition. The Apollo project with the goal of landing a man on the Moon took precedence and that goal was achieved in 1969.

Partly to keep the 400,000 NASA workers employed and partly because a Space Station was a really good idea, a new project was proposed by Wernher von Braun in 1964. His design was much larger than the prior DoD and NASA project called for. More ideas came in and the design was upgraded. More launches took place, still trying to get mankind to the Moon. Plans had to be modified again. This time, the actual comfort of the humans who would be manning the space station were also considered. Due to the experience gathered for the Apollo flights, even the food would be better. Also in the plans was a possible need for rescue for stranded astronauts, should that become necessary.

On August 8, 1969 the McDonnell Douglas Corporation got the contract to convert two existing S-IVB stages of Saturn rockets into the Orbital Workshop configuration. The Orbital Workshop was renamed Skylab in February 1970. On this day, Skylab was launched but it was damaged during the event and lost the micrometeoroid shield/sun shade and one of the solar panels. Debris from the mishap pinned the other solar panel and prevented deployment. As soon as the launch took place, work on the Space Shuttle program was ramped up. There were three manned missions to Skylab (SL-2, SL-3, and SL-4) with the first taking place May 26 to June 22, 1973 and the last from November 16, 2973 to February 8, 1974. A fourth trip was cancelled.

Many important experiments were done by the three 3-man teams sent up to Skylab, along with many repairs to the craft itself. There was talk of reactivating Skylab after the Space Shuttles became operational, since having people already up there would free up Shuttle time. Skylab was set to reenter the atmosphere in nine years. As time ran out for the Space Station, the world began to show some concern for the re-entry process. The exact landing spot for the station was unknown but NASA figured the odds of any particular human being hit with debris was 1 in 600 million. This statistic stood alongside the one saying the odds of any human being hit was 1 in 152. Skylab landed back on Earth on July 11, 1979 about 300 miles southeast of Perth, Australia. No humans were hit.

By 1973, we had a space station, the Skylab, and we had multiple probes going up to planets. So, all this wonderful stuff happened in 10 to 15 years. About that time, there should have been enormous initiatives to make it affordable for people to fly in space, not just a handful of trained NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts. – Burt Rutan

When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people. – Frank Borman

It’s tiny out there…it’s inconsequential. It’s ironic that we had come to study the Moon and it was really discovering the Earth. – Bill Anders

Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the earth was, my god that little thing is so fragile out there. – Mike Collins



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May 13

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 13, 2017

1958: Ben Carlin arrives in Montreal. Frederick Benjamin Carlin was born in Australia in 1912. His mother died when he was four. He eventually became an engineer, like his father. He enlisted in the Indian Army during World War II as he had been living in China at the time. He worked in the Army Corps of Engineers. At the end of the war, he met a Red Cross nurse from America. Back in Maryland they were married in 1948. During the War, there were many amphibious vehicles used and one of the was Ford GPA (modified version of the Ford GPW Jeep) and one was found in an army vehicle lot. Carlin opined the thing could be used for a trip around the world, after a bit of modification. The idea stuck with him even after he married. He suggested they honeymoon by crossing the Atlantic in one of these vehicles. They didn’t.

Carlin did manage to buy a 1942 Ford GPA at a government auction and paid $901 for it. He tried to get Ford to sponsor his trip but they declined. Carlin added many features to the original craft and christened it Half-Safe. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Carlin attempted to make their first transatlantic crossing in 1948 leaving Montreal and made it only as far as New Jersey. They tried again a month later and had to return. More mechanical issues halted their third attempt. The fourth time they made it to Halifax, Nova Scotia. They gave up for a time while they made even more modifications. On July 19, 1950, they made their way from Halifax to Flores, the most western island of the Azores. And so they continued on their journey.

They made their way ever eastward and got through the Straits of Gibraltar and then brought their craft on land and drove through several European countries. They were forced to travel in fits and starts, partly because of funding issues and partly due to mechanical concerns. They were able to partially fund their journey with proceeds from the book Carlin wrote about their trip so far. Half Safe: Across the Atlantic in a Jeep sold about 32,000 copies and was translated into five languages. They drove and sailed and eventually made their way to Perth, Australia where Carlin was able to meet up with some of his family. Mrs. Carlin was tired of the journey and left her husband to finish alone.

He took off toward Asia and island hopped northwards. In Burma, Barry Hanley joined the trip and they made it as far as Japan before Hanley returned home. In Tokyo, Boyé Lafayette de Mente from Phoenix, Arizona joined the trip and they headed off to Alaska. They made it with some trouble and drove onward. De Mente left the trip and Carlin continued onward, now on land. He met his wife in San Francisco and then drove across the northern part of the US and on to Canada. He made it back to Montreal on this day after a trip covering 11,000 miles on sea and 62,000 miles on land. Carlin is the first and only person to circumnavigate the globe in an amphibious vehicle.

Don’t do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts. – Henry Rollins

Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death. – Omar N. Bradley

Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. – C. S. Lewis

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance. – Terry Pratchett

May 12

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 12, 2017

May 12

1932: The body of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. is found. Charles was born on June 22, 1930 to Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The world-famous aviator met the author and future aviatrix in Mexico City the same year he made his most famous flight. They were married in a private ceremony on May 27, 1929. They owned a house, Highfields, in a secluded area on Sourland Mountain. They purchased in this area in part to escape from their celebrity status. On March 1, 1932 the baby was put to bed by Betty Gow, the family nurse/nanny. At 9.30 PM, Charles, Sr. heard a noise as he was reading in the library, a room directly below the nursery. He did not investigate, believing the noise to have come from the kitchen.

At 10 PM, Gow discovered the crib empty and went to see if Anne had taken the baby. He was not there. Charles was alerted and ran to the nursery where he found a note on the windowsill. He picked up a gun and went outside to see if he could find his son. The police were called and they were on their way with the family lawyer and followed by a trail of reporters. Investigation turned up a tire print in mud, attributed to the kidnapper. In a bush outside the nursery window, three pieces of wood were found which were part of a homemade ladder, nicely designed but poorly crafted. Local police were aided by New Jersey State Police in the search of the home and the surrounding area.

Forensics wasn’t as sophisticated as today, so when a fingerprint analyst finally examined the ransom note and pieces of ladder, he found 400 partial fingerprints, all of them worthless due to the number of people who had handled the pieces of evidence. No adult fingerprints were found in the nursery even in areas where adults had admitted touching items. The baby’s prints were found. The ransom note itself was short and asked for $50,000. It was filled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors along with an odd drawing of interconnected blue circles with a red dot inside and three holes punched through the paper. News spread and yet the baby wasn’t found even with the entire country looking for him.

There was a $25,000 reward offered by New Jersey for the return of “Little Lindy” and the Lindberghs added another $50,000 of their own money for the safe return of their son. On March 6, a new ransom note arrived and asked for $70,000. More notes and evidence arrived. On April 2, $50,000 was handed over and a note was received saying the child was in the care of two innocent women. Little Lindy was not returned. On this day, a delivery truck pulled over to the side of the road about 4.5 miles from the Lindbergh house. He went into the woods to urinate and found the body of a toddler. Little Lindy was found. He had a badly fractured skull which was the cause of death and it was determined he had died shortly after his abduction.

One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.

The loneliness you get by the sea is personal and alive. It doesn’t subdue you and make you feel abject. It’s stimulating loneliness.

Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – like writing a poem or saying a prayer.

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair. – all from Anne Morrow Lindbergh



May 11

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 11, 2017

2014: The Stade Tata Raphael disaster takes place. The stadium was built in 1951 and known as the Stade Roi Baudouin or the King Baudouin Stadium. The name changed in 1967 when it was known as the Stade du 20 Mai or the 20 May Stadium. In 1997, the name again changed to Father Raphael Stadium. The 50,000 seat arena was located in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was the venue used for The Rumble in the Jungle when Muhammad Ali and George Foreman met to battle for the Heavyweight Boxing Championship in 1974. Despite this and the concert held before the big fight, the stadium was mostly used for association football, or as Americans call it, soccer.

On this day a soccer match was held with two Congolese teams playing. TP Mazembe (aka Tout Puissant Maxembe) formerly called Englebert, was the team from Lubumbashi. The team was founded in 1939 as FC Saint-Georges. It was founded by Benedictine monks where the goal was to diversify student activities. They won the 2009 CAF Champions League and were qualified to play in the FIFA Club World Cup that year. They have been CAF Champions five times and played at the FIFA World Cup twice, making it to the final round in 2010. Their crest has a crocodile holding a soccer ball in its mouth, but they are known as Les corbeaux or the ravens. Mazembe is one of the most successful teams in Africa.

Playing as the home team was AS Vita Club. Their full name is Association Sportive Vita Club and that is often abbreviated as AS Vita Club or even AS V Club. The team was founded in 1935 and named Renaissance but the name was changed in 1939 into Diables Rouges, in 1942 into Victoria Club, and in 1971 to the name used today. They have made it to the African Cup of Champions Club playoffs eight times and taken the title in six of those appearances. They made three appearances in the CAF Conference Cup, twice at the CAF Cup, and six times at the CAF Cup Winners’ Cup. In 2014 they were the runners up in African Cup, losing to ES Setif, a team from Algeria.

Today’s match had the teams playing when suddenly missiles were thrown down onto the field. The referee made the call to delay the game. This made an angry crowd even angrier. Police made the decisions to fire tear gas into the stands. Some people were blinded by the gas, others simply panicked. A stampede ensued and in the crush to escape the gas, a stadium wall collapsed. This furthered the chaos as well as added even more debris to the area. At least 15 people died, other counts give 18 as the death toll. Suffocation was the cause of death for most of the victims. At least another 24 people were seriously injured.

Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit. – Henry Adams

There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success. – Phil Knight

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. – Deepak Chopra

Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence. – Buddha

May 10

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 10, 2017

1768: John Wilkes is imprisoned in London. He was born in central London in 1727 to a distiller, the second of six children. He was able to receive an education at Hertford and then by private tutors. He eventually went to the University of Leinden in the Dutch Republic. He married in 1747 and came into the possession of an estate and its income. They had a daughter, but the marriage didn’t last. They divorced and Wilkes never married again, although he fathered at least five more children. He was elected a Fellow at the Royal Society and entered into politics, eventually holding a seat in the British Parliament. He was notoriously ugly and was called the ugliest man in England. He had charm and wit so this did not seem to slow him down much.

Wilkes was also a radical journalist. He began a newspaper called The North Briton in which he was able to lambast the political issues of the day. It was a direct response to a paper called The Briton, a pro-government sheet started by Tobias Smollett. The North Briton came out weekly and its most famous edition was Issue 45. Dated from April 23, 1763, the issue criticized King George III’s royal speech praising the Treaty of Paris and accusing the King of lying. The King felt personally insulted and Wilkes was charged with libel. He and 48 others were arrested but the warrants were unpopular. Wilkes claimed he was under parliamentary privilege as an MP and charges were dropped.

Wilkes and Thomas Potter wrote a pornographic poem dedicated to Fanny Murray, mistress of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, with whom Wilkes had a long standing feud. The Earl was not amused and had the poem declared obscene and Wilkes was to be arrested but fled to Paris instead. On January 19, 1764 he was tried in absentia and declared to be an outlaw. By 1768 he was running out of money in France and had to return to England. His first move was to run again for a seat in Parliament and he was elected as a Radical from Middlesex. He surrendered himself to the King’s Bench and was found guilty. He was fined £1000 and given a two year prison sentence by Judge Joseph Yates.

His supporters were outraged with the prison sentence. They appeared, en masse, before the King’s Bench, London. A crowd of as many as 15,000 people had been read the Riot Act demanding they disperse. Four Justices of the peace from Surrey called for troops to be sent in. There was a particuarly obnoxious man in a red coat, insulting the soldiers but he fled when guns were leveled. Troops followed and entered a bar, killing a man in a red coat, but not the man from the crowd. This enraged the crowd, which became more belligerent. The soldiers fired on the crowd of unarmed men (some firing into the crowd, some firing over their heads), killing seven (some reports listed 11) and wounding another 15. The incident became known as the St. George’s Fields Massacre. Wilkes served out his two years in prison and was then made sheriff of London and in 1774 became Lord Mayor of London.

What’s the difference between art and pornography… a government grant! – Peter Griffin

Pornography. That which excites, whether from approval or disapproval. – Leonard Rossiter

Pornography exists for the lonesome, the ugly, the fearful – It’s made for the losers. – Rita Mae Brown

It’s very difficult to fail at pornography. – Michael Chabon

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May 9

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 9, 2017

1386: The Treaty of Windsor is signed. A Civil War in Portugal was precipitated when King Ferdinand I died without a male heir in 1383. He had been King of Portugal and the Algarve from 1367 until his death at the age of 37. He had managed to sire a daughter before his death and her marriage was in contention since her husband would rule in Portugal. English and French princes were hopeful, but it was decided that King John I of Castile would be chosen even though Ferdinand had fought three separate wars with Castile during his reign. The marriage was celebrated in May 1383. However, this did not prove to be satisfactory to all, especially Ferdinand’s two illegitimate half-brothers. When Ferdinand died, there was, if not outright chaos, at least not a consensus over who would rule.

John, Great Master of Aviz was Ferdinand’s half brother and popular among the Portuguese middle class and traditional aristocracy. His father was King Peter I and his mother was Dona Teresa Lourenço and therefore he was part of the House of Burgundy as had been Ferdinand. The other half brother was John of Castile and the two men fought vehemently over the throne of Portugal. On August 14, 1385 the Battle of Aljubarrota was fought between the two Johns. England supported John of the House of Aviz and backed by the populace of Portugal while France and Aragon supported the contender from Castile. The battle was a decisive Portuguese victory even though Castile’s side had five times the men.

After his victory at Aljubarrota, John I of the House of Aviz was the undisputed King of Portugal. The support between England and Portugal was further cemented by the marriage of King John to Philippa of Lancaster. She was the daughter of John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster. The King married the English woman on February 14, 1387 as the last step in the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance. Like most arranged, royal weddings, the bride and groom only met for the first time twelve days after they were married in a proxy ceremony. Philippa was considered to be a plain woman and John already had a mistress with whom he had three children. His eldest son was ten by the time he was married.

Although Philippa was seen as a quietly demure queen who would never interfere with her husband’s affairs, she wielded considerable power in both the Portuguese and English courts. The King and Queen had nine children with three of them dying in infancy. The six remaining children were called the “Illustrious Generation” in Portugal. The Treaty of Windsor remains intact. The name was given as it was signed in Windsor, a market town in Berkshire, England and the treaty established a pact of mutual support between the two nations which makes it the oldest diplomatic alliance still in force anywhere in the world.

This treaty has been the cornerstone of both nations’ relations with each other ever since. – Matthew Winsett

I think men are mainly unfaithful because as they get older, they feel the urge to prove to themselves that they are still attractive. They need proof from outside the marriage. It’s really sad. It’s all about them. It’s not about their wives at all. – Pattie Boyd

The cultural expectation should be if there’s infidelity, the marriage is more important than fidelity. – Dan Savage

Infidelity raises profound questions about intimacy. – Junot Diaz

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May 8

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 8, 2017

1927: L’Oiseau Blanc takes off from Paris, heading for New York City. The biplane was a French Levasseur PL.8 and the name is given as The White Bird in English. Two French World War I flying heroes were attempting to win the Orteig Prize. Charles Nungesser and François Coli had worked closely with Émile Farret and Albert Longelot in creating the newly designed biplane. Based on the Levasseur PL.4, the newer plane was built to carry two crewmembers seated side-by-side in an open cockpit. The fuselage was reinforced and the shape was altered to allow the two men their preferred seating arrangement. The wingspan was also increased. Two additional fuel tanks were added so 1,063 gallons of fuel was available for the nonstop transatlantic flight. New safety features were also added.

In April, the plane was shipped to Nungesser so some proving tests could be made. The plane was never fully fueled for these test flights and during one, Nungesser reached a cruising speed of 129 mph at an altitude of 16,100 feet. The plane was deemed fit and prepared for takeoff. At 5.17 AM local time, Nungesser and Coli took off from Le Bourget Field in Paris. The plane was exceptionally heavy for a single engine craft with a weight of 11,000 pounds at takeoff. It barely cleared the trees at the end of the runway. The flight path was to take the plane over the English Channel and southern England and Ireland. The plane would cross the Atlantic to Newfoundland and head south over Nova Scotia, Boston, and land in New York City.

Four military aircraft escorted The White Bird to the edge of France. They last saw the plane as it headed west. It was again spotted by a British submarine near the Isle of Wight. A civilian noted the plane flying over Dungarvan, Ireland and a priest reported the plane’s passing over Carrigaholt. No other sightings were made. Tens of thousands of anxious spectators gathered in Battery Park in Manhattan, awaiting the arrival of the historic flight. There were claimed but non-confirmed sightings and a French newspaper even reported the successful landing in New York City. However, even with the increased fuel capacity of the plane, it had a limit of 42 hours of flying time. It did not arrive within that time frame.

An international search was launched to find Nungesser and Coli. The French, US, and Canadian Navies all participated in a search for the missing plane and men. Two search aircraft were sent up (one of them crashed) to try and find some clue to the missing plane. Nothing was ever found. The mystery remains. The White Bird may have crashed over the Atlantic during a squall. There were 12 witnesses who claimed to have seen the plane in Newfoundland and Maine but the weather was foggy at the time. The plane was never recovered and its fate remains unknown. Twelve days after The White Bird left Paris, a relatively unknown American pilot, Charles Lindberg, left New York City. With a tail wind to help, he was able to land the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris and collect the $25,000 (~$342,000 now) Orteig Prize.

Gentlemen: As a stimulus to the courageous aviators, I desire to offer, through the auspices and regulations of the Aero Club of America, a prize of $25,000 to the first aviator of any Allied Country crossing the Atlantic in one flight, from Paris to New York or New York to Paris, all other details in your care. – Raymond Orteig

There are only two emotions in a plane:  boredom and terror. – Orson Welles

The modern airplane creates a new geographical dimension.  A navigable ocean of air blankets the whole surface of the globe.  There are no distant places any longer:  the world is small and the world is one. – Wendell Willkie

Lovers of air travel find it exhilarating to hang poised between the illusion of immortality and the fact of death. – Alexander Chase