Little Bits of History

April 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2017

1887: Guillaume Schnaebelé is released. He was born in Alsace, an area that is today in northeastern France but has been an area of contention. When Schnaebelé was born in 1831, Alsace was part of the Kingdom of France and had been for over 150 years. However, by the time of this incident, it was part of the German Empire and had been since 1871 as part of the fallout from the Franco-Prussian War. Schnaebelé emigrated to France after the war, having served on the French side and having been awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honor. He was employed as a mid-level and rather obscure French police inspector when he was invited to Ars-sur-Moselle to meet with a German police inspector.

Near Pagny-sur-Moselle, he was arrested on April 21. There was an immediate dispute as to whether Schnaebelé was still in France or was in German territory at the time of his arrest. The French claimed, no matter where he was, since he had been invited by Germany to attend a conference by German officials, he should be given immunity. The Germans maintained he was arrested for treason against the state because during the war, he was involved in sending vital information regarding German fortresses to Paris. He also aided and abetted Alsatians in the pay of the French Government and an order had been issued for his arrest should he ever step on German ground again.

Schnaebelé was released on this date by order of German Emperor William I. Also on this day, the French ambassador in Berlin received a message from Otto van Bismarck, the German Chancellor, stating the Germans felt fully justified in the arrest as the guilt of Schnaebelé was incontrovertible. However, he was being released because business meetings along the borders and between officials “must always be regarded as protected by a mutually-assured safe conduct.” This seemed to diffuse the tensions between the two nations which were on the brink of war – again. The language flowing between the two nations had been provocative and inflammatory.

In the time since, there has been speculation as to what was really happening in this week long incident. It is possible Bismarck was behind the entire affair and used it as a way to gauge French response. He may have been baiting France into starting a war or perhaps seeing if they were still in unified support of General Boulanger who had already been involved in a number of embarrassing situations. He was serving as Minster of War, a position he lost in May 1887 and he was transferred to a provincial post to be hopefully forgotten. There is also a possibility that Schnaebelé was actually a spy and working for the soon to be disgraced General. Whatever the reason for his arrest, his release was enough to forestall war, at least for a time.

It may seem unfashionable to say so, but historians should seize the imagination as well as the intellect. History is, in a sense, a story, a narrative of adventure and of vision, of character and of incident. It is also a portrait of the great general drama of the human spirit. – Peter Ackroyd

I ain’t no historian but I happen to savvy this incident. – Charles Marion Russell

It’s a thrilling world, and people really like stories about secrets, which is the essence of a spy drama. – Andrew Scott

We have learned in recent years to translate almost all of political life in terms of conspiracy. –  John le Carre

Yellow Fever

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2015
Yellow Fever Virus

Yellow Fever Virus

April 28, 1932: Drs. Wilbur A. Sawyer, Wray D.M. Lloyd, and Stuart F. Kitchen announce a new vaccine. The public announcement was made at a meeting of the American Societies for Experimental Biology held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their research was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. Their vaccine was for yellow fever. It is an acute viral disease and presents as fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains (especially in the back), and headaches. Symptoms usually improve after about five days. Unfortunately, with some cases, after initial improvement, the patient presents again with abdominal pain and liver damage can cause the skin to turn yellow (jaundice). If this happens, there is also a risk of bleeding and kidney damage.

The disease is spread by the bite of the female mosquito. Only humans, other primates, and several species of mosquitoes can be infected. Yellow fever causes 200,000 infections yearly with about 30,000 deaths. Cases are found primarily in Africa. Other tropical regions can be affected as well in South America. It is not found in Asia. With an effective vaccine against the disease, it is often required for travelers visiting areas at risk obtain the vaccine. Today, the vaccine uses a live but attenuated strain of the yellow fever virus called 17D. The mechanism of the attenuation and immunogenicity for the strain remains unknown, but the vaccine is safe with few side effects.

The current vaccine was created by Max Theiler who also worked at the Rockefeller Foundation. The vaccine offers immunity to more than 90% of patients after the first dose. Protection begins ten days after vaccination so travel plans need to be made accordingly. At least 95% of those vaccinated remain immune for ten years with about 81% still immune after 30 years. For those living in the affected regions of the globe, the World Health Organization recommends routine vaccinations between the ninth and twelfth months after birth. In rare cases (less than 1 in 200,000 – 300,000), the vaccine can cause yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease which has a 60% fatality rate.

While the vaccine is very helpful, the other course of action possible is vector control – getting rid of the mosquitoes. Aedes aegypti is the mosquito in question and controlling it not only helps with yellow fever, as it can also carry dengue fever and chikungunya disease. The mosquitos breed in stagnant water or domestic waste, both common in urban areas in the developing world. There are two approaches to getting rid of the mosquitoes. One is to kill the larvae by reducing pooled water areas and using larvicides. The other is to reduce the numbers of adult mosquitoes using pesticides. If nothing works and a patient gets yellow fever, there is no cure. Viral agents have been ineffective and palliative treatment is all that remains available.

I have never yet met a healthy person who worried very much about his health, or a really good person who worried much about his own soul. – J. B. S. Haldane

Excellence in health means devoting your life to ending poverty. – Patch Adams

The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind. – Gilbert Keith Chesterton

My main mistake was to have made an ancient people advance by forced marches toward independence, health, culture, affluence, comfort. – Mohammed Reza Pahlavi

Also on this day: A Voyage to the South Sea – In 1789, the Mutiny on the Bounty takes place.
Kon-Tiki – In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl set sail.
Exposed! – In 1967, Expo 67 opened in Canada.
Scully’s Predecessor – In 1988, Aloha Airline Flight 243 met with disaster.
Men and Their Flying Machines – In 1910, three aviation firsts took place.

Men and Their Flying Machines

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2014
Louis Paulhan's biplane

Louis Paulhan’s biplane

April 28, 1910: Three aviation firsts occur. In 1906, the Daily Mail, a British newspaper issued a challenge and would pay the first person to fly between London and Manchester. The distance is about 185 miles. Flying long distances was a challenge and this was considered a very long distance. The £10,000 prize was to be given for making the trip with no more than two stops and within 24 hours. The take-off and landing could not be more than five miles from the newspaper’s offices in both cities. This contest was not immediately won and so in 1908, the paper offered £1,000 to the pilot of the first flight across the English Channel (a distance of 21 miles) which was won in 1909 by Frenchman Louis Bleriot.

The first pilot to even make an attempt at the long-distance trip was Englishman Claude Grahame-White. He was one of the first people in Britain to obtain a flying license after learning to fly in France in 1909. He took off from London on April 23, 1910 and made his first planned stop at Rugby, a distance of about 90 miles or approximately half way to Manchester. He was able to make it about 40 miles nearly to Lichfield, before engine trouble forced a landing. High winds kept him from taking his biplane back into the air and the craft suffered more damage when it was blown over on the ground.

He managed to get his plane back to London for repairs. But while these were being attended to, on this date, Frenchman Louis Paulhan took off late in the day, heading for Lichfield. When Grahame-White learned of Paulhan’s departure, he immediately set off in hot pursuit. This was one of the firsts – a night time take-off. By the next morning, he had nearly caught up with the Frenchman but Grahame-White’s plane was overloaded and was forced again to land. He had to admit defeat. Paulhan reached Manchester early on April 28 and won the challenge. Both pilots were at the Savoy Hotel in London to celebrate at a special luncheon.

Paulhan was an experienced pilot in both heavier and lighter than air vehicles having started flying balloons. Prior to this contest, he had been in California and had only recently arrived in England. His plane was brought in and assembled in under eleven hours. He took off at around 5.30 PM and followed a special train with white washed sleeper cars on the ground below who were both tracking and helping the pilot. While Paulhan won the contest, it was Grahame-White who made the historic first night time flight guided by the headlights of his ground crew’s cars. He heroically took off at 2.50 AM but was unable to catch up to the Frenchman. This was the first long-distance air race, first night-time take off proving it could be done, and the first powered flight into Manchester from outside the city. Paulhan made the flight again in 1950 on the fortieth anniversary of this historic flight. This time, he was a passenger aboard a British jet fighter. This later flight was of much shorter duration.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci

Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying. – Neil Armstrong

Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price. – Amelia Earhart

I hate flying, flat out hate its guts. – William Shatner

Also on this day: A Voyage to the South Sea – In 1789, the Mutiny on the Bounty takes place.
Kon-Tiki – In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl set sail.
Exposed! – In 1967, Expo 67 opened in Canada.
Scully’s Predecessor – In 1988, Aloha Airline Flight 243 met with disaster.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2013


April 28, 1947: Thor Heyerdahl sets sail on Kon-Tiki, trying to reach Polynesia from Peru. Heyerdahl and his five crew members wanted to prove it was possible for pre-Columbian South Americans to sail across the Pacific. Using only materials and technology available to the indigenous Peruvians, the boat was built and supplied for the journey.

Heyerdahl was 32-years-old at the time of the trip. He and his wife had already spent 10 years exploring the wonders of the ancient world, writing about their exploits, and researching the past. The Second World War took up a good deal of the time between their adventures on Fatu Hiva, part of what today is French Polynesia, and the Kon-Tiki journey.

The raft was christened Kon-Tiki after an old name for the Incan sun god, Viracocha. The raft was made mostly of balsa wood. Nine balsa logs measuring 45 feet in length were lashed together with hemp ropes. Cross beams measuring 18 feet were placed every 3 feet for support. The main sail was 15 x 18 feet and hung from a 29 foot mast. There was no metal used in the construction of the raft. They took 66 gallons of water in bamboo tubes along with coconuts, sweet potatoes, and assorted fruits and roots. They fished along the way and also had some US Army field rations with them. The Kon-Tiki sailed 4,300 miles in 101 days before smashing on a reef at Raroia with all on board surviving.

Heyerdahl led expeditions to study archeological findings and made other journeys in primitive ships. He led an expedition to The Galapagos Islands in 1952 and another to Easter Island in 1955-1956. Two sailing expeditions left from Morocco. Ra I sailed 2,262 miles over 54 days in 1969 while Ra II sailed 3,270 miles over 57 days in 1970, both ships sailing westward. These two ships were made of papyrus reeds. Heyerdahl led the Tigris Expedition (1978) which sailed a reed ship down the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, over to Pakistan and then west to Africa. Heyerdahl continued his archeological studies in the Maldives, Easter Island and Peru until his death in 2002.

“Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.” – Thor Heyerdahl

“If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run – and often in the short one – the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.” – Arthur C. Clarke

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot

“Do not fear risk. All exploration, all growth is calculated. Without challenge people cannot reach their higher selves. Only if we are willing to walk over the edge can we become winners.” – unknown

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The Tigris Expedition was crewed by eleven men from around the world. Heyerdahl was from Norway as was one other crewman. Two were from the US. There were also representatives of Italy, the USSR, Mexico, Iraq, Japan, Germany, and Denmark. They sailed through the Persian Gulf and reached Pakistan. They then headed for the Red Sea, reaching the region after sailing five months. The ship was still seaworthy, but it was burned by the participants as a protest to the wars in progress along the coasts of the entire sea. Heyerdahl wrote a letter to the UN Secretary-General telling why. He remained outspoken about international peace and the environment until he died.

Also on this day: A Voyage to the South Sea – In 1789 the Mutiny on the Bounty takes place.
Exposed! – In 1967, Expo 67 opened in Canada.
Scully’s Predecessor – In 1988, Aloha Airline Flight 243 met with disaster.

Scully’s Predecessor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2012

Aloha Airlines Flight 243 after landing

April 28, 1988: Aloha Airlines Flight 243 takes off from Hilo International Airport with Honolulu as its destination. The aircraft, called Queen Liliuokalani with registration number N737311, left the airport at 1:25 Hawaii-Aleutian time zone. There were 90 passengers and five crew members aboard the Boeing 737-297 plane. The plane was used for short hops between the islands and had made 80,090 flight cycles during the 19 years it had been in use. The pre-flight was uneventful and the plane took off without incident.

By 1:48 the routine flight altitude of 24,000 feet had been reached. The flight was approximately 27 miles south-southeast of Kahului on the island of Maui. Suddenly, a small portion of the left side of the roof ruptured. This allowed for an explosive decompression which tore off the top half of the roof from just behind the cockpit to the fore-wing area. Part of the original design of the 737 was a controlled breakaway zone to alleviate stress in cases of decompression. The age and frequent flight status of the plane created a situation where the rivets had rusted and corroded causing the entire roof to disappear into thin air.

At the time of the event, First Officer Madeline Tompkins’s head was pulled backwards and she could see insulation flying about the cabin. Captain Robert Schornstheimer looked back and saw blue sky where the first class roof should have been. Tompkins called Air Traffic Control with a mayday. Clarabelle Lansing, chief flight attendant, was collecting cups from passengers and was sucked through the hole and died – the only fatality – while Michelle Honda, standing father back in the plane, was thrown to the floor.

Captain Schornstheimer was able to gain control of the plane, no longer aerodynamically stable. He was to land at Kahului Airport, using runway 2. The electrical wiring was severed with the decompression and it was unknown whether the landing gear had been able to descend and lock into place. At 1:58 PM the plane was brought safely to ground and the emergency evacuation slides were activated. There were 65 injuries reported, eight of them serious. Touring vans were used to transport the injured to the local hospital since the island had only two ambulances at the time. The probable cause of the event was metal fatigue.

Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo. – Al Gore

Before marriage, many couples are very much like people rushing to catch an airplane; once aboard, they turn into passengers. They just sit there. – Paul Getty

I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit. – Chuck Yeager

If you take one rivet out of an airplane, it will be all right, it’ll keep flying. You take another rivet out of the airplane and it still flies. So what the heck, let’s take more rivets out of the airplane, and sooner or later, the airplane drops from the sky. – Ted Danson

Also on this day:

A Voyage to the South Sea – In 1789 the Mutiny on the Bounty takes place.
Kon-Tiki – In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl set sail.
Exposed! – In 1967, Expo 67 opened in Canada.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2011

Expo 67

April 28, 1967: Expo 67 opens in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was considered to be the most successful World’s Fair of the century. There were 50 million visitors (including your author) and 62 nations participated in the event. There was a record crowd on the third day of the Expo with 569,000 visitors on that day alone. The year coincided with Canada’s centennial year. It was originally to have been held in Moscow, Russia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, but the Soviet Union backed out and the fair was offered to Canada in 1962. After the fair closed in October 1967, the site and many of the pavilions remained open as exhibits called Man and His World.

The exhibition did not get a smooth start. In 1963, a computer program had predicted the project was doomed and there was not enough time to get ready so many of the top organizers resigned. Or else it was due to a new government coming into power and switching appointees. It was in May 1963 that a theme for the fair was selected. They chose “Man and His World” based on a book written in 1939 by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

There were seventeen theme elements for Man the His World including: Du Pont Auditoriaum of Canada, Habitat 67, Labyrinth, Man and his Health, Man in the Community, Man the Explorer with four sub-themes, Man the Creator with three sub-themes, Man the Producer with three sub-themes, and Man the Provider. Construction began on August 13, 1963 when the first front loader of fill dirt was dumped. Twenty-five million tons of fill dirt followed. There were only 1,042 days to complete the building of Expo 67. On opening day, everything was ready.

One of the notable features of Expo 67 was the World Festival of Art and Entertainment which featured art galleries, operas, ballets and theater companies, orchestras jazz groups, and pop musicians. There was an amusement park that remained open nightly until 2:30 AM even though the park itself closed at 10 PM. Many notable people arrived including Queen Elizabeth II, Lyndon Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Charles de Gaulle. Many countries participated in the event but notably Spain was absent, South Africa was banned due to apartheid, and China did not participate. Many countries in South America also did not take part. The revenues were $221,239,872 and the cost of the Expo was $431,904,683 for a deficit of over $210 million. But I had fun.

“The cannonade of fireworks which marked the opening of Expo…may in retrospect turn out to have been one of those rare moments that changed the direction of a nation’s history…This is the greatest thing we have ever done as a nation and surely the modernization of Canada — of its skylines, of its styles, its institutions — will be dated from this occasion and from this fair…The more you see of it, the more you’re overwhelmed by a feeling that if this is possible, that if this little sub-arctic, self-obsessed country of 20,000,000 people can put on this kind of show, then it can do almost anything.” – Peter C. Newman

“Still, Expo is regarded as the best world’s fair ever. Its success changed the world’s view of Canada, and more importantly, it changed the way Canadians viewed themselves. For the first time the country basked in the pride and the glory of its talents and accomplishments. A nation had come of age.” – Raj Ahluwalia

“When the lights go out for the last time, when the crowds have left the pavilions and the avenues, a World Exhibition begins a new life. Less glittering but more profound, this new life is nourished in the souls of those who visited the Exhibition, and it will blossom into a legend for generations to come.” – Pierre Dupuy

“The official name was “The 1967 Universal and International Exhibition in Montréal / L’Exposition universelle et internationale de 1967 à Montreal”. A bit of a mouthful. It needed a more convenient name.” – Yves Jasmin

Also on this day:
A Voyage to the South Sea – In 1789 the Mutiny on the Bounty takes place.
Kon-Tiki – In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl set sail.

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A Voyage to the South Sea

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2010

Mutiny on the Bounty

April 28, 1789: The Mutiny on the Bounty takes place. It was a real event on the British Naval vessel HMS Bounty. She cost £1,950 to build. She began sailing as a cargo ship named Bethia and then was sold to the Royal Navy for £2,600 in 1787 and her name was changed to Bounty. The ship was rather small, displacing 215 tons, she was 91 ft long by 24 ft at the beam with a crew of 46. She went into commission on August 16, 1787 and was put into service on October 15 of that same year. She was given just a single mission.

Captain William Bligh, at least in the book and movies, was a harsh master. However, by comparing his discipline methods to other captains of the time, the 33-year-old flogged less often and with fewer lashes than others. In fact, three men who deserted and were captured could have been hung for their crime, but Bligh had them flogged instead.

The mission for Bligh and his men was to take breadfruits from Tahiti to the Caribbean. The West Indies needed a cheap supply of food for the slaves accumulating there. Breadfruit trees provide a plentiful crop of starchy fruit that can be roasted, baked, fried, or boiled. The taste is said to be “potato-like” or similar to fresh baked bread. It took ten moths of sailing to reach the Pacific Ocean paradise. The crew then spent five months gathering the plants and readying them for transport. Fletcher Christian even married a Tahitian. After the tranquility of island life, the rigors of sea life became problematic. Bligh was known to verbally castigate his crew and this may have led to loyalty problems.

Christian awoke Bligh and sent him and 18 crew members off in a launch. Because of Bligh’s great navigational skill, he got his men to safety, losing only one to stoning when they attempted to land on an island. Bligh returned to England and later served with Admiral Nelson. Christian never did make it back to civilization and died on one of the area islands.

“Every person has free choice. Free to obey or disobey the Natural Laws. Your choice determines the consequences. Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” – Alfred A. Montapert

“A sailing ship is no democracy; you don’t caucus a crew as to where you’ll go anymore than you inquire when they’d like to shorten sail.” – Sterling Hayden

“One of the advantages of being Captain is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.” – James T. Kirk

“Why do people in ship mutinies always ask for “better treatment”? I’d ask for a pinball machine, because with all that rocking back and forth you’d probably be able to get a lot of free games.” – Jack Handey

Also on this day, in 1947 Kon-Tiki set sail with Thor Heyerdahl as captain.